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Mini Me, My Familiar

By Sara Nuss- Galles
By Sara Nuss- Galles

Although more than a week has passed I realized that I’m still angling the kitchen chairs to make it easy to jump from floor to table. I obsessively close the toilet lid for safety’s sake. I shut the front and sliding doors even when I’m merely reaching out for my shoes. And as I climb into bed at night, I reflexively pause to listen for the pitter patter of four dear paws to join me.

I lost my 17 ½ year old Mini Me recently. I took her to the vet to be euthanized after her chronic renal failure morphed into acute, and she weakened by the hour. In the dimly lit room I cradled Mini in my arms and nuzzled her velvety head as the elixir flowed into her now svelte six-pound body. In less than 60 seconds, Mini Me softened and relaxed and she was on the other side, suffering no more. I knew it was our last time together and for another minute or two, I cuddled and whispered to her in both English and Yiddish, both of which she’d grown up with.

I suspect my ingrained feline household habits will continue for many months. After all, nearly two decades of routines take far longer than 60 seconds to pass. In the beloved pet club, people often refer to dead pets as having crossed the rainbow bridge. I’ve never been invested in that. Rather, Mini Me has crossed into my heart and memory vault, sharing space with the precious four-legged beings I’ve been blessed with since I was 21 years old.

Sara  Nuss-Galles' cats, Mini and Emma
Sara Nuss-Galles’ cats, Mini and Emma

Mini Me was preceded in passing last November by Emma, her 18-year-old half-sister, same mother, different father. It’s likely that I babied and treasured Emma more – despite being tiny, Emma was the alpha, and she loved being kissed and cuddled and carried around. Mini had second-child syndrome and for years waited to see what was okay for her to do. After Emma died Mini seemed lost and confused. Eventually she found her place – with me. She became my familiar, my constant companion, on my lap whenever possible, tailing me as I did my tasks. Especially, she became a muse in my office, nestling on the cardboard boxes that store decades of papers, and sprawled atop the precarious piles on my desk. Many’s the time I continued writing solely because Mini was loath to leave the comfort of my lap.

We shared so many things: Vaseline on our lips on rising and, again, at bed-time, the New York Times daily crossword, drops of milk from my cereal bowl, occasional processed meats and cheeses, and my too infrequent yoga and floor exercises. She is missed.

Emma has been waiting in a little white box with a wooden heart embossed with her name. When Mini Me’s ashes are returned she and Emma will be together again. There’s a sun-drenched spot in our garden where the sisters will be reunited and, together again, nurture a flowering bush. Rest in peace my dear girls.
Sara Nuss-Galles, of Laguna Niguel, is a member of Laguna Beach’s Third Street Writers. She has completed a collection of illustrated short stories, “Those Seven Deadly Sins.”


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  1. A message all of us with dear animals can understand. I had a brief conversation with a woman in the cat food aisle at Petsmart. She shared that all her cat could eat now was pate and that she expected that soon she would be losing her. “I have loved all the animals I have had. Each one was different, with its own personality, but I enjoyed every one.” We lost Bonita in August, “The Best Cat Ever.” (See Village Matters Column) Now we have Reggie with her own loving and quirky ways.

  2. Sara your lovely piece brought me back to losing Mesmer, my cat who thought he was a dog. He was also my co- therapist. Once, I actually had a patient offer to pay him.
    Love to you and Arie

  3. Sara, Thank you for sharing your intimate and heartfelt details about the bond that you had with both MiniMe and Emma. As someone who has worked with special needs cats for almost 30 years, I’ve certainly experienced much of this similar love and many, MANY times over, the heartbreak of having to help release them from their pain and suffering. The one thing I’ve learned is that love never dies. Yes, that sounds simplistic, but it is true. The love we share with both people and animals that have been in our life, is all we have left, once they leave. But it is everything . . . and this love is truly eternal.
    I hope in time, your loss and sadness will pass and you will just keep the good memories close to your heart. Kim Rockshaw/HealingHopeCatSanctuary

  4. I am so sorry for your loss of Mini Me. Your story touched my heart and so thankful my friend shared your story with me as yesterday June 2, 2018 would have been my beloved cat Bailey’s 19th birthday. She passed away in July 2016 at 17 years old and also had acute renal failure and I had to put her down which was the hardest thing I have gone through. I still miss her so much and life doesn’t seem the same without her,

    Three months of grieving and depression I started volunteering my photography services to The Ark San Juan Companion Animal Rescue, photographing the new cats/kittens that come into the rescue program. I feel like I have a purpose again and would like to think my Bailey would be proud of me helping her feline friends find homes. I am not sure I will adopt again as my heart was so broken and still healing, yet in the meantime I can love on all these precious kitties who have been abandoned or owner relinquished. They bring me such peace and joy even in the brief time I am with them during their photoshoots.

    I agree that cats never die, they just fall asleep in our hearts.

  5. Love reading your writing pieces. I can relate with putting 3 dogs down in the last 23 years. So sorry for your loss of both your beloved cats,
    Auntie Carol


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