A tortoise kitten found begging for food behind a restaurant in Taos, New Mexico, Echo was a tough and tender little one from the start.
For once, I was early to meet a friend and said I would visit an animal shelter “just to look.” I walked in, and Echo was in a cage at shoulder level next to the entryway door. As I walked into the room, she reached out and pawed at my shoulder. Three seconds. Literally three seconds, that’s all it took. I looked at her, I looked at the volunteer, and said, “Can I adopt her?”
Two days later, after I cleared the adoption process, and we made it through a very yowly ride through the canyon between Taos and Angel Fire, she was very apprehensive at home. I remember she hid under a couch for at least a couple of days. I tried to coax her out with food and by talking to her while laying on the floor. But eventually I decided to give her time. It might have been a couple of weeks later when I was laying on my bed, watching a show and all of the sudden she jumped up on the bed and again onto my stomach. From then on, we became inseparable.
A Maine Coon with bobcat-like feathery tips on her ears and a grand and fluffy bold walk, she braved many adventures.
She moved with me via road trips from New Mexico to Eugene, Oregon, and then to the Chicago suburbs. We lived in three apartments in Chicago, a house in the South Side and our home in Galena.
She hardly complained at each move, except when we stayed with friends and my mom who also had cats. But her way of solving that “problem” (in her mind) was by rounding up the other kitties and running them into a corner so she could have each place to herself. So we learned then that she would always be her best as an only kitty.
And as an only kitty she was the best friend a person could ask for.
Often waiting for me at the door, she “meched,” her Yiddish meow, as I walked in, seemingly updating me on her happenings and asking me about mine, and probably asking, “Where’s the chicken?”
She wound around my feet and followed me everywhere in the house. As she grew older, I became accustomed to waiting to close a door to make sure I left time for her to follow me. And if I didn’t see her for a while and thought I might not, eventually, I’d hear a scratch at the door or she pushed it open. She pulled doors open, too.
When I relaxed at night, she was either on my feet or nuzzled on my side.
Echo was the greatest kitty sister to my daughter. Echo was the first to hear her cry, and she followed us to her room to help her calm down. She allowed my daughter the room to learn how to be a good sister to her, too.
She became a great companion to my husband, who took excellent of her.
Through many migraines, Echo stayed nearby and hardly left until I was better.
She sat next to me while I wrote hundreds, and possibly thousands of stories and other pieces. Sometimes, she told me it was break time by putting her paw on my hand while I typed. I have worked from home for most of the last five years. And, of course, being home during the Pandemic has upped our time here to an even more intense level.
In recent months, she was my constant audience while I played the violin and viola and trained to become a Tai Chi teacher. She loved listening to my teachers, too. During some Qi Gong exercises, we make the “sssss” and “shhh” sounds, which was a funny thing for us. Somehow along the years, I realized that in addition to coming to me when I whistled, she also seemed to think that the “sss” and “shhh” sounds were some sort of cry or high-pitched call. During these exercises, she became so concerned she tried to climb me while I was standing. One time, everyone in a class had their mics on and she seemed to think there was something very awry.
She was so tough to the very end and let us do everything possible to try to keep her going. We tried so hard through the seemingly sudden shock. Her rear legs went from weak on Friday to paralyzed over the weekend, and as the days went on she became weaker and weaker. As she faded she looked angelically beautiful and peaceful with her downy soft fur in the cascading sunlight. She heard birds and saw seeds blowing in the air. The very end wasn’t all beautiful, though, as we were all blubbering messes and still are. The final hour will remain one of the worst in my life.
I honestly feel so wired to have Echo everywhere that I am that I don’t know how to be in this house without her. I’m lucky to have had such a beautiful, tough and generous kitty. I love my Echo so very much. I am grateful for every “mech,” purr on my side, paw on my hand, beg for for food, concerned look, playful toss, head butts on my computer, tail chases in the tub, peaceful moments in the windowsill, and so much more. This doesn’t seem like enough. But all I can say now is thank you for being my kitty. I am honored to have been your person.
Grief Resources, Support Groups & Counseling
If you are having a hard time coping with the loss of your beloved pet, please take a look at these resources recommended by Tesia with Jackson Galaxy‘s wonderful team:
Lap of Love: https://www.lapoflove.com/community/Pet-Loss-Support
The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement: https://www.aplb.org
Thank you to everyone who has reached out about Echo. Each kind word means a lot and helps my family and I on our journey.