Good-Bye, Sweet "Cow-Boy"
We picked Clawdie up as a six-month old kitten from a farm about 25 miles from here. We had three cats at the time, but we wanted another. So, when we saw an ad in the paper, that was that. We called him "Cow-Boy" for a while because he'd been living in a cow barn, so he smelled like musty hay for his first few weeks with us. His actual name - Clawde Allouez - was our attempt to be clever, making a feline-themed reference to a local historical figure.
He was funny because he never really meowed. Instead, he made what we called a "crackie noise" when he wanted to say hi or needed attention. He was also our diplomat, getting along with every single cat sibling he had - no less than 11, counting the three who lived here when he arrived. In fact, he seemed to take it on himself to make the new ones - especially the little kittens - feel welcome. And, when his "older sister" Maddie became frail about six and a half years ago, he latched onto her in a special way - so much so that he was visibly depressed when she died.
We're glad we could keep him home until the end; it was hard to see him fade away, but at least he was here in familiar surroundings. I think that brought him peace. In fact, in his last hour, though he was nearly comatose, he seemed to be trying to purr for Jeff and me as we sat with him.
When Maddie was dying, I asked our then-youth pastor what I should say if the girls asked if she'd be in Heaven. Bradley said the wisest answer he'd ever heard to that question came from one of his seminary professors, who'd said, "We don't really know clearly from Scripture; animals don't have souls, of course. But they are part of the Lord's creation and He loves them. We do know there will be no tears or sadness in Heaven. So our pets will be there if we'll need them to be happy. Or, if they're not there, it's because we won't need them then. Either way, it'll be okay when we get there."
That makes good sense to us, and we're holding onto that idea again now as we mourn for Clawdie. If it turns out he won't be in Heaven when we get there, I know we'll be okay with that then. But, in the meantime, we're comforted by the thought that he may be romping around with all his "siblings" who've gone before him, perhaps even greeting Jesus with his "crackie noise" meow.