Today you're turning 1. This is not really your birthday, but your rescue-versary. You were such a charming boy that even if I had no plans of adding a new baby to the PAWsome Cats team, I chose to give you your furever home.
You were my dream cat. My mom had her own black cat so many years ago, and her stories of petting her cat's black shiny coat made me dream of you. I imagined photographing you with your bright green eyes standing out of your round face in lusciously black fur. I imagined so many years of mischief being with you, as you are such a fun character.
Indeed, you brought a lot of mischief and laughter in our home. Rue was so jealous of you, but only because you loved life like there's no tomorrow. You played so hard you used to conk out beside your toy, where you were playing. We would gently tug at your ear, paw, tail, but you wouldn't budge as you were recharging. After a power nap, you're back to your mischievous play.
Oh, how you loved fetching your favorite toys! While Qish and Rue would hide during vet visits at home, you willingly sacrificed yourself as their source of entertainment, alternately bringing them your toys for a fetch play. You also did not fear going to the vets' clinic. In fact, you enjoyed it so much you used to roll around their floor, much to our pleasure. There was so much life in you, little boy.
Until you stopped eating your food.
Until you stopped playing and just slept all day.
Until your bright green eyes showed abnormality.
I brought you to our vets right away, little one. You had anisocoria, or uneven dilation of the eyes. It's not really a condition, but a symptom for an underlying illness.
As I celebrated the fact that you tested negative for FIV/FeLV, it didn't prepare me for the worst news a cat owner can recieve. They said you have FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis). It's a death sentence, and you were unfairly chosen to have it.
I will never forget what happened in the consultation room that night. My mind just blacked out. There were so many thoughts, but they were all incoherent. I was shaking, but I can't speak. They were telling me more tests had to be done, and I just nodded. But I didn't cry, because it didn't feel real. I left you there at the clinic because they can take care of you better. I walked for 45 minutes in my office clothes from the clinic to our home, because I thought it would wake me up from this nightmare. If I could walk to the moon and back so everything goes back to how happy we were, I would.
Who knew you will never come home again in one piece after that vet visit?
The "visit" turned out to be a 3-week stay full of love until life slowly slipped out of you. We celebrated Christmas in September, had dinner together on weekdays, slept together on weekends, and painfully accepted that you were only destined to spend a short lifetime with us. I tried to enjoy it as much as I can, because you were a dream I was not meant to keep.
Finally, on Oct. 13, 2013, you went on your journey to the Rainbow Bridge. You didn't even let me send you off. You slipped away, 2 hours after I left you to take a shower. I was there in 15 minutes after Dr. Riza called to say that this may be the time for our last goodbye, but you chose to say it to Dr. Riza and Dr. Melay instead. Perhaps you didn't want me to see your final seizure, or the last breath that you drew. When I got there, you were so limp, so soft, so...lifeless. I finally took you home again the following day, but you were in a million tiny pieces. Your ashes are the only reminder that you once ruled our home.
If there's one lesson that you left me with, it's to EMBRACE LIFE WITH PASSION. Even on your last day when you were already weak and wobbly, you still managed to walk to your favorite sun spot at your suite's balcony, lounging on the fake grass. You even scratched me in defiance when I carried you back to your room, because I thought it was too hot for you. You wanted things to be normal even if you weren't. You wanted to enjoy life even if you were in pain. You just had to soak in the sun, and everything seemed okay.
In your short time of 7 months with us, you always had the zest for life, even if Qish smacks you in the face, or you get sprayed with water for being on the kitchen counter. You were so full of life – maybe that was all the energy you were supposed to have, had you lived to your senior years. And for that, I am grateful. You may not have lived that long, but you touched so many people's heart, because you were such a charming little boy with a vibrant character.
I am trying to help other unfortunate pet parents who have to deal with FIP by offering emotional support or knowledge. I believe what happened to you has a higher purpose – maybe to create awareness, educate people and touch more lives. You are such a hero in our eyes, baby, so brave to fight a disease bigger and stronger than you. I know you are pain-free now, but I miss you terribly.
I love you, Sabio Leãozinho. My wise little lion, happy 1st rescue-versary. Enjoy your party at the Rainbow Bridge.
Longing to see you,