Ode to Madeleine
She wasn’t with us for long, relatively speaking.
Still, she is unforgettable. Mourning for her is unusual, in that I don’t shed tears, I simply and deeply (insatiably) long for her to gallop by and then perhaps grab my ankle, ride my calf while I walk down the hallway or leap alongside me in a gesture of forceful, convincing, undeniable authentic, serious catty love.
What is it about the desperate sadness of being unable to have what you want?
She left us in a chaotic time; a never ending whirlwind in our personal lives while I was trying to start a business… I was so overwhelmingly distracted on a 24/7 basis and yet distinctly, I missed her presence with a disturbing preciseness. There was an awful void on that morning when she failed to return, as I put on my tennis shoes for our daily walk. Usually she was always there at my feet, an interruption in my morning haze, to make tying my shoestrings a major challenge.
What do I remember the most? Two things; she loved to sleep in a curl under my chin (but only for a few hours in the middle of the night) and that there was only one “bad” thing that she ever did, in all of her time with us। With her rambunctious nature and endless energies, it seems incredible that she was as careful, as delicate and as indestructive as she was. But now that I look back, she really did very little damage to our domestic refuge on the east side of Tucson’s outer limits.
So, what was this” bad cat” caper that our cunning little Maddie Mae committed?
She trapped and caught a moth in our favorite Ikea rice paper floor lamp. For weeks, she had stalked this silly moth, eventually capturing and killing it, as the poor bug found itself helplessly encumbered in the stylish lighting fixture. But we loved it, our silly lamp. An in an instant, it was ruined. Ripped to shreds by a killer cat impulse. Did we really want an animal living in our house that could potentially annihilate all of our new furniture?
Born of an unfettered, feral and “wild” situation somewhere in Tucson, we are convinced that Madness the little all black kitty was always looking for the quality of her first hours of life. Fresh air… this lovely cat was essentially and purely free in heart and soul; ready for the vast consequences of any riotous leap. It was obvious that there had once been a time when she had been completely loved by her own; though not too possessively and not for long.
I think that when the well meaning and yet misguided forces of our “civilization” took her captive (those self righteous animal rescue peeps with organizations and budgets and loads of judgment), she began her descent. Hers was a brief and vibrant life, trying so hard to fulfill its’ positive and energetic existence despite the unkind captivity imposed upon her by her “saviours”.
And as it turned out, she was so young, and so very destined for a short time around. It was sick, as so many things are in this world now… well meaning though they claimed to be, they took her in and mutilated her at a young age, chopped away her reproductive organs before she knew what had happened. Even though I didn’t know her then, I knew that it had hurt her terribly when they had spayed her, evidenced by the fact that she desperately wanted no one to touch her below her waist line, for any reason. Someone had been unspeakably unkind, harsh and cruel, in a rush to “do the right thing”.
Then afterward, she was sent to a cramped cage which was a brutal environment at its’ inception. But they were protecting her from the ugly cold world out there; those politically correct individuals who were/are in reality, loud screamers, abusive handlers and unkind, unloving, opportunistic keepers themselves. They call themselves “rescuers”, when in fact, they were/are the bullies, crucial molesters, ultimately charging money to hand this sweet kitten over to someone (us) who desired a pet and had no idea the torture this poor being had endured in the prior five short months of life with the sickest of “savers”.
All the same, for a very brief time Maddie Catty was happy with us. Our big desert ranch home was like an endless playground for running, leaping, hiding, cat napping and eventually for infinitely investigating. As she grew, she became ever stronger, smarter and ineffably more courageous. Always driven by some indefinable force to seek the infinite freedom into which she had been born as a feral creature. Finally, she could leap our walled yard with one bound. There was no confining her spirit as she grew up and developed and became ever more determined to conquer the world, as any respectable Leo might.
Instinctively and almost as soon as she came to live with us, she hunted, killed, butchered and ate the desert birds with fervor; nothing could compare to a whole fresh quail feast or a substantial salubrious woodpecker entrée. The massive desert pack rats which populate our area were a divine exploit in pure, fresh gluttony. A round, fat lizard as an hors d’ouvre was exceedingly sumptuous.
Life was amazing; particularly once freed from the abusive veterinarian who had “saved” her from a feral life by placing her in the dirty, overcrowded, loud and disgusting office… where she was never allowed out of the cramped and unpleasant digs of a small wire cage of captivity.
She sought the comfort, exhilaration, liberty and pleasure of those very first days of life with an undomesticated and unconventional feline family which is likely long gone, divided and most probably nearly all dead. All we could give her was our love, our deepest respect and a few months of loving independence. A ceaseless drive for autonomy sent her past the safety zone of our stucco walls and into the unforgiving desert where, like the birds, rabbits and lizards that she devoured, she too became a victim of the creatures larger, more savage, cunning and hungrier than she.
Yes, she was micro-chipped, however the chips digest pretty much the same as a loin chop and its’ bones in the gastric juices of a wily coyote. No trace was ever found.
Bless you Maddie, where ever your limitless spirit now roams… we will always love you and we only wanted you to feel cherished, boundless and happy. We think that most likely, when you were with us, you always were/are.
And it’s okay dearest Maddie Mae Madness, we didn’t really like the lamp all that much anyway (kept it only as a remembrance of your sweet soul). Not nearly as much as we loved you.