They are called "the ties that bind" for a reason - the strings and threads and ropes that entangle us, one to another, with their various lengths and colors and purposes and varieties of tensile strength.
Today, all physical ties were loosed as our dear and darling Luna departed this plane for another. The one we all really belong to, anyway.
You will note that I called her our dear, for she was that - she was beloved by many of us. Luna came to us when my son was about eight years old, and she was two years old already. (That was about 22 years ago.)
Our journey began at the local humane society. K and I and entered a room full of cats and kittens that were vying for the opportunity to be adopted. There were kitten parades and cat conventioneers, kitty klowns and feline frolicking on a scale seldom seen in the outside world. Stacked around the periphery of the room were cages, with doors open. Most were empty, but immediately, my son gravitated to a small gray cat who was curled inside one of the wire enclosures.
The card on the cage read, Diva. She turned her head, and tossed us a surly, disinterested glare.
"Look, son! Look at these cute kitties! Look at this one over here - with the stripes!"
"I like this one."
"No, but look, honey! Here's a fluffy cat with a funny tail! How cute! How about this one?"
"I like this cat."
I attempted to distract him, dissuade him, and direct his attention to one of the lively, funny cats that cavorted in the center of the room. He would have none of it.
We left that afternoon, with a gray and angry cat named Diva, and a very happy little boy who knew he had chosen wisely. I, however, was not so sure.
Upon opening our front door, the cat immediately ran into K's bedroom and would not come out from under the bed for a week. (Well, she used the litterbox when we weren't looking, but she refused to participate willingly in any family activities.) We shoved food and water to her, in her cozy cavern of self-confinement. The pattern was set.
She = The Boss. We = So Very Not.
And so it began. K renamed her, Luna, a name that fit her independent and somewhat distant nature. She was haughty, moody, funny, wistful, and elegant. She was a real lady.
She was small, but she had the heart of a lioness. I saw her chase a full-grown german shephard down the driveway in her younger days. She was an accomplished huntress. She established a "killing field" in the side yard of the farmhouse where she would daily deposit freshly disposed carcasses of field mice, hummingbirds, gophers, and moles. She loved to lie next to you for warmth and grace you with brief bouts of bliss as she snuggled real close. When she felt like it.
My son, a typical boy, would lovingly pet and annoy her at the same time so that she didn't know whether to purr or hiss - and so, with a rumpled purr-hiss, she would delight in angry fury until she ran away, completely unhinged.
She was badly injured once, at the hands of some young ruffians, for no reason other than sport. I was ready to put her to sleep. The vet told me, "We had a saying in school - you put a pile of cat bones in a closet and close the door. In a week, you'll have a cat. Give her a chance." So we did. She stayed in a cage for a month - and she recuperated completely, strong and agile enough to run and jump and climb like she always had.
She was a creature with an uncanny strength of will and determination. She was a delicate, porcelain beauty, so lightly tethered to the world that her feet hardly touched the ground, it seemed. She was shadow and smoke. She was perceptive and sly. She was shyly sweet.
Luna was with me when my son left for the Marines, and she kept me company until he came home five years later. And when I had to move to a new place where cats were not allowed, C&A, dear friends and next-door neighbors divine, offered her shelter. She walked, somewhat haughtily, into their home and never looked back.
For the past five years C & A have loved and adored and catered to her kitty whims with generosity and genuine love. Luna even let C hold and carry her as though she were a spoilt, plump, satisfied little baby with a long gray tail. (In all the years of our association, Luna would never deign to let me hold her, but she took to C immediately and had no such restrictions in their relationship.)
C & A made sure to always include me in the Luna-centric family joy.
She had a very long life for a cat, filled with affection, adoration, and a warm, devotional love. She ruled the roost, wherever she was, and she never compromised, no matter what. It was Luna's way - or the highway, mister!
God rest her sweet little kitty soul.