I wish I had a better memory on days like this. I wish I could remember why I obsessively started asking for a cat or why I decided on a Maine Coon. Dad had started dragging me to cat shows I know was a part of it and I knew asking for another dog was getting me nowhere so I went with the biggest cat breed I could find. Marm didn’t let me down. Smaller than her champion brothers got, she was still at 20 pounds most of her adult life. I marvel at how little she once was. Sadly, I don’t have any of her kitten photos digitized – they’re all at home in Marm’s album on my shelf. There are the early pictures, before she grew into her ears and when she would still chase her cat toys around the house. Then there are the middle years, Marm at her best, finding all sorts of interesting places to sleep. It was one of the things she was best at, along with eating, getting into things she shouldn’t and whining constantly to my mother. She also had a knack for choosing the most inconvenient times to want attention. She was my study buddy in high school. Call me crazy but I swear she knew French for a while there. She listened as I read aloud Le Petit Prince or tried out sentences for my latest sujet. She was my companion while I stayed up working on projects that should have been done long before the night before it was due. She laid with me when I was sick and always seemed to know when I was down. She watched movies with me, sharing popcorn with me and never failed to be there when I needed her. As long as it was convenient for her of course. She was queen of all she surveyed. We all danced to her tune.

There were certain things you could always count on with Marm around. One, it wouldn’t be quiet. She had a voice and she knew how to use it. Mom always said she was whining – I think she just had one of those voices and was a bit of a chatterbox. Two, if there was paper on the floor, on the couch, on the table, she would be on it. Three, if you recently got up from the couch or the easy chair, she would be in it when you got back. The incredible thing was, you just sat somewhere else then. To move her was unthinkable. Four, she had the look of distain ready at all times. No one could look haughtier than my cat could. I swear she had it down to an art. Five, if I was planning to give her a bath, she would mysteriously disappear. I am so sad I never took a picture of her looking like a drowned rat in the tub but I could never seem to do such an injustice to her. Six, if I had a book in my hands, she was in my lap. I think she heard a lot of stories because of that (I like to think Austen was her favorite but I think am projecting). I like to read aloud anyway and she seemed to like to listen. Seven, for a house cat, she loved our back porch. It was her outdoors and her goal was to become as dirty as she could in as little time possible. Eight, she couldn’t hold a grudge to save her soul. She was never very welcoming when I’d come back from being away at school. She’d ignore me when I first came in, wouldn’t look at me when I’d scoop her up but she’d saunter in as I unpacked, getting into trouble as usual and then, the second I sat down, she’d be on top of me. Nine, Miss Priss she was, no matter what. Looking like a drowned rat after her baths, she’d still sit up and glare at me as I dried her. Even a soaking wet Marm had her dignity. Ten, she wasn’t perfect but she was Marm and she was one of my best friends who was always there when I needed her to be, no matter what. She has been one of the things I have missed most when I am away from home and it never occurred to think one day she wouldn’t be there.

Marm left us on Wednesday of this past week very suddenly. She had cancer and we didn’t know until it was too late. My little Marmalade Blaze of Big Tree Cattery is gone and my last memory of her is sitting at the top of Grammy’s staircase, front paws crossed, looking all the world like a queen surveying her kingdom. And so she was, because for eleven years, she ruled our house and I know the next time I go home, there will be a something missing because we’ve lost our queen.

Daddy has done such a beautiful job of taking her picture over the years but I wanted to share one of my favorites. She had a knack for mischief especially on Christmas morning. I hope, wherever she is, she hasn’t lost it. Goodbye Baby Girl, I’ll miss you.