One day in 2007, our neighbor, Annette, brought home an orange tabby kitten she named Copper. That’s him in the fountain. About a week later, she brought us an orange tabby kitten that she’d found somewhere. We named him Simba.
Copper had copper colored eyes and Simba’s are green. Otherwise, they were hard to tell apart, particularly at dusk or when one of them darted into the house in search of catnip or treats. Or if were laying on the floor together.
Over the years, Copper dropped by frequently for visits. He knew we always have catnip and treats. Quite often, Simba and Copper were on our front porch, sunning themselves together, and when I came out, they would indulge in catnip and treats like a couple of siblings. What can I say, these enjoyed getting high together.
Copper was accepting of everyone. He wasn’t ever afraid of Noah, who is many times his size, or of Megan’s dog, Nika. And he lived with two dogs. Whenever Annette and her family go away for vacations or a long weekend, I take care of her animals – and vice versa. Copper usually followed me out the door when I left and then would come over to our place to visit. His roaming area was the yards of our two houses, which are side by side.
This afternoon, Rob was coming home from Publix and saw a bunch of kids on bikes by the side of the road, across the street from Annette’s house. She was just coming out her front door. He knew something had happened, but couldn’t see anything because the kids blocked his view. He came hurrying into the house and shouted, “I think something happened to Copper.”
I ran outside and saw Annette on her knees on the grass, sobbing hysterically and huddled over Copper’s body. I raced over to her and started crying, too. His body was still warm, so it had happened within the last several minutes. Annette picked him up, cradling him like a baby, both of us weeping, and we walked across the street to her place and went into her bedroom.
She sat in a rocking chair with Copper’s body in her lap, and I hurried into her utility room for a towel. Megan, who is home for the holidays, came over and we rifled through gift boxes for one in which Copper could be buried. We found one and when Annette set him inside it, I sprinkled catnip over it.
There is something so terribly raw and painful about losing a beloved pet this way. But awhile later, I was taking the dogs to the dog park and saw the most incredible rainbow and snapped a photo of it.
I called Annette and told her to hurry outside to see it. Megan and Rob were on their way to the garage to pick up her car and she took a picture of it, too, and texted it to Annette: Copper is saying hi! That rainbow symbolized hope.
This evening, Annette came by and asked if it would be okay if they buried Copper between our two houses. We decided on a spot under the tree he used to climb to get to our roof.Here he is, doing cat-aerobics!
Other neighbors turned out to help dig the grave and to say their good-byes.
RIP, Copper. You are already missed!