Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nine Lives

The three of us were excitedly rushing around Sunday morning, trying to get out the door to a mission farewell of a darling young man in the big city. Ahead of us, Dean was barely in the garage when he suddenly rushed back in with a terrified look on his face. Not that we hadn't been expecting this for quite some time...Dean sadly informed us that Luga Luga the family cat had passed away in the night.

It was just about 18 years ago, Lawyer Girl Dione was a fresh faced little kindergartner at Wilson Elementary.  She eagerly approached each new school day with excitement and energy.  The latest assignment was Kindergarten Pet Day.  It was simple...bring in your favorite pet to share with the class.  There was only one problem, our young little family didn't have any pets...yet!

Luga Luga as a kitten
Have no fear...Unni (Dione's grandmother) is here. And not to worry, Unni had a new baby kitty she would "loan" us for the assignment. 

The big day arrived and little Dione proudly shared "Unni's" kitten with her fellow students. I loaded Dione, her Daddy, and the kitten in the car for the return trip to Unni's. Kindergarten pet day came and went, but the kitten didn't.

She stayed...and had been with us ever since. 

Luga Luga stuck as her name because our little girls couldn't say "Here kitty kitty" but said "Here Luga Luga" instead.  It just sort of stuck after that.

One winter while we were living in Denver, Luga Luga got lost.  We thought she was gone forever. Ten year old Dione wrote this little poem...

Memories For Luga-Luga

Luga may be gone
She may have left us for good.
But whomever's property she may be on
I will love and remember her as I would.

Now we most likely will have more mice
We will all always miss her.
Though it would be nice
Again to feel her fur.

But we must go on like everyone else
Even though we are missing a family member.
Even though my heart is about to melt
I for her will remember.

Remember her beautiful color
Remember her wonderful eyes.
Remember how Cassandra thought no cat could be duller
Remember how she wasn't very wise.

When she decided to jump down the window well
And of course she couldn't get back out.
But already I can tell
That we are all going to pout.

If she could just come home to our little dome
Luga you will get so much glory.
If you just come home
And tell your story.

The Garlick girls with Luga Luga's kittens.
Luga Luga spent 6 weeks living in the Colorado wilds on her own warding off coyotes and who knows what else. She came home, but we never did know her story...just one of her nine lives. Her last few years were quiet, spending her days resting on a tattered old pillow in the garage.  No longer the avid mouser she once was, Luga Luga seemed content to have her head patted about once a month.

Sunday morning we took a minute and gathered up each other, tears flowing. Believe me...we know Luga Luga was just a family cat. But at that moment...the grief was more than losing a treasured pet. It triggered an avalanche of pain and grief in each one of us. I'm convinced we are in for a lifetime of events that will tear at the scars on our hearts.  Chet and I discussed how easy it would be to guard yourself against this pain and never let anything or anyone inside your heart. But who wants to live such an empty life!

Later that evening we would lay her to rest under a favorite pine tree next to Congo the treasured pooch.

I wonder...are there cats in heaven?


  1. Holy cow, I had forgotten about Luga's kittens. I remember being freaked out because we didn't realize she was pregnant until she was birthing babies. What a terrifying thought!

    Also, I love my hair in that pic. What a fashionista I was, and I'm so glad you have proof of it!

  2. So sorry about Luga Luga. Cats certainly do become part of the family.

  3. Lisa, I've been lurking for a little while, visiting from Segullah. I just wanted to share this quote, one you probably have already found in your journey with grief, but one that has meant much to me since the loss of my brother in a tragic accident this last summer. It's hard to make ourselves vulnerable again and again, isn't it?

    "There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."
    ~C. S. Lewis

    Thanks for your ongoing story of courage and love. It means a lot.

  4. I didn't even know you had a cat!!! Seems like Izzy has kind of taken center stage. :) Love the picture of the girls...the hair, oh, the hair!

  5. Sniff. I'm so sorry about your sweet kitty. Thank you again for making the effort to come to Salt Lake.

    I too have wondered about bringing pets into our home because of the ache their loss can bring to our hearts, but you are right, who would want to live such an empty life? I love Kerri's C.S Lewis quote. I have a very sad baby chick story to tell you sometime. :(

    I for one, am looking forward to the joyful new life this week will bring to your family.

    I love you so.

  6. I wish our 4 legged friends could live forever. They are most definitely a part of our families.