“Hon, where’s Boomer?”
For 18 and a half years, that has been a common phrase on the Fyfe Farm.
Even when she was a teensy, tiny, adorable kitten out on our farm in windy Watford City she would get lost.
In hay bales.
In the tack room.
Up in the rafters.
I would panic when we wouldn’t be able to find her. She was the runt of the litter and one of her siblings was particularly mean to the rest of them. I worried she would run little Boomer off the farm or not let her back in under cover.
I didn’t have to worry for long, though.
Alistair went out one day when the gale-force winds were whipping horizontal snow and ice crystals around in a frigid, deadly blizzard.
The horses were fine.
4 of the kitties were fine. Boomer was right there next to her brother, Oscar. She wasn’t missing for once.
The hairy, big, mean kitten, however, was on the Ritchie water fountain, out in the blizzard.
Apparently she got her paws wet while drinking and ended up stuck, frozen to death, mid-leap off the fountain.
The other 4 kitties thrived after that.
Boomer and Oscar made the long move back to Canada and soon became Inside Cats.
With Outdoor privileges of course.
And Boomer continued to get lost.
Behind the wood pile.
She learned her name quickly, probably because I was always calling her. She also had the only “oooh” sound in her name back then which distinguished her from Oscar, Marshal, Shep, Chorney and Alistair.
She actually has a little grey soul patch beneath her adorable puckered-up mouth.
It looks like she is saying “oooooh”.
Boomer and Oscar helped me get through my guilt and grief over the whole antifreeze-doesn’t-mix-well-with-cats thing.
I needed their comfort that year because so many things were happening that I couldn’t control.
Alistair moved back to ND soon after he started working as a Canadian physician so I was often by myself on a large farm with pregnant mares.
I had zero support and even faced some misplaced animosity as a figure skating coach in the little town I lived in.
It was the same town Alistair and his first wife lived in for many years and some of their old friends weren’t necessarily opening their arms to the new, young wife with her spandex and sequins and love of makeup.
Some friends, like Sue, Glenn, Patti, Shirley, Janie, Bill and Julie were wonderful, though.
And the cats were wonderful, too.
Warm, loving, purring, fuzzy bodies to cuddle up with on never-ending lonely nights when my job wasn’t any fun anymore.
But I was able to join Alistair in the states again so we all moved to Hazen. Then to Bismarck. And now to Montana.
Through all of these moves and all of these years, Boomer continued to get lost.
In the little closet the ferrets like to hide in.
In the basement.
In the garage.
As the feline Fyfes have aged they have recently begun to spend most of their days in the kitchen/sun room. Its one of my favorite rooms, too.
Even in the winter the sun shines brightly.
There are 4 cat beds in there and I can generally find a cat, or a combination of cats, or UB or Loki in any of them at any given time.
Boom has been spending more and more time in those beds lately.
It began last fall when I realized she had lost some weight. She is a cat who has always been slim but in September she looked a bit gaunt.
Her thyroid was on overdrive so we started twice-daily pills.
In the mornings I risk life and limb by scruffing her and tossing the tiny white pill down the hatch.
Usually it works. I still have all of my fingers.
At night its canned soft food for everyone, with a pill mashed up in Boomer’s dish.
She’s not our first cat with hyperthyroidism and she won’t be our last.
When we said our tearful goodbyes to Oscar back in January Boomer went into a bit of a slump.
A cat who used to lay in those beds with 1, 2, or 3 others now lays in them alone.
Her companion since the time in their mama’s womb is forever gone and it made an impact on every single Fyfe in this house.
As much as this hurts to admit, I’m losing Boom.
It isn’t the amount of time she sleeps during the day- Hell, I’ll be doing much the same when I’m 90 or 100 years old.
Its the weight loss.
Her decreased grooming.
The way she almost shouts her meows at me when she wants her soft food.
Its seeing her petite, feminine, grey and white self just sitting at the water dish, staring at it.
And the tenderness on her right side.
Where I thought I felt a lump, or maybe it was her liver, or maybe it was both.
Her thyroid is whacked, her kidneys are failing and maybe there’s a lump.
Like the one in my throat right now.
But she eats and drinks without hesitation and keeps everything down.
She doesn’t limp, she isn’t jaundiced and she isn’t dehydrated.
Its tough right now because I’ve also noticed that Casey has a bad limp in the rear leg that still has hardware in it.
Loki seems to be losing her hearing, not realizing I’ve come home despite my boisterous “hey, Gangs” to them all sometimes.
And yet Loki seems quite content, if not a bit more clingy lately. I don’t mind the extra attention and snuggles. Maybe that’s one of the perks for her and I. And for her and UB, too.
And Casey still leaps and jumps and runs and wiggles and plays and licks and bumps into me and knocks things over. All with his floppy larynx that remains one-sided.
And Boomer still enjoys being held, gently, while I dance with her like I have done for 18 years.
And she continues to enjoy her sleep-in-morning special brunch dates with Mulder, Loki, Mummy and Daddy where everyone gets bacon.
I advise clients to think about what is important for them as individuals and families when the question, “When is it Time?” comes up.
Its different for everyone.
For me, I want to be able to recognize and share love with friends and family.
I would like to be free from pain.
I’d like to be able to put my makeup on. Its vain but true.
I’d also like to be able to lift a glass of red wine to my lips and enjoy its taste.
I want these same types of things for my animal companions, albeit without the mascara.
The time may come soon when Boomer won’t let me groom the matts from her delicate hair. Or she won’t prance into the room with the guinea pigs and chat with me. Or she won’t head butt me, or Facetime-Bomb every single person I chat with. Or she won’t want her soft food or some of my chicken.
It would be akin to Casey not wanting to goof around and jump and play.
And Loki not wanting to be with me.
I will find strength from somewhere because I have to and because I love them and because I owe it to them.
They have all given me so much.
And I will give them beautiful, dignified deaths.
Not today. Not tomorrow.
Not next week.
But soon I will lose my Boom.
She won’t be lost, though. She will be in many different places like she has been all of her life.
In her photos.
In my memory.
In my heart.