on Emilia

Emilia died yesterday, July 4, 2008. We found her lying on the pavement around the corner from the front façade of our building. As we pulled up the driveway, I saw her. My first instinct was to believe she was laying there waiting for us in the sun, but then I saw that she was dead. I ran out of the car to her, the cool breeze blowing the occasional hair from her coat into the air. I could see a bit of purple and red around one of her canines. I touched her still warm body. We had only been gone for an hour and to think that just an hour before, she had been purring and happy, rolling in the rear of the building enjoying the nice day.

Though I only knew her about two years, almost as long as I’ve been here, I will cherish her and all the memories we shared in that brief time. From the first moment I laid eyes upon her at the animal sanctuary in the outskirts of Bangor — she stood out from all the other cats, perhaps it was her coloring, her red collar, or the fact that she was a sassy cat that came up to me while all the other cats remained listless — to the first day I saw her at the house when I returned from the US on November 1st 2006, she was always attentive and inquisitive.

She enjoyed to attack my feet while I slept; if they were uncovered, she’d take her right paw and claw at them. When she was hungry, she would make for my face in the morning in the same way and she would not desist until I gave in. She never grew out of this last behavior, perhaps her most endearing. Though she also loved to wait for me outside the bathroom while I showered.

She was a tiny little thing, though she did put on a bit of weight because I didn’t know how to feed her. However, small she was, the size of a button.

She had plenty of space to run around when we lived in Bangor, though she couldn’t go outside. But the outside was captivating to her. She would sit on the window ledge in the kitchen and stare out. Or she would sit in the living room and stare out into the sea.

When we moved to Belfast, she got out on several occasions but she would wait outside to be let back in. She was a homebody but she did crave to go outside every once in a while.

When we moved to Saintfield, she finally could go out but was more content inside. Of course with the horrible weather, it wasn’t such a tough choice.

She wasn’t afraid of people, she loved to be surrounded by them. She was apprehensive of dogs though. She tolerated Gulliver and Uma, especially the latter’s goofiness around her. Uma always was shy and goofy around Emilia, perhaps it was because Emilia never was comfortable with dogs enough to let them cuddle with her as Tommy, our other cat. Though she was known to sleep next to them. Yet she preferred to sleep on the pillow I’d set for her on the floor. She’d curl up on it and sleep through the night.

I’ll miss her and everything about her. Her lifeless body was Emilia but at the same time it wasn’t her. It was an empty vessel that lacked the hypnotizing magic and beauty of a living, breathing, moving Emilia.

I can hear her meowing. I never knew what she was saying sometimes, especially when she’d prattle on. Perhaps she was saying that she loved me, I don’t know, all I could say was ‘What is it baby?’

Now, all I can say is “I miss you baby, I’m sorry you died so soon. I’m so, so sorry.” I wish I had been there next to her so she would haven’t died alone and told her how much I loved her and that she was indeed my baby.

I never thought I’d become one of those people, but I have, thanks to a small loving cat. She was the best thing I encountered in Northern Ireland, perhaps the only good thing.

Now, each time I pull into the driveway, I’ll see her lifeless body there, see her struggling to make her way back home after being hit by a car, coming back to me. But I wasn’t there and she wouldn’t quite make it all the way. I hope she knew that I loved her, perhaps she loved me too. I’d like to think so.

I’m left with that same predicament I experienced in Biology at St. John’s five years ago when we were dissecting cats: Here is a cold, lifeless body, what sparked life into it? Where is this catalyst of life, I wish I knew so that I could reanimate Emilia. I don’t know.

All things aside, I’ll miss you Emilia. Thank you for changing my life. I love you profoundly. And although my words and tears, my thoughts and suffering, cannot express what you truly meant to me, I hope they are an atonement for your loss. Again, thank you little girl.