Saturday, December 12, 2015


Sixteen years ago today, my parents surprised me with a kitten--the inimitable Millennium Joy. She was about twelve weeks old when I got her, so she weighed maybe two-and-a-half to three pounds. She was a tiny flurry of multi-colored fur, a kitten with grandiose dreams of being a race car. And she was so very sweet and cuddly, too.

That first night, she fell asleep on my chest in bed, content with her new digs and not seeming to mind this woman who talked in a constant high pitch to her, or this small college apartment. She liked having her head and body scratched as we drifted towards sleep. When the train went by outside (I lived about half a block from a well-used track), I barely noticed. My poor kitten, however, jumped about three feet in the air, and landed on my chest again. Her wide eyes stared out the window with a bewildered expression while I giggled helplessly.

"I'm sorry, baby. You'll get used to it!" And she did.

She got used to everything--to being stuck in her travel carrier for the two-hour drive from Chico to Folsom to visit my parents. She got used to being around other cats--Maggie, Bella and Duchess, Harley. She was remarkably unfazed when I fostered the Peanuts Gang for two weeks (Harley, meanwhile, was terrified of them). She got used to moving, and she even got grudgingly used to her mommy being in England for a year.

When I came home from England for good, Ms. Millie came running out to see me, but she would not let me touch her. Every time I stepped forward, she meowed at me and took a decidedly huge step back. She didn't let me out of her sight, and followed me around as I unpacked my toiletries and pajamas and got ready to shower...but she also didn't let me touch her.

In the end, all was well. I woke up the next morning to find her curled up against my side, and she purred when I started scratching her ears. "Yes, Mommy, I was dreadfully mad at you," she seemed to be saying. "But you're all forgiven now."

I never left her again.

Aside from occasionally staying with my parents when I traveled, Millie and I were constant companions for the rest of her life, and I didn't even leave her in June, when I took her to the vet for that last heartbreaking trip. Leaving her was never an option--she deserved to have me there until the very end, and she did.

I had fifteen years with this little cat named Millie. Fifteen years of cuddles, purrs, loud talking, pouncing, putting her nose in everyone's business, playing the "I got your nose! I got your toes!" game, selfies with Mommy, Tuna Time...Fifteen years hardly seems enough--yet it's more than some cats get. We were lucky, Ms. Millie and I.

"Did any of my boyfriends email me? My fan club?" 

I miss her, every day. I don't cry constantly--of course not--but I simply miss her. I miss her very strident voice and her soft, rumbling purr. I miss her dainty little feet and her bright eyes. I miss hearing her jingle all over the place (the bell on her collar). I miss her presence.

...And I feel oh, so lucky to have known her.

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