June 28, 2010

In Memory of Sparky

Sparky 1993-2010

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. 


Anonymous said...

It's so hard to say goodbye to a beloved friend. My sympathy, Lori.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Lori, that is a wonderful tribute! I'm sorry Sparky is no longer with you and understand it's a tough decision to make. I hated making it for Calvin & Hobbes.
I wish our furry friends lived as long as we do.

Book Soulmates said...

I'm so sorry for your loss!! I'm a pet mommy too and I know exactly how it feels to have such unconditional love & devotion for your pet. I think it takes a special kind of person to understand that pets aren't just animals, but they're friends and companions!

I have three doggies and as much as I love them all, I'm especially attached to my boy Toby. I really believe that he chose me the day that I set foot into the breeders home. I really don't know what I would do without him!

You and Sparky were fortunate to have each other :) I like to believe that he (like all our beloved pets) go someplace where they can watch and wait for us.


fredamans said...

That was a crappy day for me too. I won't get into details, but a bad day all around.

Sending condolences and (((BIG HUGS)))

Tales of Whimsy said...

Oh sweetheart! I'm so sorry for your loss! *hugs* It sounds like you both really loved each other *hugs*

Ingrid King said...

What a wonderful tribute to Sparky - I'm crying as I'm writing this. You are so right, it's never long enough.
I loved hearing how Sparky choose you - now that was one determined little kitten. You must feel like you lost a part of yourself when you lost him. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

Lori Johnston said...

Thank you, everyone, for your kind and warm thoughts about Sparky. It's a wonderful feeling to know that there are other pet parents out there that understand how painful losing a pet is.

Each day does get a bit easier and the pain in still worth all the love and joy you get from them in life.

I was able to pick up Sparky's ashes yesterday and so he's back at home with us, and with his brothers.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Awwm I'm so sorry. Pets are special little creatures. Take care.

Dylan said...

I'm so sorry that you had to let your beloved boy go. I am in tears reading this. I know exactly what it's like, having had to say goodbye to a number of beloved fur babies over the years. My thoughts are with you. We should all be so lucky as to share our lives with such a pet. My beloved is 10 this year and I love her more than most humans I know. I'm so glad that you got to have a pet like Sparky, and I'm sure Sparky felt lucky to be adopted by you.

Charlotte Castle said...

I SWEAR this isn't a plug for my book as sadly you don't accept PDF's and my publishers are refusing to send anymore hard copies out to the States but my novel is about grief. People often think that it has actually happened to me - the truth is, the only person I've ever lost (whom I cared about) was my cat. Every aspect of the protaganist's experience comes from the loss of that bad old puddy tat.

I still miss you Bacardi. x