by Lisa Johnston
I adopted Winter on June 17, 1999. He was a beautiful white Maine Coon with bright blue eyes and a little gray patch on his head. He was no older than three months when he came to live with us. He was a gift to my kitten, Whiskey, who was the same age. He was so scared when I brought him into the house, but Whiskey happily greeted him. Winter would not come out of the corner for three days. Then he finally realized that Whiskey, my husband and I were his new family.
Winter was such a beautiful cat. He was always skinny but really tall. He could jump higher than anyone. He had a tail that went on forever. Whiskey and Winter were the best of friends, and never left each other’s side. Winter followed Whiskey everywhere. He was this big cat with a squeaky voice. We quickly learned that the only way to get him to eat was to yell “Food Food” because the lady who bred him did that. So his many nicknames began, starting with “Mr. Foo-Foodie” and “Bow-Boney”.
After Winter, we adopted 4 more cats which he accepted – he was like their father figure. He was always so sweet. He had this thing that he loved to eat string. He use to shake when you gave him cheese and sour cream. He loved to go into the bathroom and be petted. He loved to sleep under the covers between me and my husband. Sometimes at night him and his little brother Weston would curl up together on the bed and sleep all night in each others arms. It’s hard to think of him as gone.
Winter died at the age of 3 years and 7 months on December 14th, 2002. He had an illness called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. It affects the left ventricle in the heart and causes blood clots. It’s hard to diagnose, since there are not many symptoms. We never knew he was sick. He didn’t act sick. One night he had a cough, but we thought it was only a hairball. He was running around with his brothers and then he jumped on the window sill, then collapsed in mid-jump. His eyes filled with fright and he landed on the rug. His leg twitched and that was it; within 20-30 seconds, he was gone.
I freaked. We were all just watching TV and, bam, he was gone. It was too much to handle. He lay on the floor until my husband got a blanket. As he lay there, I saw his best friend in the whole world, Whiskey, give him a last kiss on the head like he was saying goodbye. I lost it.
We brought him outside, where the clear sky was full of stars. It was beautiful. Then I saw a shooting star. I believe that was Winter’s spirit going to Heaven.
A memory came to me when I looked at Whiskey: Once, Winter, Whiskey,and Weston went outside. Winter came back after a few minutes, but we couldn’t find the other two. I put Winter on the leash and brought back outside. He meowed and left his scent everywhere so Whiskey and Weston could find their way home.
And now we light a candle for Winter every night so he can find his way home.
Whiskey is okay. He looks for his lost friend everywhere, and he wants to be with us all the time. It breaks my heart to see him hurt, but I know it will get better with time. Someday we will all be together again and that will be my heaven. We love you Winter, always!!!
Lisa Johnston posted her story on the Grieving.com