Curious George's story
In 2009 I adopted my lovely boy Curious George (a male short haired polydactyl tabby previously named Cosmo) from Battersea's London Centre, just after we moved from South London to Buckinghamshire.
Despite being a hunter extraordinaire, without fail George would come home to bed in the wee hours after an evening of exploring, making friends and patrolling the back gardens of the neighbourhood.
This past Thursday night George didn't let himself in to come to bed. His human brother (my 18 year old son) searched for him on Friday to no avail and when I came in from work, I grabbed a box of his favourite treats to rattle and called George. No sign of him, but I wasn't worried - I often wished I could shrink myself to go on his adventures with him because the sheer spring in his step on his return often spoke of an awesome napping spot discovered, the perfect patch of sunlight in some garden utilised, and adventures untold, thoroughly enjoyed. His favourite expression though had to be: "It's bedtime George; good night". That one sentence would bring him running from two or three gardens away, climbing fences and rushing home for one last treat; the lights went off, nocturnal adventures were put on hold, and he'd get cuddled and stroked until he sprawled on his back in comfortable bliss, and I fell asleep.
On Friday, I absently scanned the tops of garden fences on my tiptoes wondering where he'd got to, because his food bowl in the kitchen hadn't been touched all day, and Georgie boy loved a chicken dinner. I happened to glance at the far right corner at the bottom of the garden (where he rarely bothered to go) and saw my boy lying still and unmoving in the grass.
His back was to me, with its beautiful tiger stripes, and I knew. I just knew. There was no way he would be that still after hearing my voice. You see, he loved me, and I loved him. It was that simple. Complete strangers would comment on how we always walked side by side, stopping only to touch and reassure the other we were there - I'd say "Let's go, George", he'd glance at me, trot over, and looking up, wait for me to determine the direction of our plans (to the bathroom, to bed, to the kitchen, to my desk, to watch telly) - then walk side by side with me, and confidently join in whatever I had to do, with plenty of pauses for cuddles, kisses, and rubbing our faces cheek to cheek. I found it easier to tell my boy where I'd be and invite him along; it saved him from either yelling until he found which room I was in.
In that moment, at 6:30pm this past Friday, I lost one of my 'boys'... and my heart broke. I'll never know why or how he died, he was still so young, wasn't out of sorts or ill. There were no injuries, no visible trauma, and his last vet visit saw him pronounced healthy. How I wish I knew the end was coming. How I wish I held him and kissed him more that final day.
I wrapped my beautiful, solid, five fingered, unique, precious boy in my ("our"!) favourite pyjama top, placed him carefully in a box, and to the heartbreaking sound of my son sobbing for his fur brother, took him on one last trip to the vet for a dignified cremation.
Thank you Battersea Dogs & Cats Home for the amazing work you do.
Thank you for giving me seven years with one of the enduring loves of my life. I thought I'd have longer. I thought we'd still get to share so much. I thought...
And I still can't really believe it; I'm still listening out for the catflap to rattle, his distinctive voice to call for me. I can't believe how fully my wonderful terror, the scourge of mice in Buckinghamshire, filled this house, and made it a home. It feels so empty and silent without his larger than life personality, and big, solid presence. I'll never know what happened, but I know that he knew, without a doubt, that he was adored by so many who were blessed to meet him. Adored by me.
It's bed time George. Good night my darling.