Lucy loved jazz music, especially the melodic, blowsy, swinging standards, sax and trumpet. Definitely not drum solos. Ben Webster, Art Farmer, Miles Davis in less boppy phases, Gerry Mulligan all passed the audition. If there is a heaven, Lucy is sitting on Gene Harris’ piano and Coleman Hawkins is blowing “Body and Soul” into her ear. It’s a small comforting thought, though I’d much rather she still be in her chair.
She came to me when she was 8 weeks old, chased under the fence by my neighbor. I let her sit outside all night, until the next evening, because a pet seemed just too much in my crazy life. The next night, I heard her cry, saw her cute little white chin and paws, and relented. Not before she bit me though.
Lucy liked to sleep in her basket in the winter sunshine, to chase her wiffle ball and to spy on the neighbors through the windows. She hated cats so bad she chipped both fangs by running full speed into glass doors. She flew on a plane once, to come to Utah. In our first house here, she would perch on the newel post of the stairs to look out the window when she waited for me to come home. She was still here when I got back from New Zealand, and all the other times I had to leave her behind.
Seventeen is old for a cat, especially one with Lucy’s list of problems. Three years after a stroke is amazing. She took going blind better than we did watching her bump into things. She was a tough old girl and even on her last day, she wasn’t planning to go. I could have kept her another day, another hour, but none of us could handle another seizure and we had to say good-bye on the 20th of August.
When my friend Marlene lost her cat and dog in the same month last fall, she said that the house felt strangely empty. I greeted Lucy every time I came into the house, gave her pets when I took a break from my computer, held her every morning while I did my little writing routine. Since I’ve been home all day, she would come sit by my desk, in her blindness, just because. Empty is hardly the word. It’s like a sucker punch to wonder where she is and then remember.
I’m glad Lucy isn’t suffering any more. She was the amazing wonder cat in her miraculous recoveries but she couldn’t last forever. Even so, I wasn’t ready to let her go.
That neighbor who chased her under the fence 17 years ago used to say, “Annie darling (that’s what he called me), we think we take care of those pets, but they are really God’s little angels he sends to take care of us.” Lucy the fur-coated angel, eyes blissfully squinting, grooving with the jazz legends. Thank you, Lucy, for taking such good care of me. I miss her so.