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September 12, 2005: A tribute, of sorts

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I feel, now that she is gone, as if everything around me is rushing back into focus. It�s not relief, but more of finality in knowing that, as much as I was dreading it, it is finally over. Since we returned from DragonCon I barely touched my knitting because one of her favorite spots to sit was on my chest when I was at the computer (requiring me to lean back pretty far � not the most comfortable position for me, but one does a lot to keep a sick little kitty happy), so I spent a lot of time upstairs, poking at my computer and mostly just holding her as much as she would let me. I am starting to realize that waiting for Allegra to die has been, mentally, a much longer process than I was aware. You tell yourself that somehow, knowing it is coming makes it easier, but really, I�m not so sure that it does. I�m not sure there is anything that can make it easier.

She was always a bit of a wonky kind of cat, due likely to extremely poor health during the first 8 months of her life (she had a sibling with failure to thrive, so I assume some of her odd quirks, and her occasional lack of balance, were due to something not quite right in her development), and one of her main things was that she had this habit of going into little periods of being annoyed and snippy � we referred to them as her snits, and it was not uncommon, back when she was healthy, for her to have one at least once a day. Most of the time these would be marked by her racing around the house, half-yelling, half-growling under her breath, tearing up and down the stairs and various cat trees, and generally letting the world know she was in a mood. Most of the other cats knew enough to stay out of her way, although occasionally we�d see Rosie following her with a look of fascination on her face (much like the look she gets when she follows the Roomba around, come to think of it). We humans also learned to stay out of her way when she was in one of her moods, although sometimes it was kind of fun to waggle a finger or a hand around her head when she was in full snit mode, just to watch her roll around and yell at it. I also knew to warn people who tried to pet her and didn�t know all her rules for where she could and could not be touched � she was wonderfully soft and pretty and prone to exposing her tummy to tempt the unwary to touch her there, mere seconds before she would then expose all five pointy ends to let you know that her tummy was most definitely off limits.

So bearing all of that in mind, one of my favorite memories of her - and one of the best stories I can tell about what kind of funny little cat she was - happened a few years ago. There are two doors to our computer room � both on the same wall (one leads to the hall and the other to the Jack-and-Jill bathroom), with just enough space in between for a cat tree. Basically you cannot get out of the computer room without passing by the cat tree, and the way it�s set up, there�s no way to avoid exiting either door without coming into cat paw-grabbing range at some point in the process. A few years back Richard�s family had come up to visit, and at one point his mom and his little sister were upstairs by themselves in the computer room, checking something online. The rest of us were sitting downstairs, chatting, when we heard a loud and laughing �Help!�, so went up to investigate. Turns out Allegra had decided it was time for a full-fledged snit, and every time one of them approached either door she start doing her funny little yell-growl, and swinging her paws. Richard and I knew her well enough to know it was all just a big act, but his mom and sister didn�t, and were basically trapped there by this tiny, floppy cat.

Once we stopped laughing and could move again, I �rescued� them by distracting Allegra with head scritches so they could slip past her unnoticed. She would come out of her snits as easily as she slipped into them, and it's this sort of thing which was the reason why she was one of my favorites.

If there is a place where we all go when we die, I would like to think that she is there, lying in wait for any unwary newcomers, rolling around on strategically placed cat trees, offering a running, trilled commentary on everything she is doing, daring people to pet her tummy, and maybe sometimes, curling up on someone�s chest � someone who understands just how she likes to sit and who doesn�t mind having to type with only one hand; someone who maybe had to leave their own wonky little cat behind them and so is willing to let her settle in, and just be.

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