September 15, 2017

When we first met, it was one of those situations where he picked me but the sentiment was mutual. I was told by the breeder that he was shy and skittish and didn't like people, especially males. He was 'show quality' but due to a nob on the end of his tail they put him up for general adoption. I walked in to meet him that morning and he looked curiously from behind the couch at me. I sat down on the floor and put my hand out and he came over and marked my hand with his mouth and started purring. That was all it took. That was the beginning of my adventures with Homer.

Over the course of our nearly 16 years together, I have been through a lot, and he was there every step of the way always a sounding board as silly as that may sound. We lived with my parents when I first got him and they had three other cats. Not an ideal situation but both my parents and the other cats were welcoming. We moved from Iowa to Washington, D.C. for an internship then back to Iowa, picking up his brother Rocco while out there; moved from Iowa to Minneapolis for my first corporate job; he grieved with me in 2006 when we lost Rocco unexpectedly; he was there for me when I took the step and came out when I was 31; we bounced around from apartment to apartment in Minneapolis before picking up and moving again, this time from Minneapolis to Silicon Valley with pitstops staying with my brother in Des Moines and sister in Denver and an emergency vet stop in Omaha to boot (car sickness); moved back to Minneapolis after a year and on the way back Homer learned how to drive with Hannah in the middle of Nebraska; he was there for me starting my 5+ year relationship with Chris and when we moved in together was incredible with welcoming Skip into the house with no issues...they've been good buddies from day one.

Over the past few months, Homer's health started to decline. He was eating way more than usual, but losing weight at a rapid rate. I took him to the vet and they said it was likely some kidney issues so put him on some meds. But those didn't work. He was still eating so much yet becoming skin and bones. I took him to the vet a few weeks ago and got some x-rays done and they found a large tumor in his stomach that was too far advanced to do anything in terms of meds or surgery.

The vet said our days together were limited but to treat him like a king and let him eat whatever he wants. That was a no brainer. Since then he has had ups and downs and I struggled with knowing when the time was to make the call to let him be at peace but I knew he'd let me know.

This week has been so special with him. I stayed with him on the couch during the nights and he would let me pet and massage him even though he was in pain. He chirped his loud chrip and rolled on his back letting me get some last pets with his belly. He has always been independent yet near me at all times and never a lap cat. But last night he struggled to get on the couch but he made it and climbed on my stomach and curled up and we slept like that until morning.

Sadly, this morning he let me know it was time. I had a vet service come to our place and while holding him in his favorite blanket said goodbye. Letting go of a pet is incredibly difficult. Some choose not to be in the room when it's done. But as difficult as it is, I wouldn't miss those last moments with him. There will be another cat in this home down the road, but my years with Homer are some of the best of my life. He's my boy and was the best possible companion I could have asked for. We just clicked.

I'll miss his loud chirping, a staple of Maine Coon affection. I'll miss coming home and him running to meet me at the door talking to me, having a conversation about what he did while I was gone. I'll miss him running and leaping up on the bed and immediately throwing himself onto his back purring and wanting to be petted. Honestly, I'll just miss him. He was one of a kind.

From that first timid look from around the couch to the last minutes in my arms, he was always this regal presence. I'll miss you Homie. You made a mark with not only me but others as well. No amount of time will ever erase the memory of a companion like you. Until we meet again... XO


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