Ashes by Mary Steinmetz / Mommy

My precious angel, Ashes, came to me about 10 years ago – Christmastime. It was snowing and pretty deep. I came home from work to find a beautiful, chubby kitty waiting. I told my husband and he came out with food, water and built a shelter under the steps of our condo. She seemed content and happy. We thought she probably got lost in the snow. We had 3 other animals and just couldn’t fathom another one. In the morning, she was gone and so was the food. It had stopped snowing and was warming up a bit. Good for her,
maybe she went home.

That night as I walked toward my home I spotted her again, waiting for me. I told my husband who came out with food and water but the shelter had been knocked down so he built another one. The next morning she was gone and so was the food and a neighbor met us outside saying, “I’d like to kill that cat! I hate cats!”. I was horrified and stayed home from work to see if she would come by again. I just didn’t see any sign of her. I went outside to look around and then I heard her! She had been hiding under my car – probably from my neighbor who later told me he had knocked down her shelter. She came running to me and me to her – no fear of humans – how unusual. Someone must be missing her but somehow we needed each other. I brought her to the vet and had her checked out. She was OK. A good grooming and I was going to keep her. She made herself at home with my other two cats and a ferrett. She didn’t leave my side though. She slept wrapped around my head at night. She snored louder than my husband but we adjusted to that.
We adjust to lots of things.

She was my best friend through the years and then I fell ill last year and ended up in the hospital for 2 weeks. My husband said Ashes was beside herself. One day after visiting me he called to say maybe I should talk with her. She liked the sound of my voice. She heard me and started talking. Where was I? Was I OK? When was I coming home? Two long weeks and exhausted I was released from the hospital.
When I got home -she met me at the door.

From that day on she didn’t leave me for anything. I would get up at night and she went with me and followed me back to bed. Sometimes several times during the night and up she got and followed me back to bed. Sometimes I cried in pain and she would put her little paw on my face or eye as if to say, “It’s OK. I’m here with you. You’ll be OK.”

If I was having trouble sleeping during the night, she would lean her face toward mine to check my breathing and wait for me to settle down before she would rest. The best darn nurse I ever had. As I recovered, she still followed me around and would talk to me if I was doing to much. I got it! “Sit down and rest” she would say. I would sit and she would settle down again. She watched me like a hawk. Actually, she watched me like any concerned mother for her child.

In early spring, I noticed something not right with her – couldn’t pinpoint it but I knew something was up. I took her to the vet and after testing, to my disbelieve, she had developed renal problems. We were going to fight this battle and win. I was determined to help her like she helped me through. We had good days and bad days but we stuck it out together. And, she still slept wrapped around my head at night. Things took a bad turn in the summer months and more testing showed she was in renal failure. I couldn’t believe my little girl was going to leave me. I was distraught but I was going to be by her side – just like she was for me. And, she still slept wrapped around my head at night
but a little more restless.

I stroked her face and her eyes and talked with her often. She was becoming listless and off to the vets we went – I just wanted to save her and care for her like she did for me. 4 days in the hospital was more than I could stand. On the day of her release, my vet said the end was near she had about a month – but it could be a good month if I loved her like I always did and let her do whatever she felt like doing and eat whatever she could stomach.

When he brought her out and she saw me, she just about lept out of his arms into mine and we sat together for a long time and I cried and she talked and I stroked that beautiful head of hers and her face. She even looked stronger! I prayed for a miracle!

Her last month was a good month but I could sense from her after a couple of weeks that she was failing. I stayed by her side and stroked her head and kissed her little face often. And, she still slept wrapped around my head at night.

Then one night when I got up, she didn’t follow and I knew this was to be her last night. I came back to bed and she sat there waiting for me. I didn’t leave her side and talked with her and stroked her face and eyes letting her know she was loved and appreciated but she could go and everything would be OK. “Don’t be afraid” I said over and over again. “Mommy loves you and it’s OK.” I loved her like a daughter – my baby was sick and all I could do was be with her and wrap myself around her head and body and
stroke her head and love her.

She slipped into a deep sleep early in the morning and then drifted off peacefully. She knew I was there, wrapped around her face and body and she was safe. I never left her side just like she never left me when I was sick. I stayed wrapped around her little body and cried but somehow I could feel her little paw on my face and on my eye saying it would be OK. She would now be with me forever and I see her in my dreams watching over me and feel warmth around my head – I still think she is asleep wrapped around my head at night.


To My Little Girl and Sweet Angel,
Mary Steinmetz