The reminder popped up yesterday that today, which was Mother’s Day in 2009, Mikha died. It was Raven’s first Mother’s Day at home and we had gone to have brunch with my mom that morning. I think now how strange it must have been for Raven, to be there with my mom and I. At this point, he was 9 and had just come to live with me the month before. I know that he must have wondered where his birth mom was.
We went home afterwards and there was Mikha in my room, unconscious and having a nonstop seizure. Straight to the vet with him holding her crate like it would explode and me driving as fast as possible without endangering anyone to get to the West Seattle Animal Hospital. Mikha had been through some surgery the week before and pronounced healthy and definitely ready to go a few years more. She was 18 at the time. The vet on duty took her back and they did xrays to find the cause. And they tried to stop the seizure with an elephant dose of Valium. In the meantime, Raven and I sat in the waiting room, singing songs from the Canoe Journey that we had been learning at the Duwamish Longhouse.
When the vet came out, she told us that Mikha was calm now and the best thing to do would be to put her to sleep since the x-rays showed that she had cancer in multiple places. I called my mom to tell her and ask her if she wanted us to wait. She said “No” and then it was time. Sitting on the floor in the exam room, I held my terribly angry and dysfunctional dragon in a feline form in my arms, with my new kid next to me and held her while the vet gave her the shot.
Mikha had been with me half my life by that point, precisely. I adopted her from the pound in New Jersey and kept her in my dorm room until I was expelled. She was an intimidating force from the first day we met. I picked her up at the pound and she tried to bite my fingers off and not in a playful kitten way. The guy at the pound told me that she was a mess and I was better off leaving her behind, unadoptable he said. So, of course, I took her home.
And for the next 18 years, she was my grrl. We moved several times and she definitely got the short end of the stick when it came to attention sometimes. If I think about those moments, it doesn’t make me feel like a good pet parent. But she had a good friend in my mom, who she would tolerate in my absence. She ruled Lientje and yet my favorite picture of them shows them sitting back to back high up in the window at the little house.
Mikha was tough. She would sit on the front porch and neighborhood cats would cross the street to go past our house, instead of crossing directly in front of and in reach of her. She had tufted ears and a stocky frame. I have a thing for tabby cats. Lientje is one as well.
Mikha is buried in the backyard in Seattle. Next to her grave is the Japanese maple tree my mom planted. When I was there in March, I took the little cat statue from her grave and brought it back with me. Now it sits next to the urn of Moortje’s ashes.
I had to the privilege of serving as Mikha’s personnel for 18 years. I don’t know what’s out there when we are not here anymore but I like to think that she’s with my Mom and Raven… causing her own share of trouble.