There Will Never Be Another You

 
Though I am not a religious person, I am a bit of a fatalist, which causes me to believe that there is purpose behind seemingly inexplicable things which will be revealed to me at the right time.
 
For instance, I have occasionally wondered why I launched this blog.
 
And now I know: I’ve spent four years building this blog to be a platform for celebrating the greatness of the life and death of my beloved cat, Harper. She deserves to be celebrated and mourned by the whole world, but because she never left the house, she didn’t meet many people. And thus, it falls to me to spread the word.
 
When I was a junior associate at my firm, a friend’s cat had kittens and he offered me the pick of the litter. Though I was working very hard and trying to maintain an active social life, I’d wanted a cat since I was child and could not decline, even though I had misgivings about taking on this responsibility. Harper came to live with me in September 2001. We moved twice and added a number of creatures to the household over the years: Posy (2004), The Photographer (2010) and his beloved cat Elvis (who died at age 18 in 2012), and then Mr. Orange (2017).
 
Harper was diagnosed with diabetes in 2009 and the disease was successfully managed with insulin shots, a special diet, and regular blood testing for 9 years with minimal impact on her kidneys. Unfortunately, her kidney function began to decline last fall; the decline was steady and seemed to accelerate in late February, when it became apparent that not only was she never going to get better, but that she was moving into a disease state in which she would be increasingly uncomfortable. We made arrangements to have a veterinarian come to our house to euthanize her in March. Had she lived until June, she would have been 17.
 
I could write 10,000 words about how much I loved her and it wouldn’t be enough. So, I’ll try a Top Ten List.

 
 
1. Every weekday she would move to the foyer c. 6:30 p.m. to wait for me to come home, even though I usually walked through the door at 7:30. She liked to greet me at the door.
 
2. She slept curled up next to me most nights.
Harper, getting ready to sit in the front hall
Harper, giving me the stiff arm

 
Formerly naughty cat
 
Harper, snuggled up for the night
3. She was very naughty as a kitten (and occasionally aggressive) and slowly mellowed into the sweetest creature. I really believe that she was at her best between the ages of 9 and 17. I strongly encourage anyone thinking about adopting a cat to pick a middle-aged or even old one.

4. She was an exceptionally beautiful cat, but had the most ungainly gait; she walked like two men wearing a horse costume.
 
Harper, alarmed
Harper, resigned

Harper, indulging me
Harper, contemplative
 
5. She loved plumbers, electricians, and appliance repairmen. Anyone with a toolbox.
 
6. She never woke me to be fed.

 
7. She went through a period where she would sit in the front hall late at night and lament over a piece of string that The Photographer would use to play with her. I honestly think that she was trying to bring it to life. So Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Harper, resigned again
Harper, assessing

Dignity, always dignity
Harper, working
 
8. She received, with passive resignation, all of my anthropomorphic projections: Harper the Just; Harper the Wise; Harper the Benevolent.

 
9. She loved me exactly as I am.
 
10. She made me a better person. Truly.
Harper the Teacher

Harper, watching a video of a panda

Harper, remembering that she left oven on
 
Harper, snuggly at bedtime

One final thing: She damaged almost every piece of furniture in the house but I would give anything to have her back and re-play the whole thing from Day 1.
 
Blogging together

Forever in my heart
Shred, Harper, shred

29 thoughts on “There Will Never Be Another You

  1. This is an outstanding tribute to an outstanding creature. She was lucky to have you, and vice versa. May she rest in peace.

  2. Oh Directrice, I don’t even know you, and didn’t know Harper, but I teared up reading this. There is nothing like the companionship of a good cat; it is such a tangible affection. My condolences.

  3. I’m so sorry. As a fellow cat owner, the fact that she never woke you up to be fed truly deserves to be commemorated!

  4. This made me cry. I’ve been owned by multiple cats since I was a little child; each one of them was special, with their own unique personality, and yet I truly loved (and felt loved by) all of them. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  5. This is lovely. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ll hug my Luna hard today (even though she’ll try mightily to escape)!

  6. Thank you for sharing your photos and experiences with Harper. She was a beauty, which I know because you showed her to us many times. I enjoyed your appreciation of her and am very sorry for your loss.

  7. I met Harper in 2009 when I came into The Directrice’s life as her largest companion animal. Harp was completely devoted to The Directrice. She would sit on the bed and look adoringly at Tory — the love on her little face was completely obvious. She completely trusted Tory, too. Tory would test her blood sugar levels every week or so by pricking her ear, and Harper always lay quietly on her side for that and never complained. Had I tried to do it there would have been blood, but it would have been mine and not Harper’s. Her trust in Tory surely accounts for why she lived so long and so well with diabetes, because having that data let us adjust her dose with some precision. Harp reserved her devotion for Tory; I have a theory she thought I was the household help and spent nine years wondering when I would leave. But I took good care of Harper, giving her insulin shots twice a day and fairly apportioning the playtime between her and Posy. I guess she developed a soft spot for me too: when I held my hand out to her she would look at me stonily, then after a few seconds her face would soften and she would bump over to be petted. She would also come visit me in my office once or twice a day, sitting patiently next to my chair until I noticed her and got down to brush her (which I always did.) Harp had some early challenges in life; as a kitten she lost the tip of her tail, which might account for her impassiveness (the tip of the tail is very important to cats for expressing emotions.) I don’t think there is a kitty heaven, or a heaven at all for that matter, but if I’m wrong I hope she’s there and that she gets that piece of her tail back. RIP, Harper. You were a fine cat, a Noble Beast, and you will be missed.

  8. Oh, I’m so sorry. I recently lost a beloved dog and I share you sadness at the loss of a beloved friend. RIP dear dear Harper.

  9. I am sorry to hear this. I lost my companion who loved me the way that Harper loved you (also at 17 years), two years ago. I still miss her and wish she was here. I know that you miss Harper in the same way and that all of us will miss her “photographic commentary on this blog.

  10. I will think of you often, knowing your grief. Our hearts are heavy for you but do remember the lovely home and family she had. She loved you back.

  11. What a beautiful tribute. So sorry for your loss, and glad we were able to share in Harper’s delightful expressions along with you.

  12. Two lovely tributes. I like the title, too. I always think of the song, “The Nearness of You” when I think of my Rosie cat, who died 5 or so years ago. She could be on the other side of the bed, and if I just looked at her, she’d start this rich, resonant purring. All it took was being near.

  13. What a very beautiful and lovely
    puss cat was Miss Harper. It’s really incredible the love that animals can bring out in us, and their capacities to show us what must be love. They are such a joy. Your stories about your lives with Harper are very moving. I am sad to have read of your loss.

  14. You have made me weep.
    For for you, for Harper, and for darling Clemmie, whom I lost this past October to an insidious form of heart disease at only 13. It’s a hard truth that we inevitably outlive our beloved companions. Clem left a little cat-sized hole in my heart when she went, and I reckon you’ve got a Harper-shaped one in yours. I’m so very sorry. As you say, oh to do it all again from the very first moment. What I wouldn’t give to be able to do that. A beautiful tribute to your beautiful, funny, wise and benevolent Harper.

  15. Cats are the best. I’ve sent Tommy (18 years old, when I was 18), Rachel (14, when I was 34), and, most recently, Ignatius (10, the most vicious barn cat ever, who decided he liked our family and fought valiantly every animal who dared cross our lawn). One need not believe in higher powers to find solace in the children’s book “Cat Heaven”; I cried as I had to read it nightly to my four year old.

  16. I have a very un-mellow 6 year old cat – we definitely don’t own her, she doesn’t own us, but we are options for her, is what we say – but she sleeps with me and meows terribly when I come back from a trip. Maybe she will mellow into a fabulous middle-aged cat who doesn’t meow to wake us for food. Loved your story and sorry for your loss!

  17. I’m so sorry to hear this sad news. Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories of the beautiful, magnificent Harper.

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