It's been nearly 2.5 years since I lost my baby boy. I feel like my soul is being ripped apart still, so I try not to think about it, but then it sneaks up and rips me apart again at the smallest reminder.
Mushu was my baby boy. In 2004, my sister found his mom (Queen Tess, still kicking around at my parents' house), running back and forth between the house and the barn on her property, clearly panicked. When my sister followed the very young Tess, she found a tiny little orange kitten in the barn, clearly only minutes old. He was only as long as my thumb. My sister brought them both over to my parents' house, and we nurtured them both. Tess was just a kitten herself, less than a year old, and didn't have any other kits besides my 'Shu. We had to bottle feed 'Shu because he was so little. As soon as he was walking, he trotted himself through the house, up the stairs, and helped himself to my bed. He did that every single night. We would snuggle. When he started wanting to go outside, we tethered him to a milk crate so he couldn't quite run yet. I think that may have just been strength training for him. That summer he grew explosively, to the point where he was trying to climb trees with the milk crate still tethered to his harness. My little boy turned into a giant, 18lb. (neutered of course) tom cat. He snuggled in my bed every night, and I would let him in and out of my second story bedroom window, onto the roof, when he wanted to go play in the barns.
It was so hard, when I left for college. I thought every day of ways I could have him up at college with me, but realized he would be miserable never being allowed outside. My mom would send me pictures of him dragging his blankies around the house. He would always steal the fleece off my bed and drag it around with him. He was always so happy to see me when I came back home, like he thought I was never coming back for him. He started gaining weight while I was gone in depressive eating. It broke my heart to leave him there every time I had to go. My parents rescued another little one they found on the road, and for the first time Mushu took a shine to another kitty. They played together everyday, and he started to be happier. Mom said he didn't mope as much while I was gone, once Nala was in the house.
When he got a permanent bladder infection, the doctor put him on a special diet to help him lose weight. He hated it, and was always hungry. He lost a little weight, enough for them to find a massive tumor in his abdomen. I was devastated. My parents called me in August of 2012, while I was away at school to tell me they had rushed him to the animal hospital 45 minutes away to see if there was any treatment. There wasn't. It was too advanced, and had metastasized to his other organs. They said he had probably had it for months. And I wasn't there to notice. They didn't give him much time.
Two months later he stopped eating. My mom called me home to take him to the vet for the last time. I stayed up the whole night before, just lying with him on the kitchen floor and snuggling him as he would let me. He curled up by my side, just like he had every night for the past 8 years.
When it was time to go the next morning I was inconsolable. My mom drove to the vet and I held him in my lap on the way there. He used to love riding around in the car with me. He would stretch out across the back window (I had a 2-door car) and sun himself where ever we went. He picked up on my fear and sorrow, and started to cry. In his last moments, I was cowardly. I left him on his own. He was scared and didn't understand what was going on, and I wasn't there to comfort him. I didn't hold him. He searched for me and as I saw the light in his eyes leave, I cried out "goodbye my baby". I don't know if he heard me. I felt like my soul had been ripped away.
When I was able, we carried him home. So much lighter in death. I shredded the fleece blanket that was on my bed, that he loved so much, and wrapped him in it to be buried. We buried him in a sunny spot in the garden, near the pile of rocks he used to sun himself on. A tiny wrought iron cross marks his grave. I still find it difficult to visit that part of my parents' yard.
He was my baby boy. While not my first kitty, he was my first protector, my first giant purring teddy bear, my first unconditional love. He would follow me around the yard when I did yard work, snuggle with me when I wasn't feeling well. he would crawl under the covers with me in the winter to stay warm. He would occasionally bring me "presents" from the barn. In all things, he was MY boy. He wouldn't listen to anyone else, or snuggle with anyone else. The best friend a girl could have, intensely loyal, loving and fiercely protective of me. I love him like I would love my own child.