Friday, October 30, 2015

A Tribute to Basil

The second I heard his adorable, tiny meow from the wood pile, I knew he was mine. A scrawny, stray kitten, no bigger than a slipper, with black and grey stripes, muffled fur, and one eye half shut like the Bloom County character, Bill the Cat. He came right to me, cuddled like a puppy, and kneaded my chest. Then he purred, and my life changed forever. He claimed me as his mommy. And so, I brought him in and named him Basil.

 At first we kept him in the garage in a makeshift den of blankets, a pillow, and my softest sweatshirt, until I could purchase some cat things for him. He curled right up in my sweatshirt and slept. When I went to visit him with food and water he meowed a welcome, cuddled at my feet and practically begged to be held. I stayed with him to make him feel comfortable and took him outside with me when I did yard work. He followed me like a puppy.

I had him checked out at the vet, and after some shots, an ear cleaning, and some eye medication, Basil was really shaping up. He was eating well, filling out like a healthy little guy, and purred louder each day. When the temperature dipped below freezing, we moved his den into our bedroom, but he preferred to curl up on the bed, especially at night. I never had a kitten sleep on my chest. It’s about the next best thing to having an infant—warm, loving, and mine.

But the dogs were going to be a problem. They never had a cat before, and they didn’t take to the neighbor’s. Nikki had already proven to be a predator in the past. Would she be able to love a cat?

We carefully began to introduce the dogs to the new member of the family. They were curious, but on high alert. As long as I kept them separated and monitored their time together, it looked like it might work.

But alas, the bedroom door was not as secure as the garage door. Before I could save him, Basil was killed. I found both dogs standing over his lifeless body.

It was the most horrifying thing I had ever experienced. Maybe it would have been easier to accept if he wasn’t so cute, if he didn’t act like he loved me. Maybe if he didn’t run to my side or cry when I had to put him down to leave, I wouldn’t have cared so much. Maybe if he didn’t turn to meow at me while he ate his kitten chow, as if thanking me for his food. But he was no ordinary kitten. He was my Basil—as dear to me as the pets I’ve had for years. I had him for two weeks, but he felt like he had been part of me forever.

Michael made a wooden cross for him and we buried him near the pond out back. Michael said Basil would have died more tragically if we didn’t find him, and that we gave him the best two weeks of his life. Michael sure knows how to comfort a grieving mommy.

Basil taught me how wonderful cats can be. He taught me about love in a way I had never experienced. He taught me I can be a cat mommy in the future, maybe when the dogs are old and slow. He also taught me that forgiveness is sweeter than anger. I cried to Heavenly Father over Basil’s death, pleading with Him for Basil’s forgiveness. I felt it—coming from that sweet innocent animal on the other side of the veil. I prayed also to forgive my dogs for what they did. They knew I loved Basil. They saw me cuddle him, hold him, keep them at a distance from him. I wanted to get rid of both of them for what they did, but I actually felt Basil’s love pour over me, as if he had forgiven them. He taught me to forgive those who know not what they do.

Basil is in heaven with Mandy, my first and best dog. Mandy is telling Basil stories about me and Michael, filling him in on how much we loved her and how much we will continue to love him. I may not be able to have another kitten in the near future, but I will always have an undying love for the one I owned for two weeks. Basil will never be forgotten.

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