|...When he was young and handsome...|
We buried Stella in the field today, under a foot of soil and two feet of snow. True to our New Hampshire farm, we hit a sizable rock while digging which became his headstone. He's nestled into a spot near a small grove of trees, where the grass grows tall in summer. Jessup is buried nearby.
Stella the Fella was 15 years old and failing. We had dragged our feet but finally made an appointment with the vet to put him down. Tuesday morning. We worried about the car trip. He hated to ride. We knew the strange place and smells would terrorize him. We didn't want his life to end that way.
He must have sensed something. Stella liked his house, his wood stove, his food dish, and his perch on the top of the couch. He purred like a lion and threw himself on the floor when he was happy to see you. Hence, he earned the knickname, "Thud".
In his glory days, he retrieved pipe cleaners and burrowed under the scatter rugs. He chased his sister and got into all kinds of cat trouble. When our friend took care of him, Stella left her gifts at the door -- a mouse or its parts. A sponge to clean up water. Toys. Balls. It was uncanny.
Sunday night, four of us went to bed. Stella was first. He chose his usual cozy "hole" in the comforter. Throughout the night, I could feel him stretched out at my feet.
On Monday morning, three of us awoke. Stella had died during the night, quietly and peacefully, near those who loved him. He had been warm and snuggled into the quilt. No mess. No fuss. Just a simple passing when it was time for him to go.
We cancelled the vet's appointment. We washed his dishes and blankets. We sat and reminisced, laughed and sighed. We miss him --- this old cat who had the grace and good sense to die at home.