I am not talking about your run of the mill Murphy’s Law. No. No. No. I am  talking about Murphy. Here she is…

If you’ve been to my house within the last 14 years you will have seen glimpses of her – and when I say glimpses, I mean glimpses. Murphy is shy and does not particularly like to be touched – let alone picked up. When guests come over she hides…eventually she comes out, but mostly, she hides. If you are lucky, she will have rubbed her head on your feet. Hopefully you didn’t take that to be an invitation to pet her.

I got Murphy from the SPCA 14 years ago. And when I say “I got her” I mean “my ex-husband got her”. I didn’t want her – didn’t want a cat. But I got home after work one day and there she was. 7 weeks old, tiny, shaking because she was scared, and cute as a button. I still didn’t want her. The next day my ex calls me at work to say he’s home and Murphy’s eye is huge and infected. He took her to the vet who said he needed to sedate her and take a closer look. If surgery was required it would cost $400 or more. My reaction to that was “if it requires surgery, tell him to put her down, I’m not paying that much on a cat I don’t want”. Nice huh? Luckily for all (especially me) Murphy didn’t need surgery. It was a simple infection and not uncommon in SPCA cats. Some eye drops and a little lamp shade was all she needed. When I got home that evening there she was, still groggy from being sedated, sporting her lamp shade. Remember, she was 7 weeks old, and still pretty tiny. One look at her half-sedated walk across the living room, her lamp shade getting caught in the carpet…and I was hooked.

14 years later, Murphy and I have been through a lot. She’s seen me through a divorce, the regular ups and downs of daily life, a couple of career moves, 3 1/2 years at the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, a very long distance relationship, a complete purge of everything post Vancouver 2010, a few moves, the 2011 Canucks run to the Stanley Cup finals, and countless other life moments – not the least of which are the many nights on the couch watching tv.

Have another look – this is Murphy…

Murphy 2

There she is, sitting on the bed. For 14 years she has slept beside me every night – it’s the only time she likes to cuddle. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s still on her terms. When she feels like it she’ll head butt my hand until she can lie down between my body and arm, with her head nestled in the palm of my hand. And if my arms are both beneath the covers….she swipes at me until I take an arm out for her.

At the time these photos were taken, Murphy was 14 years old – equivalent to about 98 in human years – and riddled with cancer. I know I am biased, but when I look at the photos I find it hard to believe. She looks too pretty and young to be 98 and ill. On March 26th I got the word – cancer. Devastating. I found myself numb, trying to take in all the information about what options were available. Chemo…really? Chemo for pets? Who knew. When I was told the best case scenario was likely a few more weeks-months, the decision was easy. Murphy was always clear about what she wanted and didn’t want. Even when perfectly healthy a trip to the vet was traumatic – I’d have to chase her around the house to catch her, and she’d be stressed and scared until we got back home and she could run out of her carrying case. No way was I going to do that to her once a week so she could go through chemo and feel sick from that on the off-chance that we might have a few more weeks/months together. I wasn’t going to put her through that. So keeping her as comfortable as possible became my goal.

On April 22nd at about 7pm, Murphy passed away. Luckily I was home with her at the time. Hopefully it wasn’t too painful for her. She died at the beginning of the 3rd period in game 5 of the Canucks/Kings playoff series – moments after the Kings scored to tie the game at 1. Poetic? Definitely. Prophetic? Possibly. I am currently on contract with the Canucks – and that contract is “until June 15, 2012 or the end of the playoffs, whichever occurs first”. I am still with them, but who knows for how long. The thought did occur that this was the universe at work – giving me a swift kick in the butt, telling me it’s time to move on. That it is time for new beginnings. Time will tell if this is indeed the case.

Meanwhile, I am astounded by the depth of sadness and how ’empty’ home feels without her here. For a small animal, her energy sure filled up a lot of space. And I still talk to her like she’s here. According to my friend Dene, you have to have a cat so you don’t look crazy talking to yourself. Hmmm, how crazy am I for talking to a dead cat like she’s still here? I’m sure it won’t last. It’s all still pretty new. I sometimes wonder if I’ve turned into “crazy cat lady”, but I don’t think so. My friend Emily had a good point. Her take on it was that with pets you only have positive, comfort feelings. So when you lose them, it’s all about losing that source of comfort. Thank you for that piece of wisdom Emily.

And that is Murphy. I like to think she both lived and died the way she wanted. No poking, prodding, needles. At home, where she felt safe, secure and knew she was loved. Murphy’s Law = unconditional, no excuses, love.

As I make my way through the sadness I am left with immense gratitude. Gratitude for 14 years with a pretty, and complicated, companion. Gratitude for my many friends who have been supportive and put up with my tears and relative craziness the past month – in particular Julie (don’t know many people who drop everything to run to a friend’s when they find out their pet is dying and again when the pet dies…), Carla, Ali, Dene, Emily, Keema, Michelle, Vicky, Laura, Amanda, Yvon, Dan, Helene, Marilyn, David, Erin, Tmo, Mike, Sherri (a huge help to me and Murphy) Dr. Haseltine who delivered the news to me and didn’t try to convince me to have Murphy put under, the Vancouver Emergency Pet Clinic for their compassion and care in having her cremated and returned to me,  and a slew of others.

Last, but certainly not least, I am grateful that Carl (my ex) brought Murphy home from the SPCA. Seems you knew better than I. Ummm…don’t let it get to your head…

Murphy 3

One of her favourite hiding places – in the box spring under the bed. I liked referring to it has her ‘hammock’. Look closely, she’s hiding in there.

Murphy 4

PS: don’t worry, her ashes will not live on my mantle forever. I’m not quite that crazy a cat lady. In fact, early this morning I went down to Kits Beach and spread her ashes in the ocean. Back in the hands of the universe she is – body and soul.