Last week something terrible happened to you, and by the time we found you there was nothing we could do to help you.  And so this weekend and well before your time, we had to let you leave us.

Bucky looking upHow you came into our lives was never quite clear to me; I think we found you meowing and scratching around within a wall of the local primary school.  How on earth did you get in there?  We’ll never know, but we didn’t think much of it at the time.

Bucky enjoying Safcol mild chilli & roasted garlic tuna

Your curiosity persisted though, and it later had you dangling from ironing boards by your foot, lodging your head in tuna cans and getting trapped in the garden shed.

Sleeping in doll houses and shoe boxes and commandeering a number of the dog’s kennels comprise just a couple of the many things that made you unique—the many things that I don’t want to forget.

Bucky resting with tucked legs

From the very beginning you had a bizarre resting posture.  You’d either flatten yourself on the ground or fold your legs in like some sort of amputee.  We always wondered whether this was because you’d adapted to inner-wall living at an early age.

Bucky resting flat on the ground

We used to have a good laugh over how you would traverse the backyard by balancing on the garden hose, like walking directly on grass was below your dignity.  Your commando antics on various garden critters also had us in stitches.  One time you were determined to teach some noisy cricket a lesson; you fired into the air off your hind legs and landed on top of it with your two front paws.  The elaborateness of your display was amusing enough; that you had actually given the physics a thought as to how to maximise your impact, though, left me in awe.

Bucky meowing at the doorYou were a clever and attentive cat, and you had no qualms about using this to your advantage.  If you wanted to come inside, you would open the door and come inside.  You had watched how we operate our spring-loaded security door, and so you devised your own technique for opening it—complete with sliding back down it with your paw wedged between the crack after you’d jumped on the handle, so that you could thwart the spring-loaded mechanism.  I am so happy that I managed to get this on video once.  Your typical follow-up would then be to either open the pantry and help yourself to packaged dry food, or find a nice spot on the wooden floor, literally fall over and relax.

One of your many displays of affection.The way you would bolt inside at full speed and then essentially keel over initially worried us, but we soon had you worked out.  Were you narcoleptic?  No; you were just odd.  Perhaps, like a cheeky toddler, you were amused by the reaction you got when we thought we’d heard something fall off a bench.  You certainly weren’t the world’s smallest cat; you had a fair bit of weight to you.

Bucky smiling at NikiYour displays of affection, and how you would always give your absolute best effort, fascinated me.  When we leaned down to pat your head you would jump up and balance on your hind legs.  When we relaxed on the couch you would join us, and you would treat us to full-bodied hugs—complete with your little arms wrapped around us, you would rub noses with us and you would rest your forehead on our chins like some sort of bizarre telepathic transfer was taking place.  If you weren’t hugging us with your paws you were holding onto our hands with them.  It was amazingly sweet to watch.  In a way, your actions seemed almost human.

Bucky telepathising with AndrewInterestingly, I feel that I have learnt more about affection from you than anyone or anything else.  I’ve never been one to show or feel much affection, but something about your interactions with me made me a whole lot less averse to the idea.  Because of you, I am now a lot more capable of showing affection than I was.  Perhaps this alone is a primary reason why I’m so upset that you’re gone—perhaps I feel that I’ve lost a part of myself with you, even though I really haven’t.

Bucky hidingI’m sorry I never let you jump up on me when I visited.  It wasn’t because I didn’t want you to; I was just horrendously allergic.  I really wish I’d just tolerated the aftermath now.

I hope to remember some other specific things about you as well.  Like the way you’d follow us to the bathroom and “ask” us for a cup of water.  The way you’d wrap your tail around yourself—always the right side—and then stand on it.  The way your eyes would slightly converge when you were about to do something cheeky.  The way you’d sometimes start to meow and then pause halfway through it for ten seconds to decide whether you were going to yawn.  The way you were so vocal about everything.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget your meow; I keep thinking I hear it around me in the strangest places.

Bucky on the porch

We will probably never know for sure what happened to you on Monday evening, or why you didn’t come home sooner for help when we may have been able to save you.  But we’re all glad that you did at least return—I am sure of this much.  The idea that we may have missed out on closure altogether is not a pleasant one.

Seeing you in your state at the vet was painful for all of us.  You could easily see our distress.  You persevered as best you could, trying to purr for us like there was no need to worry.  Perhaps you believed that we were there to take you home and everything would be alright.  That we weren’t hopefully can’t be seen as betrayal; you know that we were certainly wishing for no other outcome.

I’m sorry I didn’t stay with you until the very end, and I’m sorry I wasn’t there for your burial.  It wasn’t because I didn’t care enough: I just couldn’t handle it, and I knew this before I was even presented with the reality.  How the rest of the family managed to brave through this amazes me.  The moment I saw that green liquid in your IV drip heading towards you, I panicked and fled.  I flew down gravel roads in excess of 120km/h to get away as quickly as I could.  The memory of watching you die—artificially, like we’d given up hope—would have stuck with me forever.  I didn’t want that to be my last memory of you.

Even in your final living moments you were doing your very best to be as affectionate as always; you were using all your energy to come closer, nuzzle your head and place your paw in Niki’s hand.  This is my last memory of you, and as much as it hurts to know that there will be no more, I am grateful that this last one is a nice one.

Your departure was premature and unexpected, and I think this makes it all the harder for everyone to accept.  It truly has blown us all away.  I still struggle to believe that you, our youngest pet, are really gone.  I still don’t want to believe that when I next visit the family, you won’t be there to greet me at the doorstep.

Farewell, Bucky.  We will always miss you dearly.

November 1, 2003—September 19, 2009

November 1, 2003—September 19, 2009