We lost the last of our fearless warriors this week. A surgery gone bad so to say unexpected would not be accurate as surgery is always a risk, but we were hopeful. Maddie was part of our amazing family of 5 cats and a golden retriever who traveled bravely with us from Atlanta to Utah to Hawaii and Portland. They handled it with grace and for that we were grateful. Each loss was painful, each left a hole in our hearts. Each one was unique, and we loved them for their differences. Maddie, along with the awful grief of losing her, has caused us another type of pain. Maddie was super shy from the beginning. Born out in the wild she was rescued at 5 weeks old. She was so afraid of everything. We couldn’t hold her we could barely look her in the eye without her heading for the nearest place to hide. But we loved her at first site and knew she was meant for us. We had to learn how to stand back and give her the space she needed to trust us and feel safe. And was it ever hard – she was so darned beautiful, and we wanted to hold her so much. She had a sixth sense – no matter what we did to try and “act normally” when we needed to get her in a carrier hours before the event she would hide and not come out even for food. We never knew how she could sense this.

And so it was that each milestone we made was a huge victory for us and we hoped for her. The first time she ate with us in the room, the first time she stayed in our presence for more than an hour, the first time she sat close although we still couldn’t touch her, the first time I could pet her head – oh that was so wonderful to smell her soft fur, each first brought us such joy. And she had her companion with Duncan our Maine Coone. Oh how she loved him. She missed him dearly when he passed away last year. But over the years we finally worked up to where we were now — her spending most of her time with us – sitting with me while I combed her, sitting with us when we worked. Sleeping in a bed near us and, the most amazing trust for a cat – actually sleeping on her back with her tummy exposed. But we still could never hold her. I had often said I hope she never gets sick because we would never be able to medicate her. And thankfully for 15 years she never had as much as a cold. This year brought some challenges and we had to find creative ways to treat her. It was sad, it was hard on her. It was hard on us. We had come so far yet now we had to stress her by getting her to the vet several times and giving her medication. And when she had her surgery, and when I knew she was not going to make it, I wanted so badly to be able to hold her and comfort her. But in the end, that comfort would have only been for me. We just never broke the barrier to the holding part. We loved Maddie with all our hearts. She was so loving and truly trusting in her special way. She brought such happiness to us but differently than the others. Often her playtime was at night when we were in bed, we could hear her “talk” to her toys. In the morning they would be scattered all over. It seemed so lonely, yet it brought a smile to our faces knowing she was a happy cat. And that is the thing – she had a happy life. Not exactly the one I would have wanted for her, but a life she lived on her terms and I just pray she knew how much her sweet life meant to us.

A donation was made in Madison's memory and the memorial was created on November 10, 2020.

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