This is Dusty.

The Cat Who Came Before Me

Today is the 5th anniversary of the day she went to the Rainbow Bridge. That's just 4 months before I was born. She had something wrong with her heart; part of it got to be 5 times the size it was supposed to be, and it had a hard time getting blood through it. The person at the stabby place said she was probably born that way and that they were really kind of lucky, because most kitties born that way don't live to be 6 years old, and Dusty lived to be 13.

They found out about her heart over a year before, and the guy at the stabby place gave them medicine that made her life very comfortable for all that time. It was only the last day that she was miserable, and when the People took her to see him, even though they hoped he would make her feel better, deep down they knew she wasn't coming home.

The guy at the stabby place took pictures of her insides and looked at them, and said her chest was filled with fluid; he could give her something in an IV that would help push the fluid out, but... He had tears in his eyes and the People knew. It was time to let her go to the Bridge, where she could run again, and play with the other pets while she waited for them to get there. They asked him to give her a shot that would make her go to sleep, then let her slip away to the Bridge.

Dusty had put up with tons of shots over the year. She tolerated them shoving a lot of pills down her throat every day, she had blood taken out of her body and pee sucked out of her bladder every month, pictures take of her insides a lot, and she even had a few ultrasounds of her heart and her kidneys. She put up with it all without much fuss. But that day, when the stabby guy was going to give her that shot, she decided enough was enough. She was NOT letting anyone stab her again. Not ever.

She reared back and hissed at him, and started to fight as hard as she could. And with one more big hiss, like someone snapped their fingers, she ran off to the Bridge all by herself. They were sad, but they were proud of her for going on her terms, not theirs. Before she got sick she was a feisty kitty, and she left just as feisty.

The People still miss her, I think. And they miss Hank the dog, too. But the Woman has been thinking about Dusty a lot lately, mostly because so many kitties from the blogosphere have gone to the Rainbow Bridge in the last year, and a lot of them looked kind of like Dusty.

After Dusty was gone, the Woman didn't want another cat. She missed Dusty too much and thought it hurt too much to lose a pet; she also knew Hank was getting older and dreaded him going off to the Bridge.

While she was missing Dusty, I was being born.

My first People were very young and didn't have me for very long when they realized they couldn't take care of me. They were friends of the Younger Human, and when he told the People about me, they mulled it over for a very short time and then told him he could bring me home.

The second she saw me, the Woman was totally in love with me, and I have owned her ever since.

Hank went to the Bridge two years later, when we were in Ohio. The People were very sad, but they knew they had done everything they could for him--heck, the Woman even cooked for him when his own food was gross to him--and they knew that Dusty was already at the Rainbow Bridge, waiting to take care of him. That made it a little easier, I think. And made the Woman realize that she could survive her pets going to the Bridge before her,and her heart had room for more.

Someday Hank will be waiting for me, and he'll introduce me to Dusty, and because I know she was a super snarky kitty, I already know I'll like her. And we'll wait for Buddah, and any Cats That Come After Him.

And when the People get there, we'll all be there. Even Ataturk, the Cat Who Came Before the Cat Who Came Before Me.

The Woman misses Dusty, especially today. But it will be all right, because some day she'll see Dusty again. And Hank. And Ataturk. And me and Buddah, if we go there first. She knows that now, as sure as she knows that I will push Buddah down the stairs every chance I get, and that I will start bugging her for dinner over an hour early.

Dusty would be proud.

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