Goodbye, Sophie

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat peeking around the corner from the kitchen into the front hallway

In early February, a year after losing Matilda and just two months after losing Olivia, our little Sophie was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She had an aggressive tumor in her abdomen. Knowing I was going to lose her, too, was almost more than I could bear. I couldn't even talk about it, no less write about it. But now there is no getting around it, because she is gone.

It's usually less than a month between diagnosis and death with this type of cancer. We got two months with her. Two good months, during which she was herself right up until the last few days. Silly, bossy, playful, cuddly, inimitable Sophs. You wouldn't have known she was sick at all, except that she had become impossibly thin. She was still eating, but the greedy fucking cancer was stealing every bit of energy to grow and devastate.

image of Sophie walking next to my leg in a bit of sunshine; photo taken from above, showing how desperately thin she had gotten

The vet probed her belly when we took her in and said the tumor was the size of a golf ball. He was amazed she had thrived as long as she did. I told him how she had her own heating pad to keep her warm and how I fed her a thousand times a day and how she just hung out on my shoulder or my lap or Iain's belly, perfectly content. On you was always her favorite place, her whole life.

image of me grinning over my shoulder at Sophie, who is sitting on my back with one of her front arms draped across my shoulder

Sophie was the tiniest kitten I'd ever seen, the runt of all runts, and she stayed tiny her whole life. Anyone who had the pleasure of meeting her exclaimed, without fail, "She's so little!" — and soon thereafter had a lapful of Sophie, whether they wanted it or not, because she was the Welcoming Committee.

From the moment we brought her home, she wanted to be as close to me as possible fully 100% of the time. When she was very little, she hung out tucked inside my bra while I worked, then, when she grew out of that, nuzzled in one arm for as long as I could bear it, then draped over my shoulder, and, finally, perched atop my monitor, blocking increasingly larger parts of my screen with her legs as she got bigger.

collage of images showing Sophie in the various positions described above

Iain would come into my office to see me carefully moving her leg out of my way for the thousandth time in a day and ask, "Doesn't that annoy the fuck out of you?" and I would shrug and say, "Yes, but she likes it up there."

And, in moments when she wasn't balancing atop my flat-screen monitor like a happy weirdo, she was making trouble in the blinds over my desk in my former office.

image of Sophie playing around in my blinds, looking at me with her tongue sticking out
I mean.

She was extremely comical and extremely empathetic, offering up her belly to anyone who was feeling blue. Or any other bit you fancied petting, for that matter: Sophie was rare among cats in that she loved being pet anywhere — her belly, her ears, her nose, her paws, her tail. Just keep petting her, please and thank you.

The truth is, when I was feeling rotten, Sophie was the one who made me feel better with her magical amalgamated elixir of cuddles, whimsy, and the most sagacious eyes a cat has ever possessed. So now I don't know what to do with myself. I've never been so sad in my whole life, and the grief threatens to overwhelm me, but there's just a Sophie-shaped hole where Sophie used to be.

There is no consolation; only time can ferry away this brokenness. And I cannot regret this pain, because it tells the final chapter in a story about a companion I am desperately grateful to have had.

I loved Sophie mightily, and I will miss her so, so much. My life is better because she was in it. I hope I returned the favor.

image of Sophie lying on her side in a purple chair, looking at me
One of the last photos I took of Sophie.

Going through this is always difficult. Going through it three times in 15 months is shattering.

Losing Sophie punctuates a terrible sentence and has laid bare the jagged anguish of multiple deaths so close together. I didn't have a chance to grieve Matilda, because I was worried about Olivia, and I didn't have a chance to grieve Olivia, because I was worried about Sophie, and now all of that grief has arrived in a tsunamic wave, threatening to drown me.

Yesterday, I came home to a house with no cats in it. They are really all gone. All three of my kitteh girls. They were here, and then, so quickly, they were not.

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat, Olivia the White Farm Cat, and Sophie lying in the dining room, in a patch of sunshine

They were all so special, in their own ways. Full of personality. Full of affection. Full of sweetness.

I am absolutely wrecked by the loss of them, and I am immeasurably lucky to have loved them.

I am forever their Cat Lady.

[Note: I will be taking the rest of the week off, and I will return on Monday.]

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