Requiem for Bernadette

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My last photo with Bernadette, playing with the string of my vest

The other week, we lost one of our cats. Bernadette was the most loving cat I’ve ever met. She would constantly rub herself against us and demand for our attention and when we were so enthralled by the idea that we had all these cats in our house we brought them in and Bernadette was the most comfortable in our home, and in our loving embraces. When I would step out into the garden, she’d get up from her spot, and she’d run up to me so she could be stroked and petted.

Often times, I’d find myself going outside and bringing her in just so we could spend a few minutes cuddling each other.

We used to have a cat and she was quite high-strung. She’d attack us for no reason — choosing me, most especially. But Bernadette was her complete opposite. In the midst of our affections, she would take lip nips out of my hand or feet but would never sink her teeth in, never drawing blood. My brother said that this is their way of showing affection. She would claw me, sometimes, but she’d never draw blood. It was to ensure that both my hands were on her and nothing else. She hated it if I were reading or my other hand was petting or stroking another cat.

She wanted all the attention. I was happy to give it.

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Bernadette and Adele, cuddling up in the summer heat

As she got older, she would leave the house at night. One morning, last week, we found her dead body outside our gate, ravaged by what look like a dog. There are a few strays dogs in our street and she might’ve gotten in their way or vice-versa.

I miss her terribly. We have three cats — one afraid of us, the other two friendly but not as loving as Bernadette — and we have three kittens who are growing up and are slowly becoming more accustomed to having humans dote on them.

But Bernadette was special. Of all the cats, she was everyone’s favourite but I thought of her as my cat. She sought me out and when we’d bring her in after dinner, my Dad would do everything to get her to cuddle with him, and she would, but she wouldn’t leave the table without cuddling up to me too.

Deep inside, I felt she was mine and she was there for me. And now she’s gone. And I’m sure that this cat went to heaven.

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We all loved her, by for me, I always felt that Bernadette was my cat


Ode to Bernadette

You knew I was damaged,

but you kept purring

and rubbing against me,

hungry for my hands

to pet you, to stroke you

and lavish on you

all the love I can find

inside me

and demanded

nothing less than

the fury of a waterfall.

I was the broken one

but by asking me

to care for you

I forgot myself

and returned

to who I was

before shattering;

I was, once again,

kind, attentive, full

of love for life

and all things

still living.

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