We are in the process of packing up our house right now. Of course with that comes finding some old things and deciding on keeping or tossing. Today my wife found one of those tear jerking things! She is having a good cry tonight, over a great friend!
When I met Tiana in 2009 there was another man in her life. Well I am sure there were a few vying to be in her life. But this man was a true piece of competition. Tiana’s man was long, elegant with piercing eyes and was a silky black. While he stood a mere foot and a half tall, his hold on my wife to be was strong, and he was tough.
The man in her life was a fantastic black cat. She had acquired the cat, Kweli, during a previous relationship. Kweli had been the one constant in her life, and was her best friend. The cat had seen her through some tough times and had given her the love she needed on tough days.
When I first met Tiana we were friends. Kweli seemed to be aware of the plutonic nature of this relationship’s early days, and paid me little attention. He came to check me out and watched for a while but he felt I wasn’t a threat and moved on. He kept an eye on me I am sure. As my relationship with Tiana grew, Kweli figured my motives out. I think here is where he and I came to a head. At first Kweli was just not interested in me, and he watched as we talked in Tiana’s couch or in her bed. He was giving me the cold shoulder.
The first couple of nights I stayed with Tiana, Kweli was not impressed. First of all, who was I to wreck his home? Also he took serious issue with the fact that I was in his spot on the bed. See Kweli’s spot lay under the covers, against Tiana’s hip. Now there was some fat white guy in his spot, cuddling his woman. He was not impressed. He sat on the window, his eyes piercing into my back, oh it was on like donkey kong.
For the next little while, every night I was there, he gave me a dirty look and turned on his woman. Hoping that not coming to bed would make her realize it was time to get rid of the fat guy in the bed. I am sure his frustration was growing with each passing day.
Then one day something weird happened, Kweli relented. It is like he understood I loved Tiana as much as he did. We could share the job of keeping her happy. So here I was on the bed one night and he jumped up beside me and even let me rub behind his ear for a second. Not too long though, lets be clear I had to earn his respect. Over the next couple of days Kweli and I became friends. Finally he returned to the bed sleeping near by. I think he was also trying to show the little dog (Bella), who was acquired around the same time as I was, that Kweli was still alpha male. Finally it got to the point where him and I were totally cool, he was fine rubbing his head against me and letting me pet him, he knew I was getting to really enjoy his company too.
Then the moment of full acceptance happened. I woke up one early morning, thinking I would run to starbucks for a coffee before Tiana woke. Then I realized my hip felt warm and soft. I looked under the covers and there was Kweli, between Tiana and I curled up against me, under the covers. It was the moment he decided we could all share, one happy family. I didn’t rush out to starbucks. I decided to pet Kweli for a while instead.
When it came time to move our relationship had become pretty strong. Tiana had help in the move, the boys from our hockey team had offered to help, as had I of course. The issue being we actually had kept our relationship a secret from the hockey team, and done a great job of it. We didn’t want it to become a distraction from our professional work at the rink. I was ferrying back and forth with the U-Haul truck, and on one trip had taken a few players with me. I had young men named J.J., Ryne, Joel and Jordan with me (sorry for any I forgot, we really appreciated your help). We moved the last things to the U-Haul, I let the boys destroy a bed that was garbage, clean out the last few things and now it was time to get Kweli. Kweli was in a bathroom for his own safety at this point, we didn’t want him to run out the open door. The thing is, as we know, Kweli doesn’t like change or new people. So the boys were excited to see this black cat and to pet it. The cat was agitated and hissed a little. Only J.J. was brave enough to try and trap the little guy and carry him out. So in went J.J. to grab Kweli, big mistake. Kweli wouldn’t let any strangers near and J.J. lost skin in the process. The boys explained to me Tiana would have to get the killer cat. I thanked them, told them to meet me at McDonald’s with the U-Haul, I would be right behind them. As soon as everyone was gone, it was just me and Kweli. I had no problems grabbing my new friend and cuddle buddy, and got him into the truck in mere minutes. He didn’t enjoy the drive but he was fine with me. The boys were in awe, of course none of them knew that Kweli had spent a lot of time against my hip lately.
At the new house Kweli continued to be a great cat. A friend who always seemed to know when you needed a cuddle. The warm body under the covers late at night. He was always around us to enjoy our company.
In late March something came up with the man who both Tiana and I loved. He wasn’t eating as well and had thrown up a few times. I thought it was normal, cats get hairballs. Tiana worried. I will never forget talking her into waiting a day, it was a mistake akin to J.J. being brave. A day later we couldn’t find the little guy, he didn’t answer to his name (he always did) or to the shaking of his treat jar. He was nowhere, the problem is we knew he was in the house. I finally found him hidden far under the basement stairs, and he wasn’t coming out. I was struck with fear, know this couldn’t be good for my outgoing friend. I rammed my fist through the drywall preventing me from getting to him and got him out. We took him to the vet, who referred us immediately to the pet hospital. It turned out Kweli was in kidney failure. We would spend the next two days hoping to save our best friend. He was in rough shape, the information they collected in tests suggested kidney levels registering some bad signs. In fact the doctor was certain he was suffering from chronic kidney disease, she felt there is no other way he would still be alive. At midnight one night the doctor called us, she had stayed late to watch Kweli. I answered and she told us there was nothing they could do and that we would have to euthanize our friend to stop the severe pain he was experiencing.
We drove to the emergency where he was. For the last time in our life we held our friend, his beautiful black body, tired and sore from the last few days. His piercing eyes looking sad and in pain. We held him and petted him, said our good byes through tears streaming like waterfalls. Here I was, a mere five months after meeting him, heart broken to be losing him. It was tough, he had really become an important family member. The doctor returned when we were ready. While I held my shaking wife, and petted my friend the doctor did what has to be the toughest job in the world. While he passed peacefully, we continued to cry and let him when we were ready.
A little while later Tiana asked for me to do something to help with here closure. She wanted to go to the SPCA to see if she could help fill the hole with a friend. Not that day, no she wanted to take a first step, she needed to share her love with a furry friend. It was serendipitous, as just as we got by there a litter of husky puppies was put out. We found Kaia that day, and added her to our family, her love has been a great fit, not a replacement or trade for Kweli, but an amazing new pet to love, something everyone needs.
Kweli was a great friend, I really miss him, even though our friendship was short, it was very special. I am sure my wife is frustrated that I don’t cry when we get a sad reminder, but it doesn’t make it easy to be without him. He was a good man, and I know I wouldn’t be married to Tiana today without his approval!