There was that one day, 11 years ago this Spring, where I decided my cat Fiona needed a new friend. Ok, My cat Fiona was 10 and I decided that I didn’t want to live a cat-less life, so I wanted to adopt earlier rather than later. I began looking into the Athens County Humane society who had this gorgeous kitten.
He was handsome, fluffy and had cinnamon colored eyes. I knew that this kitty needed to come to my house and he needed a big name. Magnus! Maximus! … Biff! Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore was a favorite of mine. Biff seemed like a good name for kitty. One who would be loved and be fluffy. Little did I know that he would take after his namesake, bring high jinx, laughter (so much laughter), love and tenderness into my house. But…he also brought a littermate, Joshua. Joshua was Biff’s best friend in the book. And Biff helps Josh become the Jesus he needed to be.
Biff, I swear had thumbs. You could see him puzzling out issues, with a quirky head tilt. He would open doors, cabinets, cram himself into bags and baskets with the aplomb a cat of his stature has.
He was the kind of cat that could knock shit over while looking you in the eye, and two minutes later you were laughing at him. You could never stay angry with him for too long. He had a way of being charming and all the while too sure of himself. He was the first of my cats to acquire a middle name. It was Eugene. He was the first to require a second middle name, Huxtable. When I got married, he got a second last name…and he needed each name. These names weren’t planned, he’d do something like climb curtains and a name would come out. “Biff Eugene Huxtable White Straw!” In funny times, we called him Bub, or Bubby. “Where you goin’ there Bub?” and “Where’s my Bubby?”
There are days when I would be working in my office and I’d hear Biff’s purr behind me on a bookshelf. He would be there asleep. There were times when I was stressed that he would come in, unbeknownst to me, and I would feel a gentle tap on my leg and him reaching up to get a scritch. You were never alone in the bathroom because even if you did close the door, Biff would slam it open with a “Ah, this isn’t supposed to be closed.” There were days when healing from my broken ankle were only made manageable by him. Biff was a nurse, a protector. If gargoyles were meant to be symbols of protection, mine was a big, 22lbs, orange, fluffy cat.
The day after Christmas, I found Biff the way no other pet lover should find their loved one. I prepared when Fiona was declining, I got no such luxury with Biff. I found him, breathing heavy on the bathroom floor, and all I could do was cry and hold him. In a matter of minutes he was gone, but he wasn’t alone in those final minutes.
In many ways I feel cursed with the pictures in my head of those final minutes, cradling him in my arms. When I go to sleep at night, I still see and hear all the things. His death came out of no where for us. No reason. It just was. But I can honestly say I am glad my Bubby, wasn’t alone.
I struggle. I struggle with depression, of that I don’t hide. I struggle with grief and loss constantly. I wrestle with it much like Jacob did with the angel in the Bible. I don’t have a bum hip from the experience, but I do feel like I’m missing a portion of myself. I’m most definitely wounded. If there’s a blessing to be had, it’s that Biff was in my life. He made it better in so many ways.
I don’t know how, or why pets mean so much. I don’t know why some of us grieve for them as hard as we do. I struggle with the emphasis between human and pet. I don’t know why my grief is so difficult. I mean, I know “why” but I don’t know why.
Today it has been three weeks.
The house is too quite without his stomping through it. Bathroom time is too private. I miss my angel, my comedian, my protector, my nurse. I miss his gigantic purr and his huge paws. And I miss his eyes. I miss those cinnamon colored eyes, and the affection and companionship Biff gave to me and my husband. I miss our Bubby.