Yesterday, after a long battle with lymphoma, our beloved Koshka is finally pain free. The pain now is ours.
Koshka had what we can only imagine was a difficult start before she came into my wife's life in 1996. We eventually learned she had two bb's embedded in her, one in her hip and one near her heart. But even at the tender age of about two years old, she was already a fighter. She waltzed into a friend's home when the door was open, decided this place would do, and went straight up to their cat bowls to help herself.
Our friends decided my wife, who was just on the verge of a breakup with her previous girlfriend, needed a cat. Specifically, this cat. They said her personality was similar to my wife's.
My wife was dubious. She had not had a pet as an adult and wasn't sure she needed the responsibility. But within two weeks, when Koshka managed to escape off of the balcony and my wife panicked, she knew she had fallen for the cat. When she panicked and yelled for Koshka, Koshka sauntered around the side of her apartment building like, "What are you all excited about?"
Koshka quickly trained M that she was in charge. She claimed everything in the house as her own, including the food on M's plate. She was dignified and aloof...she accepted affection only on her own terms. Koshka didn't care much for anyone my wife dated, so I guess she decided I was the keeper when she realized Koshka liked me. Eleven years ago, the three of us became a family.
When my wife left for her first Foreign Service assignment in Baku, I couldn't go with her. Koshka made certain she was well cared for. And my wife rewarded her with devotion, even singing songs to her that to this day are stuck in her colleagues' heads.
Koshka made no bones about ruling the roost. If my wife or I didn't let her do whatever she wanted, she would march straight over to Noostie or Pishik and whap them on the head. They never dared fight back.
Shortly before we went to Jerusalem in 2005, she was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. She started taking prednisone (and developed a bit of 'roid rage, I think!) with her treats each night. The IBD was under control until April of last year, when if turned into lymphoma. She very nearly died, and the vets told us that even after a blood transfusion and their best efforts, she probably only had six weeks left. We upped her steroids in the hopes of fighting off the cancer, but opted not to put her through radiation.
And like I said, she was a fighter. We were grateful when she made it to M's birthday, and then to Christmas. We took her, Noostie and Pishik with us that year to the beach, and she enjoyed sitting in the window watching the ocean. And then she made it past April and though she kept losing small amounts of weight, we began to hope that maybe she would live forever.
But of course that never happens.
We boarded her at a pet resort to make sure she got her meds when we went on a cruise the end of August. In the week and a half we were gone, she lost two pounds. Since then, we have been thankful for each day. I really expected her to leave us far sooner than she did. But she is a fighter.
But finally yesterday, the struggle was too much for her. She was so tired and weak, and couldn't even get up to go to the litter box. And she was far too dignified for that. We knew it was time to give her one last gift, the gift of letting go.
A friend told me that some animals are just special. And as I write this to you today, I can tell you that she was one of them. I still feel her in this house. Sometime I am certain I see her, sitting in the ray of sunshine that comes in the balcony door or on the back of the couch next to me as I watch tv.
She has left a hole I am not certain can ever be filled, and we miss her terribly.