When I was in forth grade, I was put on homebound for the first time because my anxiety was so bad that I could not function in a school setting. I would have panic attacks wherever I went, and I was afraid of having them which made it worse and made them increase, and also made almost everyone at school think I was the weird kid that always freaked out for no reason.
So I was happy and sad about being put on homebound. I was happy because a lot of the things I worried about went away with being able to relax and not worry about what the kids at school thought, but I was kind of sad because I didn’t really have anyone to talk to or interact with during the besides my mom, my therapist. And a teacher that would come for about three hours a day to tutor me.
I think my Step-Dad picked up on this. One day, while my sisters were at school, he came in the house with something tucked under his arm. I asked him what it was, and he looked around, making sure the coast was clear. “If I show you now, you have to keep it quiet until I tell your mother,” he said in a hushed tone.
I loved sharing secrets with Bob, so I agreed.
He unfolded his arms and sitting against his chest, sleeping, was a little yellow and orange kitten. It was hard for me to contain my excitement as he handed the kitten over and I took hold of it, its soft baby fur tickling my face as I kissed him and cooed at him.
My mom was a little mad at him at first. He had joked a few times about getting me a cat, so she was kind of surprised that he actually did. Bob was allergic, severely allergic to cats. We already had one, Whiskers, when he moved in and he always had watery eyes and red skin because of it.
It was the last thing I expected him to do for me.
Bob always surprised me like that.
Anyway, my mom said I could keep the cat, whose name (already given to him by the owners) was Boo Boo, as long as I took care of it, fed it, potty trained it, and made sure Whiskers and him didn’t fight.
For the first time since I was put on homebound, I had a friend. I had something to look forward to each day besides endless doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, talking, always talking. Adults always asking me how I felt, how my parent’s divorce was affecting me (even though it happened years and years before), if I was having anxiety attacks and if so, when and where and how often.
For the first time in a long time, I could just sit quietly and not worry about anything. I could play with him, make sure he was warm, make sure he had food and water. We didn’t need to talk. I didn’t have to answer any of his questions besides maybe if there was more food or if I had time to play.
I got a call from my sister tonight. She told me that Boo died.
She walked into the bathroom, and he took his final breaths and died.
I was upset. I was so upset and I am still so upset that I do not know what to do with myself or any of these emotions that I’m feeling.
So I do what I know I can do: write about it.
Boo slept on one side of my bed for a good portion of his young life. He stole my most comfortable pillow and claimed it as his own. So I got the left side of the bed, him the right.
Boo was the type of cat that was always small. When he was a kitten, his head was so much bigger than the rest of his body that people thought there was something wrong with him. I would tell them that he just had a big brain that his body had to catch up to.
The first week I had him he ate a whole tray of brownies and I thought I had killed him. But he was fine. He played for a while, running up and down the house for hours until the sugar wore off, then went to sleep and wake up the next morning fine.
He won’t be waking up tomorrow.
And I’m really sad, as anyone is when a pet dies.
Boo was the type of cat that looked like he had wisdom behind his eyes. It sounds strange, but it’s true. Sometimes I would look at him and just think, God, cat. What do you know?
And he was there for me when I needed him. He was always a comfort. If I was upset, or having an attack, he could sense it and would be there. He
until I calmed myself. He was an anchor when I was drifting.
until I calmed myself. He was an anchor when I was drifting.
And I miss him already.
In the past years, I haven’t seen too much of Boo. I’ve moved so many times, I couldn’t take him with me for any of those journeys, and I wish I could have. Some of those times I really needed my anchor and didn’t have him.
When Bob died, he didn’t have a will, most of us didn’t get anything to remember him by. I had three things: A ceramic lighthouse that he liked, A rusty can opener, and Boo.
Boo was always, always the most important of the things Bob left me. It was like a part of him lived on with Boo. Like I would look at Boo sometimes and remember how Bob would joke about how small he was, or how he would pretend he was angry when he fell asleep in his work boots, causing him to have red itchy eyes for the rest of the day. I would remember his raspy laugh when I watched Boo sometimes. And it sounds dumb. It sounds so ridiculous, but the last living piece of my stepfather died today, and I think it deserves a moment of attention.
One time, I couldn’t find Boo. I looked everywhere and I was freaking out. A few hours later, I found him asleep behind the dryer, curled up on a metal coil. I thought I had lost him that day, and I remember the feeling of relief when I saw his tiny body and huge head sound asleep. I was so happy when I picked him up and he mewed and stared at me with his all knowing eyes like he was saying, relax. I’m right here.
Boo was an outside cat for a lot of his life. He liked going outside for days on end, coming back when he was done doing whatever he did. He brought in a dead rabbit one time. He came up to me with it, giving it to me as a present. And my mom chased him out of the house, screaming, “DON’T PANIC.”
When we moved for the second time, the cats went to live with my nana. I like to think that they were a comfort to her. She definitely liked having them around. Then Whiskers died, which deserves a post of itself, because he was also one of the pet loves of my life. Then my Pop-pop died, and Boo was there for her in the same way he was there for me.
One time I went over my nana’s house when I hadn’t been there in a while. Boo looked different, but he was only getting old. Cats shrink and get skinny when they get old. I knew this because of whiskers. But for some reason I could not wrap my mind around it. “he looks like Bob,” I said. I don’t know why I said it, but I think it was because by that point in my life, I had seen two living things waste away to nothing and die in front of my eyes, and I was afraid that it was happening again.
And when my Nana came to live with my mom and sister, so did Boo. And when my nana had to be put in a nursing home after being in the hospital and not coming home in between, we brought Boo to her window so she could see him and talk to him before she didn’t see him again.
Boo was the type of pet that loved you because you loved him. If you showed him attention, he’d warm up to you and be your best friend.
In the past year or so he got skinnier, older, but his personality never changed. He would steal food from your plate if you weren’t looking, meow at you if he wanted you to do something, then look at what you wanted him to do.
Fridge: feed me human food.
Cat bowl: why is this crap not human food?
Eddie: Why won’t he be quiet so I can nap?
He had a really good life. I know that’s a cliché and expected thing to hear when someone talks about a loved one passing away, but it’s true.
What’s also true is that I had a good life because of him. I know for a fact that if he didn’t come into my life when he did, and continue to be there when he was, I would not be who I am now. Not at all.
And he was there for others too. So if you have a memory of Boo, please feel free to share. I just posted whatever came to mind first. Besides spelling mistakes, I’m not editing this at all. I want to remember him the way my brain remembers him, and changing the words will change the memory of writing them down.
So anyway. Boo was…he was the best friend I ever had, and I hope that wherever he is now, he has a ton of cheese, fields to play in, and Whiskers and Bob to keep him company.
I love you Boo/Nooky Thompson/slenderman/little man/Purple rain/baby Boo/slender man/pweasle/Boo Boo Bear.
You’re going to be missed by a lot of people you helped.