Bitter to Receive

On the morning of July 3, 2024, our dearly beloved Lucifer, the cuddliest demon cat in the world, lost his battle with age, arthritis and as we discovered at the end, cancer. We knew he was getting older by the day, we knew his arthritis was slowing him down, but the cancer was a surprise – and a terrible one.

He just wasn’t himself when we got back from ALA late Monday night. It seemed like he perked up seeing us home, but that perk was brief and by the next evening it was clear that he wasn’t comfortable and couldn’t really get around under his own power.

Today he’s gone. I want to believe to the Rainbow Bridge, playing – or more likely sitting on the sidelines looking dignified as he always did – riding herd on the beloveds who went before him; Freddie, Mellie, LaZorra, Sophie, Erasmus, Zade, Jennyfur and my dearest Licorice.

Lucifer was the first cat I’ve had since Licorice who chose me – and not my husband – as his person. I’ve loved every single cat in between, but Lucifer was special, a heartfelt and now heartbreaking memory of just how marvelous it is to be loved so much by a cat who could – and once upon a time did – do fine on his own but choose to give his heart to a human instead of remaining a solitary soul.

More than one vet has told me that cats with demonic or evil-seeming names are generally sweethearts, while cats who have sweetheart names tend to be, well, less than sweet. Lucifer certainly wasn’t named for his demonic nature – but rather for his ability to deceive. The friend who rescued him from his feral life believed that Lucifer was a)female and b)in need of neutering when in fact he was the opposite in both cases.

When Erasmus lost his battle with cancer twelve years ago, the post about his passing was titled Not All Tears Are Evil, a reference to the parting at the Grey Havens at the end of The Lord of the Rings.

The title of this post also refers to The Lord of the Rings, specifically to the appendices regarding the death of Aragorn, when Arwen proclaims that “if this (death) is the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive.”

When it comes to cats, the tragedy is always that our lives are so long, and theirs are so short. And it is bitter to receive. Lucifer will never sleep on my heart again. But he will sleep in it forever.

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