Mini Me, My Familiar
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.
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.”