On June 23, 2009, Molly gave birth to four kittens. They were tiny and always seemed sickly. Sometime Thursday, the last one of them died. Anne was the only one to make it to 10 years old.
A couple of weeks after their birth, one of the kittens died without an explanation, but three of them lived to become Charlotte, Emily and Anne. They loved to sleep on books, so they were named for the writing Brontë sisters.
In 2015, Emily became the first of the sisters to die, with no explanation. In 2016, Charlotte died, too, again with no warning or explanation. Their remaining sister, Anne, died while I was gone to work today. She seemed perfectly fine this morning, but she was cold and still when I arrived home.
There seems to have been something tragic in the genes of that family, because their Aunt Bessie — named for my own Great Aunt Bessie — died without explanation or warning last year.
When the four kittens were born, I tried to find homes for them, but there were no takers. Before long, I had become too attached to give them up even if someone had wanted to adopt one of them.
Emily was the social one of the family. Charlotte and Anne never wanted to be picked up or touched — much like their formerly feral mother — but Emily wanted touch. She slept on me every night of her short life and she constantly wanted my attention.
When Molly’s sister, Bessie, died last year, I took comfort from the fact that she still had her one remaining daughter. They have continued to spend a lot of time together. I know they don’t have a rational understanding of their relationship the way you might have with your daughter or son, but I think there’s a biological attachment that remains intact. You can see a typical recent picture of them together below.
The only bad thing about living with furry friends and getting attached to them is the almost certainty of outliving them. When you accept them into your life, you know that each one will leave you at some point — and that he or she will take a special little piece of your heart when that happens.
Most of my cats and dogs have lived much longer lives than these little sisters and their lovely Aunt Bessie, but I’ve gone through a lot of grief from watching them die over the years. Even knowing the hurt their loss causes, though, I still believe the attachment and effort are all worth it for the love and connection which come in return.
For the last year or so, it’s Dagny who I’ve been concerned about. She’s 15 and she has been seeming frail, so I feared I would lose her next. I never dreamed that I was about to lose Anne, because she was the youngest remaining member of their group.
I’ll miss you, tiny Anne. I think your mother Molly will miss you, too. Thank you for giving us 10 years of joy in your short life. It wasn’t long enough.
Addendum: One of the most interesting parts of being human is how we reinterpret events to see narratives of one sort or another after we become aware of something hidden. Following Anne’s death today, I’ve found myself thinking about a couple of things she did in the last few days — things which made me happy, but which I now see in different ways.
Once this past weekend and then again on Wednesday, Anne let me pick her up and rub her head and back. She has occasionally tolerated that in the past, but she’s never seemed to enjoy it. Especially on Wednesday — when I found her lying on my bed and I picked her up — she seemed to relax into the attention and enjoy it. I’ll never know why, of course, but a part of me wonders if some part of her needed comforting as she experienced her final days of life.
Whether it was coincidence or some need on her part, I will always appreciate that she allowed me that time with her at the end which had been so difficult for her to allow for the 10 years of her life.