I’ve known for months that I was slowly losing Dagny, but that doesn’t make her death any easier.
I had a bad feeling about her when I left for work today. When I went to check on her first thing this morning, she lifted her head and looked at me, but then she settled back into the same box where she had been sleeping with Merlin late last night — with her paw wrapped around her bigger brother. (See the photo below.) She showed no interest in getting up and moving to my bed, which is what we did every other morning.
I got home as soon as I could Wednesday evening and I felt a lump in my throat as I got out of the car, because I feared the worst. Moments later, I found her cold and still — seemingly relaxed in the same position, in the same box, where I left her earlier in the day.
She was a small cat, but she’s left a large hole in this family.
When I found her under a garbage dumpster 15 years ago, she was a feisty and tiny little ball of black fur. There was no fear in her. She wasn’t scared of me. She wasn’t scared of the other cats or dogs once I got her home.
She didn’t seem to fear anything.
She was a 7-lb. cat who acted like a mini panther — and she had the heart of a lion.
It was her combination of confidence and sleek elegance that caused me to name her for Dagny Taggart, the railroad-operating heiress of “Atlas Shrugged.” Something about her — even as a kitten — reminded me of Taggart’s character as she fought against the whole world to keep her railroad alive.
When she was very young, she was something of a loner, but after a couple of years, she and another cat I had — another confident loner who had been named for William the Conqueror — became close.
After William died four and a half years ago, she mourned for weeks. I still have audio posted on Soundcloud of how hurt she sounded as she walked around the house looking for him over and over. She was in pain about having lost her close friend.
Dagny was the only one of my remaining cats who liked to sit in my lap and get attention. If I sat at my desk and tried to work, she wanted to get into my lap. If I laid down on the bed, she climbed on top of me. She wanted to be close.
She still felt well enough this past Saturday to climb onto me and ask for attention. The video quality is terrible, but here’s a clip I posted on Facebook — the last of the countless times over the last 15 years when she asked for (and received) plenty of attention.
It’s been a bad week for the black cats of my family. Anne’s unexpected death last week set a somber tone, but Dagny’s death punctuates the week with a terrible finality. It’s hard to believe we’re down to just one dog and three cats.
But at least Dagny got to live a long and full life.
Maybe she would have had a good life even if I hadn’t heard her fierce little meow from under the dumpster as an ex-girlfriend and I walked that night in Trussville 15 years ago. Maybe someone else would have found her and given her a good home.
I’ll never know. I’m just thankful that I found her. I’m thankful that she became part of my furry family. I’m thankful that she was safe and healthy and happy for 15 years.
I’m thankful that I was able to give her love for that long, but I’m even more grateful for the love she happily gave back to me.