His heart breaks at the farewell of Benjamin BadKitten | The life

Fifteen years ago our daughter brought me a fluffy black and brown kitten after she and her husband found out they couldn’t keep their new pet in an apartment on campus. From the baby cat’s first day with us, he followed me everywhere and claimed my lap as his refuge. He was also a climber, particularly fascinated by the wooden dollhouse I displayed on a library table. The kitten quickly learned to jump on the table and in the living room of the dollhouse, where he fit in quite well, after beating all the miniature furniture on the floor. When this game got boring, he scaled the dollhouse wall, climbed onto its roof, and pooped on the shingles. I hadn’t named him yet, but after his crime on the roof, how could he be anything other than Benjamin BadKitten? Then our daughter called to tell me that she and our son-in-law could finally keep the kitten and that they were coming to take him home to Oregon. After the call ended, I held little Benjamin close to my heart. I loved him and I didn’t know how I could let him go. When our sweet daughter realized he and I had formed an unbreakable bond, she knew Benjamin BadKitten was already home.

I’ve been writing about BBK in this column for over a decade, and readers have responded with affection to stories of my Maine coon cat’s numerous acts of misbehavior. Nice people whose names I didn’t know stopped me at the grocery store to ask, “What did BadKitten do now?” Every summer, Benjamin was my yard boss, promoted, demoted, fired, rehired, and always forgiven, even when he pooped in my yard shoe. In October, shortly after getting an A on his medical, Benjamin seemed lethargic, but I was sure he would wake up in time for another season in the garden. At Christmas, his health declined sharply and sharply, and I felt my heart break. I begged him to get well, told him I needed him, and gave him lifetime permission to pee in the thought bed. Soon, however, he became too frail even to jump into bed in my writing room. I put my great-grandmother’s stool by the bed, to help her climb.

Benjamin died there earlier this week, lying next to me on the small bed, with Lee standing nearby, as Dr. Nancy Yorinks, DVM, gently brought him back in peace. It’s too painful to share more details about his last two months, so I will remember and celebrate my BadKitten as he lived. In remembrance, I’ll see him everywhere: Jumping on and grooming his best friend, Rags, our 80-pound Old English Sheepdog. Curled up between Rags’ huge front paws for a nap. Looking among the weeds in the overgrown garden of our new home in Moscow. A junior member of dubious status of my quirky, incompetent garden staff, along with Rags and Kaylee, our golden retriever. Climbing into my lap, purring and asking to be petted, while I tried to plant flowers. Perched on a raised garden bed, alert to any sudden movement of a menacing zucchini. Inaugurating a live mouse in our laundry room and delivering a freshly caught pine siskin every Mother’s Day. Sharing Lee’s lounge chair to watch Seahawks games. In full effervescence on the 2006 Olympics, his nose glued to the TV screen, to criticize the triple axes and the double salchows of the skaters. Presidential candidate in 2016, raising a 15 cent donation during his short campaign. I kept the coins in my keepsake box, along with the lovely letter of support from its donor.

I will see him trotting behind me, coming and going in the garden. Pretend to listen while I think about my next column. Lying in his patch of light in the living room, warmed by the morning sun. Waiting in front of his bowl of food in the kitchen and following me from room to room. Always my shadow. I loved my BadKitten every day of his life. If the power of love could have saved him, he would still be with me, ready for gardening season, with special plans for the pansy bed.

Craft Rozen is grateful to readers who have followed BBK’s misadventures over the years. He was her ever-loved muse and comfort animal. Email him at [email protected]

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