Gracie came to me at the end of August, over eight years ago. She was a mere seven weeks old. Since then, she has been under my care; a constant companion throughout an ever-changing, often tumultuous, time.
This evening, I relinquished her to my sister, where (if all goes well) she may end up staying, along with this pretty gal:
Katie was adopted by my mother at nearly the same time I took on Gracie, and- as I was living with my parents at the time- this meant that the two kittens were sometime companions, many many years ago. As fate would have it, they've both been passed on to my sister, and ended up together again.
Of course, even if they remember each other, there will be territorial issues to smooth out and adjustments to be made before they could possibly get along again. I know that it will take time, and I worry about the stress that it may cause Gracie in the interim, but one thing is clear: the stress in my own home has gotten to be too much for her.
We've verified that her UTI cleared up on antibiotics, but the peeing continues, so I am praying fervently that a change of pace and situation will help clear up the errant behavior and make it possible for my sister to keep her on indefinitely.
In the meantime, though I wish desperately that she may find happiness even if it means being separated from me, and- if I'm truly honest- I'm already feeling significantly less burdened by the reprieve of an excess dependent to take responsibility for, I'm already beginning to feel her absence. It's started in little ways, changes in routine: I no longer have to worry about keeping the basement door open to give her access to her litterbox; I can prop my bedroom door open if I so wish; the laundry room light will finally be turned off for the night, since there is no longer a running fountain there requiring electricity from the connected outlet.
I'm beginning to wonder how I might feel tomorrow, and the day after. It helps immensely that I know and trust her new caregiver, and can easily keep tabs on her (I've already been given the reassurance that Katie and Gracie's reunion went about as well as it possibly could have), but there's some very real history between Gracie and me, largely forgotten in the day-to-day of my current survival existence.
Here I am, completely absorbed in the wants, needs, and desires of my three babies, but Gracie was- in a sense- the true "first."
I still remember the day I first met her (and her brother).
I clearly remember the day I brought her home.
I gave her love and comfort, nursed her through early illness, fed her multiple times a day, kept her company through the night.
I watched her eyes change color.
I was present for all of her "firsts..."
... watched her bravely face new obstacles...
... cheered her along when she succeeded.
Saw her grow from impossibly little...
... to unaccountably big (though "big," for her, is still quite small compared to every other cat I've ever known).
It happened in a blink, but still, it changed me. Raising Gracie gave me a taste of the motherhood that I had not yet experienced, brought me a taste of the joy of companionship I had not yet found.
I know in my heart that our proper places now are apart, but I still feel just a little unready to let her go.
Go, however, she has done; all there is left now to do is hope that she finds happiness.
They played wonderfully together once; perhaps they will someday again.