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  • Nancy Bathurst

  • June 2019
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Charlie

I belong to a Facebook group called Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue and this heartbreaking post appeared today.  Charlie is not a Siberian but he is a cat and, in my book, that is all that matters. We have heard from so many of you how your cat has changed your life so I knew you would appreciate this beautiful story of Cheryl and Charlie.

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Charlie Cat walked into my life, planted himself on my heart, and my world changed forever.
This boy had endured terrible abuse, but he had the courage to look me in the eyes and trust me to take care of him and heal his wounds and make him whole again. What I never imagined is that it was he who would take care of me and heal my wounds and make me whole.
Charlie came to us just before a terrible crisis in our lives. When we brought him home, he ran under the bed, and wouldn’t come out. But then, as I sat quietly in the chair near the bed and waited, he stuck his nose out, then crept out up to his shoulders, and stared at me. I looked away, so I wouldn’t challenge him, but I hummed softly, and sat very still. And then, suddenly, he jumped up into my lap, walked in a few circles, stretched out, and fell asleep. And I fell in love.
That first night, I woke up and saw him, ears silhouetted in the bedroom window, looking out over the city. My heart ached for this poor boy that must wonder what had happened to him. All I could do was speak softly to him in a reassuring voice, longing for him to somehow understand that he would be okay.
He did.
He became the ruler of all things visible and invisible in the Ronning household.

He became the hunter/gatherer of Da Bird and every sparkly ball known to exist.

He became the King of Kitty-Krack, and could smell tuna from 18 miles away.
And he became the emotional healer of the house. When my husband became very ill and was near death, Charlie would not leave my side. When he came home from the hospital, Charlie wasted no time in claiming his domination over him. This man who declared that he would “tolerate” having a cat became slowly converted to adoring slave in a matter of hours. It started when Charlie had the great good sense to lay down next to my husband *justcloseenough* to touch him on the leg with his paw, but not too close to force him to pet him. Then he rolled over, and exposed his belly…still just barely touching my husband’s leg with a soft little paw. And out went the hand. Stroking the belly. And slavedom was accomplished.
His years of abuse still showed at times. If you went to pet him from the left side, he would flinch. It was obvious that he was often hit from that side. And when he developed very difficult health problems, we learned that one of the sources of those problems was from nerve damage, cause by being thrown violently by the tail. There were times when I would look into his eyes and see the fear, and it would hurt down to the core of my being.
But Charlie, being a resilient kitty, stopped flinching when we petted him. He learned that we loved him, and would never, ever, hit him or yell at him, or throw him, or kick him. We would only ever love him. So he prospered, and his kingdom grew.
He learned that he was welcomed on our laps anytime. He learned that he was not welcomed on the kitchen counter, so he sat on the vent hood. He learned that if he put all of his sparkly balls under the refrigerator, I would eventually fish them out, and he could walk on my head while I was doing it.
And I learned something about Charlie pretty quickly, too. He had an uncanny ability to know my moods. The first time Charlie jumped into my lap and licked my tears off of my face, I cried even harder. The second or third time he jumped on to my husbands lap and walked around and around when we were having a disagreement, I finally got it. He was distracting him so we would stop. He didn’t like the sound of it. I found out pretty fast that I had bonded with this cat. I had found something that I had been missing. I didn’t know I had been missing it, but he showed me that I had.
I knew now what it meant to truly love an animal. I felt the full scope of compassion and care for this beautiful, funny, smart, compelling creature. And I knew that, in some manner that I don’t fully understand, and will never fully understand, he and I had a relationship that was as real and complex and meaningful as any I had with the people in my life.
And with that comes something else. With that, comes the pain of something I wish I would never have to experience. With that, comes the almost unbearable sense of grief and sorrow when I say that my precious Charlie died on Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 5:45 pm. I cannot believe that he is gone. I can barely stand the pain of his loss.
Charlie could not overcome the physical difficulties of his past abuse, and the damage finally caught up with him. I am told that I did everything I could for him. I am not sure I believe that. I will always wonder if there wasn’t something more, something else, something only I could have known, because only I knew him so fully. I am glad that he was in no pain when he died, but my god, I am beyond sorrow.
I am grateful to have had him in my life. I am grateful to have had the chance to give him, in the very short time he had left, love and treats and warm laps and more love. He gave me more than I could ever have given him. He was my gift from the universe…. my once-in-a-lifetime kitty.
I had looked forward to seeing what he was going to come up with next. I’m sorry that it is over too soon. I’m sorry for him, and for me. But I’m so glad that we shared our lives. I just wish we had had more time to do so. I will always want to hold him and pet him and comfort him again. Because Charlie changed me. Forever.
Rest in glorious peace, Charlie. I miss you with my whole heart.

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5 Comments

  1. Wow! Nice. Cats will certainly do that to you!

    Reply
  2. Jane Tuchscherer

     /  June 20, 2019

    Thank you so much. She says it so well for us all.

    Reply
  3. Tara Wilson

     /  June 20, 2019

    My goodness…a joyfully heartbreaking story. I tried not to cry. It didn’t work. Thanks for sharing that. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Tad

     /  June 20, 2019

    Subhumans treat cats and dogs badly. I hate them. We have two more rescue cats. They are a handful, but they make our days and nights better. Of all pets i’ve Had in my life, they were all swell. Made me a bit better of a person.

    Reply
  5. Aneta

     /  June 20, 2019

    My heart goes out to you and your beautiful Charlie. I’m so sorry that he had to endure so much pain in his life. I hope those monsters rot in hell. It’s amazing that Charlie got to live his final days of life with such a wonderful and loving family. You made his life worthwhile. God bless you, your family and your Amazing Charlie!!!

    Reply

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