For many years now I’ve called Jersey Girl, my black and white kitty, my satellite. She is constantly orbiting me – I am her world, and she is my moon.
Today is the first day without our sweet Lexi and I realize now that if Jersey is our moon, Lexi was our sun. Our entire lives revolved around her amazing, bold, unique spirit. She made our house a home. She was our everything.
Today is Day One of a future I knew would eventually come but one I fooled myself into thinking was much further away than it turned out to be. Today is a day I’ve dreaded for so many years,… because I knew how special and unique our little Lexikins was.
Vince found Lexi in Fall 1998 at an apartment in Gainsville. Or rather, she found him. She was about 6 weeks old in late September / early October that year and walked right up to him with her tiny little body and big loud voice. He was fresh out of the dorms in a new apartment with roommates and must have looked like a sucker, because she picked him and it was love at first sight.
18 years later and they lived a lifetime together. 12 of those years were with me. 4 of them were post-cancer, on 3 legs.
All of those years were amazing.
Throughout her lifetime Lexi became a legend amongst Vince’s friends and then mine. Lexi would walk right up to anyone who came into our house and they were instantly charmed. She was so social, so cool, so NOT like a typical cat, that she was adopted by everyone.
She went on a beach vacation with us, lived in Vince’s parent’s camper with Vince for several months, took long car trips and short ones – always looking out of the window, smelling the air if the window was down, balancing herself as we took turns as well as any professional motorcycle driver.
She loved her stroller and enjoyed walks around the neighborhood, around Cranes Roost, and even up to World of Beer. We spent our weekends snuggling in bed, her giving us kisses or me squishing her under the covers with tickles and kisses that she grew to love. I couldn’t take a bath without her on the ledge behind me, trying to drink from the tub. Vince couldn’t sit on the couch without her snuggled up to his leg. We couldn’t open a door to the outside world without her trying to escape.
While at Gainseville Lexi was such an influence on Australian DJ Phil K and Vince’s roommate Dave that they named an original Progressive House track after her – Furball – and put her photo on the B-side of the record. I like to say she co-produced one of the best progressive house tracks of the early 00s’, thanks to Furball being on this list: http://www.redbull.com/au/en/music/stories/1331755083164/16-classic-progressive-breaks-tracks-red-bull-music
Lexi lived life fearlessly, with a contagious sense of curiosity. As she got older, we became even more appreciative of her existence – we knew EVERY day with her, every month, every passing year was a gift to be cherished.
We loved seeing the world through her eyes – just like most parents say about their kids, only our kid was a snarky, sassy, back-talking, sweet as pie tortoiseshell kitty that instantly won the hearts of everyone she met.
Lexi approached her 18th year in great health. Her annual check-up in September 2015 was great and all was well. Over the Spring and Summer of 2016 she was her usual spunky self… but we noticed in October that her weight was down so after our trip to New York I took her into the vet for a full annual check-up.
October 17th she came in 2 pounds less than her weight a year prior and while her bloodwork was perfect – kidneys of a 5 year old cat, great gums, normal everything – her white blood cell count was astronomical. Specifically for inflammation. And x-rays showed a mass near her heart and lungs…
Given her past, given her age, we thought we knew what the mass was. But we didn’t want to go down without a fight. So we started her on antibiotics, an anti-inflammatory, and an appetite stimulant.
Two weeks later the follow-up blood work showed her white blood cell count was even higher.
So she got steroids for inflammation, fluids for hydration, and an anti-nausea to help her eat on November 9th. And that bought us her last week and a half of good health.
By November 17th her weight was still going down and we were bottle feeding her water and kitty Ensure along with all her pills – basically refusing to let her waste away.
But then came the week of Thanksgiving and suddenly things got so bad. She was weak, dehydrated, and starting to stumble. We watched her lay on our bed on Thanksgiving day, counting every breath she took, and thought we lost her… that night she continued to get sick and suddenly our bright-eyed kitty was skin and bones, her little fluffy cheeks sunken in and her long feather-chest furs oily.
None of that mattered to us, though. She was still the most beautiful thing we had ever seen.
We cradled her, helped her to the litter box, cleaned her off when she made a mess, and spoon fed her anything we could get her to eat. We snuggled her and took shifts sleeping with her in between us just in case she needed to get up throughout the night.
The Friday after Thanksgiving I called a service in Central Florida called Lap of Love just to see what their hours were for the holiday weekend. We knew what we had to do… but we wanted to do it at home and that’s what Lap of Love does – the vet comes to you, so your baby can go at home, in peace. We made an appointment for Saturday night at 6:30, knowing we could cancel at any moment if we wanted to.
But Friday night was bad. She fell in her litter box and had to get a thorough bath, which was so stressful for all of us. She didn’t walk again after that fall.
So Saturday we stayed in bed with her and snuggled nonstop. She was so close to the end… now we realize she was only hanging on for us, she was only living on love. And at 6:30pm one of the most amazing, compassionate, caring vets I have ever met came to our house and helped bring her to peace in our arms. Her heart stopped at 7pm on the dot. We watched her take her last breath. It was absolutely the most soul crushing, heartbreaking experience Vince and I have ever shared.
And now here we are – Day One.
So far, a future without Lexi involves a LOT of tears. It’s walking around our house seeing her ghost everywhere – she had so many spots, she was so loud, she was so spunky and sassy and fun. It’s hugging blankets she slept in and finding her whiskers in clothes baskets she shouldn’t have slept in. And it hurts. A lot.
Lexi loved Christmas lights and garland, kisses from us and on us, pepperoni (any human food of any kind), fresh water (warm in the winter, cold with an ice cube in the summer), and long, illegal walks outside on her own. She would take a nap just about anywhere (“any ol’ spot’ll do”) and insisted on a spotless litter box. She was talkative and liked to give us her thoughts – loudly and often.
We knew her little quirks and idiosyncrasies as well as we know ourselves… and we miss her. We miss her SO damn much our hearts ache.
I don’t know how to go forward from here. I’ve lost my Grandma and my Daddy. I almost lost Mia. And I’m just as confused and listless with the loss of my Lexikins as I was with those humans.
But there is ONE thing I have now that I didn’t have with those other losses (besides an amazing therapist who specializes in grief…) and that is faith.
I have faith that Lexi is safe and healthy again somewhere. I have faith that Lexi will find us again. Whether it’s this life or the next, she will ALWAYS be our baby, and she’ll find us again someday.
For now, goodnight my sweet Lexi. I love you and miss you SO much. 18 years wasn’t enough and nothing short of forever could have been. But I love you forever and ever. And I KNOW we will meet again.