Last weekend we said goodbye to Europa. He was the Head Cat in our household. He had turned 16 earlier this year; Greg has had him since he was a kitten.
When I first met him, 10 years go, he was grumpy, set in his ways, had plenty of cat-titude, and didn’t really like anyone other than Greg, and his sister, Ganymede.
He was definitely not happy to be moving into a house with three dogs, and he was none too pleased with me, as well. I was the interloper. I was a bad influence on his Dad, because it was my fault his world up ended.
He told me about it, frequently and rather loudly.
Slowly though, over the years, Europa began to enjoy his new digs. I can’t say he ever got to the point where he liked any of the dogs, but he put up with them, and stood his ground when one of them got too pushy. He like being able to go outside. He loved the laying in the shade in the back porch, and would, on extreme occasions, do a lap or two around the perimeter of the house. Then he’d climb up the steps and fall asleep. Sometimes he’d sleep under the porch, but he always stayed close by.
He had a quirky sense of humor that he shared with Greg. He had great comedic timing. Greg used to have his friends over for game night once a week. Europa was always right there, protecting his Daddy from these hooligans that had some how gain entrance to the house. Since Europa was so serious, the guys would tease him a bit. It was all in gentle fun, but Europa thought they were devil’s incarnate, and never warmed up to them. One night, after having had enough of the guys picking on his none too graceful slip of the couch, Europa straightened up to his most intimidating height, glared disapprovingly, and looked at each one, square in the eye, and in turn, as if to say,” You are on my list, and you are on my list, and you are on my list, and I’m not forgetting you, either.”
Greg remembers the day when Europa learned to spit. He was a couple of months old at the time. One day Europa ran up to him and made this sneezing sound, and then ran into the other room. It took a few rounds of his running up and sneezing, then running off again for Greg realized what the cat was doing. Europa was so proud of his new talent (his super power, as Greg calls it), that he strutted around for quite awhile.
I know this blog is about living joyfully through life. As heartbreaking as the last few days have been, I would never have traded the chance to share some space with Europa. He was an old soul. He taught me a lot about life as he saw it. Really, though, Europa was an old softy. Once he discovered that I knew his secret, he let me give him kisses and scratch the spot between his shoulders … as long as no-one else was watching.
Part of living joyfully means you take risks and love others. There will always be an ending at some point in time. Maybe you love someone who can’t love you back. Maybe you love someone who leaves you behind. Maybe you leave them. It is sad and gut wrenching. But the pain and sorrow has always been less impactful in the long run to me than the amount of joy that loving gives me. Greg and I have opened our home to quite a few animals at varying times. Some have been kittens and puppies, but the majority have been rescues. Some, because of their age have only stayed a short while. All have been singularly special, and all have left indelible marks in our hearts. All have brought us joy, and taught us a little more about what it means to live in the now.
Our lives are some much fuller though, when we open our hearts and let ourselves love. Even if it isn’t perfect, a part of that loved one stays with you. The memories you have, stay and they never really leave you.
Rest in peace, Europa.