Some of you may know that I lost my wonderful, devoted little furbaby Sparky on Saturday, June 26. Today, in what would have been his "official" 17th birthday, I wanted to commemorate Sparky and the special kind of joy he brought me.
I say "official" birthday because I don't know his exact birthdate. When he ran through my front door on December 28, 1993 while I was unloading groceries I first guessed he was some kind of rodent because all I saw was a blur. Once I saw he was a cat, I thought he was quite possibly the ugliest little cat I had ever seen. Let me explain - - he had big, huge ears, big green eyes and was an electric orange color. Poor little guy. My cat Dylan typically didn't like other cats. Let's just say that Dylan was a bit of a male diva. But he liked the bright little orange cat that ran in. And so did I. I guessed he was around 6 months old, an opinion confirmed by my then-vet. So I went back 6 months and came up with June 28 as Sparky's official birthdate.
Little did I know then that this friendly, affectionate and very bright orange boy (and the orange would settle down into a very attractive, more muted color) would turn out to be a true companion to me for almost 17 years. We would go through much together, Sparky and I. We shared many moves (at least 10 by my count, with more than half being cross-country moves), job changes, my first (owned) home, new friendships, lost friendships, a new feline addition to the family (Mathis), a new marriage and the addition of a human child, the loss of both Dylan and Mathis, tears and happiness. The world changed a lot during Sparky's lifetime too - - four different presidents of this country, the Oklahoma City bombings, the new millenium, even 9/11.
Through everything, Sparky was there for me. He always guaranteed a laugh when, as a younger cat, he would get stuck on the carpeting by attempting to walk on it while his claws were out. Or when preparing to jump, he would bob up and down, taking a few test pre-jumps. I could always count on him to be waiting by the door for me when I came in, his "motor" running (what we always called his purring because it could get pretty loud and it was very consistent). When I lost Mathis, I had Dylan and Sparky to comfort me. When I lost Dylan, Sparky was there to help assuage my grief. When I was missing my deployed husband, I knew Sparky would be there to sleep beside me. What a gift this selfless, unconditionally loving little creature has been.
So when it looked like Sparky's life here was coming to an end on Saturday, I had to remind myself that after over 16 years of utterly selfless, unconditional love I had received from him, it was my turn to be selfless and let him go. Other pet parents - - and by pet parents I mean not just people who are pet owners but people who love their pets like children - - will understand how painful and gut wrenching it is to make the decision to let their pets go Home. We want them with us - - no matter how much time we have with them, it's really never enough.
Throughout the years, many friends and acquaintances told me that Sparky was a lucky cat indeed to have me as his mommy. I was lucky too. Not just because I had him as long as I did, but because I was blessed to have this incredible little being in my life and I will be forever grateful for that.
So happy birthday, Sparky. Thank you for the years of joy and love you gave me. I will always remember those affectionate head bumps. You were a very loved boy, you still are and always will be.