OLD FRIENDS NEVER LEAVE
Submitted by Lady Rose Blackthorn
NW United States
When I was eighteen and graduated from trade school, my best friend gave me a graduation present—an eight week old Russian Blue kitten. When I brought her home, my parents just about wouldn’t let me keep her (they did NOT believe in having animals in the house) but I managed to talk them into letting me keep her.
I could just about write a book about that cat’s life. I named her Kia, and she was queen of our castle. She was my familiar, almost an extension of me. She was a tiny thing, never weighed more than seven pounds in her life, and was a great hunter of mice, grasshoppers, moles and assorted birds. There are legends amongst my friends and family about that cat. She was larger than life.
She was with me for almost twenty years, and when she passed I felt as though I’d lost a child, she was that big a part of my life. Other pets that I’d had over the years, when they passed away they would be buried in the yard, and a stone placed or a flower planted for remembrance. But when Kia died, I wanted to keep her with me. I had her cremated, and her remains placed in a small wooden box engraved with her name.
I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, or just because we’d been each other’s shadow for so many years, but I guess she wanted to stay with me as well. I have never seen her, but I’ve felt her many times. A soft warmth brushing against my bare ankles, a barely sensed vibration as though she lay purring on my pillow. At the time she passed, I had two other cats and a dog. I may never have seen Kia, but I can guarantee that they did! More than once, my dog Sebastian would leap to his feet from a doze to look for the aged cat who’d always kept him in line. And the two male cats, Zion and Matase, would often back away from their food dish in deference to their queen who was no longer there.
I’ve moved since then, a few times, and none of my pets who knew Kia are still with me. But I still have the box with her ashes on my bookshelves. I still sometimes feel her nudge her head against my arm. And sometimes, when the two dogs I have now suddenly jump up from their nap and stare suspiciously into an empty corner, I have to smile. Kia is up to her old tricks.