i was thinking about wee hopeful bug today and i came back to the blog to do a search to remember some of our time together. and there is nothing written here, i realized that hopey had died before we had the blog to journal our memories. this made me sad because hope was such a huge force in the realization of saints and many of the people who come here to share our stories, never had the chance to get to know her. so...here is the difficult journey of wee hopeful bug and how this tiny wrecked creature changed my life.
wee hopeful bug came into the cat shelter i was managing along with her brother romeo. they were about 4 months old and were distemper survivors whose intestinal tracts were permanently destroyed by the disease. some animals are not meant to survive, and hope and romeo probably shouldn't have either. but they did. and they needed a place to live and be loved and with their profound lack of bowel control, it would never be a regular family home.
we knew right away that we couldn't manage hope in a shelter environment without access to constant bathing. she was on a special diet and her medications were complex and she needed constant weight monitering too. i took hope home. it took months and months to even get her to grow, and by the time she died she still weighed less than four pounds. every single day was a burden and a struggle and the mess that surrounded her continually was a terrible challenge. my family called her "poopy cat" and that used to make me mad. no one would let her near them because she was always dripping feces and her smell was the worst smell of all. and oh my god, i loved that cat. she was emaciated, sick, tiny and stinky. but she loved me more than i have ever been loved before. she would lay on my chest on a towel and place her paws on each side of my face and make this odd, loving hopey sound. and some days she would be so playful and spend hours chasing a twist tie across the kitchen floor and others she would scream when she had a bowel spasm. i cried alot til we got the spasms under control.
hope didn't know she was a mess, she didn't know that she looked and smelled a horror, because i never told her she did. i used to let her out on the patio at my old house, she liked to roll around on the cement and play with dried leaves. when i wanted her to come back in, sometimes she would come to me and sometimes she would run and hide under the bushes and play catch me if you can cuz i am not done playing yet. one day when she was about a year old, she disappeared. i looked everywhere for her, and combed the entire nieghborhood and put up posters hoping to find her.
after 4 days i realized she was gone forever and all i could think of was i had lost all my hope. i cried non stop and i realized then how much this tiny cat meant to me. i can't say my family was sorry that she was gone because she made such a gross mess everywhere, but they felt really bad for me. anyway, on the fifth morning i looked out the sliding glass door and there was her tiny little face silently "ehh'ing" at me and i have never been so thankful and relieved in my life before. after that i wouldn't let her out anymore which somewhat pissed her off.
romeo became problematic at the shelter because while he was never as bad as wee hopeful bug, he still was bad enough. some of the volunteers were close to revolt and insisted he either be put down or confined to a cage, so i brought hope's brother home too. they had been apart for a very long time and weren't that interested in each other at first. but eventually these two cats remembered themselves and became the best of friends.
now my family was pretty close to revolt, they barely tolerated hope but her brother too was more then they could handle. and the fighting and the arguing started and really in all fairness they all had a point. hope and romeo could not be managed in a family home. and so saints was born to give all the ones who just couldn't live in a home with a family, a home that was theirs alone. and we moved to the first saints site which in retrospect was horrid, but at the time, it was a place where they could all just be who they were.
hopey continued to be my best friend, but having a friend like her was really hard. she would get into my closet and sleep on the shelves and everything in there would wreak of sweet hope. i remember one day one of my nursing friends, told me my clothes smelled like shit, they were clean but the had absorbed wee bugs odor. i was so embarrassed, i moved all my work clothes into a wooden chest and bought bottles of smelly fabric softeners to add to my laundry and boxes of fabreeze soaked dryer sheets to toss in too and spray bottles of fabreeze that i kept in my car so i could spray my clothes before i walked into work. and she liked the linen shelves too, and i can't count how many times we unloaded piles of clean linen that she had soiled that added 20 loads of laundry to the daily laundry loads. it was horrible living with her but there was nothing i could do. she was alive, and happy and she loved me thru and thru. i couldn't kill her just because she smelled so bad. but honestly, secretly, sometimes i wished she would die.
and she did. one night when she was three years old, she slipped away in the middle of the night in her bed. she wasn't any sicker than she had ever been, and the evening before, she had been happily purring on my chest and biting me as i combed her out after her bath. the vet told me she probably perforated her ulcerated bowel and in her frail condition would have turned septic within a few hours.
so i lost my hope, this burden that i carried for so long. and almost a year after her death, the tears are starting again to come. i buried this true heart of saints, deep in the heart of saints because i could not bear to actually let her go. and i hung her windchime in the center of the gate so that each time we enter, we enter saints with her above us.
there were lots of people who met hope and thought that i should have just put her down. but there were a very few who were lucky enough to see that very special, and very alive cat inside that wrecked body. one day romeo will pass like his sister because neither one of them should have ever survived but they did. and saints is here because they both deserved a home for as long as they needed one.
wee hopeful bug was not just the heart of saints, she grew her heart inside me too. life is not always easy, it is not always pretty but it is what we are given so we live it the best that we can. and of all of the gifts that this life has ever given me, the best was the burden of loving wee hopeful bug.