It has taken me a few weeks to get myself to the point where I could write this. Grief is a selfish emotion in truth as we mourn over what we miss. However, we miss what we love too. I knew my furry friend could not last forever and I only had him for the last third of his life. I never knew what a young Billy Bob got up to, I do often like to imagine him as a kitten.
I have seen him play, laying on his back and throwing a leaf into the air, he has even chased bits of string although with less enthusiasm than I was putting into the game. I have seen him being pushed off his water bowl by a pair of doves and catch a mouse called Micky no Tail who never ran away anyway. Billy Bob had no teeth and would just walk around with him for a bit in his mouth until both of them agreed the game was over.
He did when I first came to Spain have a couple of friends who would clean his face after he had eaten. He never tolerated them for more than a few minutes and would bat them away. When I moved home, he found a cat he did not like, and he would chase that one down the road and he did once get into a pretty bad fight that he would have lost if I had not broken it up. He was laying on his side pawing at a great big Ginger thing that was basically trying to take chunks out of him. Quite bizarrely BB started that fight. He sulked for a few days after that and never fought again.
He first came into my life when I lived back in France with my partner. We were breaking up that year after spending 16 years together and it was quite a sad year even though we remained friends. He kind of came into my life when I needed him if I am honest. I saw this shape in the hedge which let out an almost silent mew and it was clear he was in trouble, he had some dry bread with him that I assume had been thrown out earlier to the birds., but he was in a terrible shape. After some thought I took him to the vets mainly to see if he was chipped and see what was wrong. He was dewormed and examined. The whole time he sat there on the table and shook, burying his head into my hands, that sort of won me over. The conclusion was that he had been well looked after but his owner may have died, and he had tried but failed to look after himself. He was estimated to be about 11 or 12 years old. He stayed with me for the rest of his life which was exactly five years to the day.
I moved to Spain later in the year and he spent 9 hours in the car wailing the whole way, he hated travelling, but I moved another three times in Spain but thankfully much shorter distances. He was devoted to me and had the friendliest of dispositions. Never a hiss or a spit in all the years we were together, and he loved sitting beside me with his paw on my arm. He did quickly forget his dry stale bread days and fell into typical cat mode by assuming the food bowl would always be full to the brim or it would be considered empty. He also felt he had the right to demand a certain type of cat food only to reject it at a minute’s notice. Often after I had made the effort to go out and get his favourite choice.
I thought I had lost him once before, he went missing and I almost ran out of places to look. I saw him eventually laying in the roadside gutter, I had a lump in my throat as I approached him as I assumed, he had been run over but he showed signs of life as I got to him. It was late, and there was nothing I could do but carry him home and look after him. I sat with him all night, putting drops of water onto his lips. In the morning he stood up all be it on wobbly legs. I think he may have eaten some rat poison as there were people who put that down nearby. He got stronger through the day and I nicknamed him Bounce Back Billy Bob.
The last couple of years I have watched his slow decline. He went blind and began to walk in circles sometimes. I know enough to understand that this is not a good sign. The vet said the same thing and at his obvious age there was no op to save him. I decided to not go through all the tests that would pinpoint where the tumour was in his head and vowed that I would not let him suffer. Billy Bob was not ready to go then though, he showed no signs of pain and although did slowly grow to have moments of confusion, he still looked for his food and loved sitting beside me purring loudly. In fact only 36 hours before he passed he ate and sat with me purring.
His end came suddenly, I walked into the office where he had started to sleep on a double quilt by my desk. He had knocked his water bowl over and I think he may have had a fit. He was on his bed with his head up against the wall. He looked peaceful and sound asleep, but he never woke up from that and remained in that position all day. I once again sat with him but apart from his body moving as he breathed there was no sign of him knowing anything all night. I kept stroking him, but he did not know I was there, and then just before 6.00am he simply left. He was cold, and I knew he was gone.
We keep everything that is past alive in our thoughts. Nothing truly goes, all memories exist in time and space. I shall remember my furry buddy for the rest of my days. We rescued each other I guess.