Some time ago I tried to describe how my beloved cat Monika seemed disturbed by Mom's failing health, which she seemed to sense before even Mom herself did. It was as though she had some sort of sixth sense, or at least an acutely-tuned awareness of an inevitability already in the air. But this, this one seemed to sneak up on her: Monika has died.
Her health had been failing, or maybe it was just time catching up with her. She was sixteen, after all, the oldest cat I've ever had in my life, and her natural exuberance was bound to dim with age. Yet she continued, even this morning, to do all the things she's always done, bumming food off of me and rubbing against me, and curling up at my feet.
Still, it had been apparent that her time was winding down. And when I came home from work tonight, she laid motionless in front of the recliner in the living room, the very chair she had claimed as her own from the moment we moved into the new house. I thought she was already gone, but her silvery fur twitched from breathing. I put a blanket in a box and made a little bed for her. I carefully set her inside--she yowled desperately as I picked her up, the only evidence I've seen that she's felt any pain--and sat beside her.
I talked to her. She knows my voice, of course, and I thought the sound of it might provide some comfort to her in her final moments. I said her name over and over, and stroked her between the ears, and reminded her once again that she's the most beautiful cat in the world.
Then she stopped breathing. Simple as that.
Tomorrow's Thanksgiving. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot to be thankful for right now, but I'm trying to remember this: Monika was a wonderful cat, and I gave her the best home I could, and I loved her with all my heart.