From the Archives: Happy Birthday, Lucy!
Today, as far as I can tell, was the birthday of Lucy, a little black kitten who came into my life in 2006 and changed so much with her life, and her loss. These photos were taken just days before her first birthday, in March 2007, when she was playing her favorite game of making the bed.
Lucy, as you might know, was another of Mimi’s kittens, from a litter of the previous year. I took the kittens in to foster and rehome in mid-June 2006 and quickly found homes for brothers Angus and Donal, who we hear from on a regular basis, and the rare kitten of Mimi’s who was not solid black—Charlotte, who was a calico, and from whose family I’ve received photos through the years.
No one was interested in Lucy and she ended up staying with me. I was honestly in no mind for a kitten, but while I lost the last of my oldest cats, those who were my first rescues, Lucy became a part of my life, escaping from her “kitten area” upstairs with the help of Sophie who wanted Lucy’s food and wandering the house though I’d never let kittens as young as her out without supervision. I lost Stanley in January 2007 at about age 25, and turned to the kitten who I welcomed with my whole heart, already a part of my home. I had gone from nine senior cats to four senior cats—Peaches, Cookie, Kelly and Namir—in one year, and little Lucy, a foster who became a permanent resident.
I had Lucy spayed on her first birthday—it wasn’t planned this way, just coincidence, and I was so focused on my geriatric cats I forgot the application to the low-cost spay/neuter program until January. But it was just after her spay that I began to notice odd symptoms, and knew intuitively she wasn’t well. And she wasn’t. Just two weeks after her spay she was diagnosed with effusive FIP, had 200cc of fluids drained from her chest. Despite all the traditional, alternative, naturopathic, homeopathic, spiritual and otherwise recommended therapies for her condition we only had three months after her diagnosis.
Of course, as the story goes, I saw Mimi in my garden and Lucy told me to rescue her, and the rest is history. Looking at the current members of my household, what would it look like today if the story had taken a different turn? If Lucy had lived, there is a chance I might never have met any of the cats I live with now, and who would be here in their stead? Surely I expected Lucy to live a long and healthy life with me, but what if I had spayed her at four or five months instead of forgetting the application and waiting so long? Perhaps she was not adopted because she knew I would understand her illness when it came, that she would have a year with the elders of the clan though she would never be an elder herself, that when she left she knew I would rescue her mother and a litter of kittens. But perhaps it was all by chance. We can never know these things, nor choose them, only make the choices we do.
I’m so glad for one choice I did consciously make, with Sophie’s help, of course—that when Lucy kept escaping from her kitten area, I decided to just let her do whatever she pleased. None of the nightmare kitten scenarios I had constantly visualized came to be. She was a very good kitten, she cleaned all the cobwebs from everywhere kittens hadn’t been in ages, she got to know all the other cats very well and possibly lived a lifetime in that year. And in the time she spent at the basement door, she probably managed to talk with her mom, who regularly visited the patio just outside, which is where I saw her the day I had Lucy put to sleep.
I designed an animal sympathy card from the very first photo in this post today, and the words are heartfelt: “Remember the best moments with love and joy.” Lucy and I didn’t have as many moments as I had hoped, but they were the best.
Happy Birthday as well to Angus and Donal, and to Charlotte, and a happy mom’s day to Mimi, who has spent a good bit of the day chasing Giuseppe and pulling his tail. Her part of the job was well done.
Lucy’s short life inspired a story which I’ve written and began to illustrate three years ago, and then realized I needed to practice a little more! But you can read about the idea and see a few of the initial illustrations I painted for it in Meet Lucy, with links to the other posts. I think I also needed a little more distance to continue working on her story, and I hope to finish it soon.
Browse some rescued cats and kittens!
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21 thoughts on “From the Archives: Happy Birthday, Lucy!”
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That will be a wonderful story, Bernadette. Lucy was very beautiful — there was/is a light about her.
Tammy, I think the universe knew her time was brief so her light burned a little brighter than the rest.
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deer mom ta lucy; we taked Lucy out ta Boe Boe’s fish N fry yesterday; our treet, and while munchin on ham samiches, friez, cake N sghetti…lucy meowed about how cool her mom bernadette wuz, iz N all wayz will bee….N how much her loved, loves N all ways will love ewe…then we raised R mugs ta her and ewe but we iz knot a loud ta say what we wuz drinkin
dude k and sauce of fishbone
Thanks so much for hosting Lucy–I’m sure she was there to meet you two! We know she watches over all of us perfect black kitties who are related, and even some who aren’t, and her Mama Mimi is glad to know she has friends in high places. I may have to do an illustration some day of this famous meeting!
How nice to learn more about Lucy. She was beautiful. I’m so sorry you only had so little time with her.
Ingrid, it was hard to believe she was gone so soon. In all my years of rescue I never lost a kitten and this was hard to believe, and I still wonder what my household would be like now.
She was a beautiful kitty and yes, her heart shaped head is purrfect!
Carolyn, she will always be a kitten for me with that wonderful heart-shaped face.
What a beautiful memory of Lucy, I am so sorry for the loss of her, she was a true beauty.
Thank you, Kim, and I see her in all the black cats I live with today.
oh, that is so lovely. when i first saw the picture in the bed, i thought she was perfectly heart shaped. and what a heart-filled story you gave us. Thanks so much for sharing it.
Sparky, there is no better photo of Lucy’s face, one of the most heart-shaped cat faces I have ever seen, and that includes her mother. Thanks for reading.
You are right, Bernadette, that “making the bed” is a marvelous game. It is also one of the best euphemisms ever invented by cat parents!
That’s for sure, Meg!