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Self Portrait in Maggie's Eye

Over Easter weekend, 1997, the cat Bonn had brought home from where it had been abandoned weeks before, gave birth to five black cats. Those five cats became one of the focal points of our lives. They were our family, our feline children, our constant companions and the source of much joy, laughter, and love.

Maggie was the firstborn. Her statement, "I was here first; everything's mine" was taken as a simple truth by all of her siblings. She wasn't the Alpha of the pride, she was The Big Sister. If anyone was not feeling well -- feline or human -- she became Nursemaid Maggie and stayed with them until they were better.


When The Boy was growing up, Maggie was his cat. Part of this bonding came about after The Boy broke his leg and the break took months to heal. Maggie started sleeping with The Boy, then started sleeping on top of The Boy's broken leg, trying to get it to heal.

When The Boy left for college, Maggie felt abandoned. She, like most of the cats, liked my warm lap and warm hands in the winter. Seeing an opportunity to lay an early-in-the-year claim, she started settling into my lap that summer so by the time the cold weather set in, everyone knew my lap was hers.

I started referring to her as My Lap Muse, even though it has been very difficult to get any writing/editing done with her in my lap. You see, when she's in my lap, at least one hand needs to be rubbing her belly with the other hand, preferably, petting her head.


When her siblings began to go to The Crab Shack, it was a shock to us. Bonn and I had expected to have them all for years and years longer than we did. First Bear left, then Tony, then Tigger, then my beloved Ani.

Maggie, the first cat then became the last of the five cats.


The thing is, Maggie chose me. I don't think I've ever been chosen like that before. I chose Ani (much to her annoyance) but Maggie chose me. It's been a very humbling experience, knowing that a cat wants to be with you, depends on you to make time for her and give her the time and love she wants from me.

And through that, I've come to depend on her. If I'm sitting at my computer for too long without her in my lap I start to notice something doesn't seem right. She usually sleeps next to me in bed, getting a last bit of belly rub time before I fall asleep. She's become my companion, the cat I depend on.


Over the past months Maggie has been feeling her age. She's lost a lot of weight. The flea treatment we gave her a few months ago caused a bad reaction and we thought we were going to lose her then. She's been eating less and less, waiting (impatiently) for me to grill her chicken breasts for dinner.

Bonn has been saying for a long time that she thinks Maggie has been sticking around for me more than anything. Nursemaid Maggie is afraid to leave me alone.

Saturday night I finally told Maggie it was okay if she needed to leave. I will miss her terribly, but I understand that she misses her brothers and sister and she's ready to go to The Crab Shack. Sunday she slept most of the day, seemed to be in pain whenever I picked her up, and didn't want to eat any of the freshly grilled chicken I made for her. I was afraid she was taking me up on my statement before I could change my mind.

Bonn and I agreed it was time to start counting days -- good days versus bad days. Yesterday was clearly a bad day.

It turns out today has been a good day for her. She drank some water early in the morning and then ate some (leftover) chicken -- and has kept it down.

I don't know how much longer I have with Maggie, but I'm preparing myself for the worst. Unfortunately, that means hovering over her and trying to snuggle with her at every available moment. She's glared at me a few times lately, saying, "I'm not dead yet, you know" and kicked/gutted my hand away from her.

She continues to be full of surprises.


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