Once, whilst munching on a handful on m&m’s, I turned to my friend Uncle Squiggly (not a real uncle, just a nick name) and intending to throw an m&m into the air and catch it in my mouth, I said “Hey Squiggly, can you do this?” I then proceeded to tilt my head skyward and throw the m&m into the air. But instead of catching it in my mouth, it landed with a sticky thud in the little cleft of my upper lip, just below the tip of my nose. “No, I don’t think I can,” he replied.
I got an e-mail minutes before I left work on Wednesday. It was Sabrina, Leelo had passed away on Tuesday. He apparently died peacefully and of old age. She was going to have a garden funeral for him at her mom’s house. She just wanted to let me know. I called her and told her I’d be over. When I arrived Sabrina and her mom were standing over a hole that was already dug out in the back yard. Sabrina was crying and lightly petting him. I gave her the flowers I had bought. While sprinkling rose petals over Leelo’s body I told a couple of my favorite stories about him.
I get along well with cats. They really seem to like me. Leelo was no exception. When I first started staying with Sabrina, I would wake up in the middle of the night with Leelo sitting upright on my chest, his wet nose an inch or less from mine. Surprisingly, it never startled me to wake up with this, in fact I enjoyed it. I would tease Sabrina that her cat was trying to suck the breath out of me while I slept.
Sabrina kept Leelo at her mom’s last summer. There he could leave the house, chase birds around Washington Park and do other cat stuff, instead of keeping him cooped up in her apartment. Leelo would often take off on an adventure for a day at a time, he had been doing it for the last 10 years. This time, however, he had been gone for three days and the worry and bad thoughts crept in. For the next two days we scoured the neighborhood, searching alleys, talking to neighbors, and posting up signs. The next day Sabrina got a call from her mom. A neighbor had found Leelo in the ally a couple of days ago, apparently hit by a vehicle, the neighbor disposed of him in a nearby dumpster. Sabrina was devastated. She had no chance to say goodbye, no chance for closure. We all cried a little bit. Two days later, emaciated and limp, Leelo showed up on her doorstep. Pulling the perfect Tom sawyer, Leelo used the last of his nine.
I’ll miss him.