I loved that she was tiny and fuzzy and black. I loved that her paws looked too small for her body. I loved that her teeth were razor sharp like her claws when she pounced on my head as I lounged on the couch.
I loved that Hubs went to the shelter to get her as a gift for me. She was mine (especially when she destroyed something or needed a bath.)
Over time, she became Hubs' cat, too. Like most men, he pretended to be bothered by the cat of the house, but he was always the one who fed her in the morning. She greeted him as soon as his feet hit the floor.
Sometimes I caught him letting her curl up on the couch right next to him. At night, she always crept on the bed, careful to walk all around Hubs and not on him, for fear he'd shew her off.
She moved with us many times, fussing from her carrier the entire way. When the car would stop, she thought the trip was over. Cats aren't good with time. They only know that they hate where they are and they want to get to wherever it is that you are forcing them to go.
When I found out I was pregnant, she was there. She sprawled across my tummy as it grew. She purred loudly as she always did and I knew that somehow the baby inside could hear her.
The day finally came when my tummy couldn't grow any more (believe me) and Daughter was born. Maggie was there when we welcomed her home.
When we laid Daughter on her blanket on the floor, we told Maggie to stay off of it. She always laid right on the edge and slept as our daughter slept. When Daughter cried and I didn't hear it, Maggie clawed at the nursery door until I went to the room to check on the baby. (I can hear her in her condescending cat voice saying,"Human Mothers. Hmph!")
Maggie patiently tolerated the tug of toddler hands, the playful imagination of a preschooler, and the pet grooming attempts of a kindergartner. She listened to stories and jokes and heartbreaks that I, as a mother, will probably never know. She kept the feet of a sick child warm, and nestled against the tired body of a weary mom.
She annoyed me to no end.
She stole and chewed all the curly ribbon she could find. She shredded the furniture. She scared nearly every kennel worker we ever met. (She is probably on some kind of underground list.)
She climbed in the dryer on top of clean clothes. She crawled inside box lids of board games. She ran up the attic stairs and walked around on the insulation. She found a torn place in the covering of the box springs and crawled inside. Her tiny cat paws pressed against the fabric of the box springs as I tried to coax her out with catnip.
She attacked the Christmas tree. She slept on top of wrapped presents. She peed on my husband's clothes, on bath rugs, or any other thing she willed to mark.
But, I loved her.
I loved her picky, rude, better-than-thou, tail-in-the-air attitude.
She was Maggie.
And after a brief fight with cancer, we said good-bye to her. Her last days were filled with all the Medleys she could eat, all the attention and love she could stand, and all the bath rugs I could keep clean. She slept and purred and in the end, she went out with the same cat attitude that made me fall in love with her.
When it was time, I stroked her face, the only place we were ever allowed to pet, and told her it was okay to let it go. It was time and that I knew she was ready to leave.
And when it was all over, I felt nothing but grief and loss and peace all at the same time.
She gave our family thirteen years of hairballs and furniture repairs and apologies to kennel staff. She was the most irritating, sassy and loving creature I've ever known.
She was my Maggie and she will always have a warm place to sleep in my heart.