Today Geoff and I helped Bucky leave this world and move on to the next. He was 18 years old, and I will miss him every day.
Bucky was born on April 15, 1998. He was born before I graduated from college, in the last century, the last millennium, before Barack Obama became President, before I had my first cell phone, before I had even met Geoff, let alone married him. He was my first child, and he will always be special.
Bucky moved with me through seven different apartments in two cities, he outlived his younger brother Smoky, he tolerated two foster dachshund sisters, an untold amount of visiting dogs of varying breeds (Scarlett, Ivory, Fletcher, Pixie, Jasmine, the list goes on), living with a roommate who had a dog and a cat of her own*, and surviving a 1 1/2 story fall down an uncovered shaft and being pinned inside a wall in the middle of the night**.
Bucky was nearly imperturbable. He was loving and sweet with humans, but he suffered no crap from other animals. When I brought Smoky home from the shelter, at Bucky’s request mind you, and Smoky turned into an unholy terror, Bucky rolled his eyes and we hid in my loft bed and watched the destruction in amicable silence. When Bucky met Rerun he quickly established dominance with a sequence of three closed paw blows to Rerun’s snout that were over nearly before they’d begun. Rerun never forgot that encounter.
Bucky was also an athlete like no other cat I’ve met. In his prime he could jump from a sitting position to over six feet straight up into the air and land on a narrow (maybe 1 inch?) window frame. That moved. Then he’d make another flying leap up onto the next story of our interior courtyard and simply hop windowsill to windowsill and visit the upstairs neighbors. Some of them would leave the windows open so he could come inside and visit. As he was a stellar mouser and the building was, well, infested with mice, his presence was always welcome.
About a year and a half ago we had noticed that Bucky was starting to lose weight. I fully expected his blood work to come back saying that his kidneys were going. But they weren’t, turns out something was up in his digestive track. Eventually there was a tiny hardening in the area. We kept him on meds for a while, but finally he let us know on no uncertain terms that he just didn’t like the taste. So we switched to prednisolone. He was on it for the better part of 9 months. He was doing fine. The palpable thing in his belly, as of the first week of May, was small, smaller than a dime. He spent Brimfield at the vet’s and came back happy and shiny.
Then this week he pretty much stopped eating. And tonight he wouldn’t come when we called for dinner. We went looking for him and found him hiding where Smoky used to hide when he was scared or didn’t want to be pilled. As I’d barely been able to pill him this morning, we knew it was time. The vet graciously stayed open late for us, and we said our goodbyes. I know that he’s with Smoky and Rerun and all of the other furry kids that Geoff and I have had come in and out of our lives so far and I know I’ll see him again. I am at peace with the decision to let him go and I think that the timing was just right. But I will miss him. O Lord, will I miss him.
Bucky came to me from the MSPCA. He was a Phinney’s Friends cat. Phinney’s Friends was, at the time, a program at the MSPCA designed to help people with HIV/AIDS keep their pets while dealing with their disease. Bucky’s human had died and so he was up for adoption. I adopted him in 1999 and he was with me for the rest of his life.
Phinney’s Friends is now a standalone non-profit and it is entirely volunteer run. If you are so inclined, I encourage you to make a donation there in Bucky’s memory or in the memory of a person or animal you love. Without them he never would have come into my life and I would have been all the poorer for it. Also, Phinney’s Friends now has an expanded mission that, especially with the way the economy has been, is more important than ever.
Now cracks a noble heart.—Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
* Bucky got his nickname “Bruiser” while living with that roommate. He got in a spat with her cat over some of her cat’s wet food and bit her cat’s tail. The end of that cat’s tail later fell off. In her owner’s bed. Whoops.
** This is a super long story but I will tell you sometime if you want to hear it. Just not now.