by Torch Nebor
Bubba the Cat dies suddenly. Chain follows within a year.
|Chain Golden entered her sixty-fifth year cradling the dying Bubba the Cat in her lap. Her beloved succumbing to a massive stroke.
They had enjoyed the warmth of a late summer morning together. Her, her cup of pine needle tea. Him, a bowl of dried cat food with bacon fried crisp and adorning the bowl's rim.
Bubba looked off into space for a moment and then laid on his side as if to nap.
"You okay, boy?" asked Chain, a look of concern crossed her face. His near collapse reminded her of the first time she had held him in her arms so many years before.
Bubba closed his eyes and seemed to doze.
Chain sensed something wasn't right, but he was breathing. His large belly rising and falling as his eyes closed. Let him rest, she thought to herself.
The thin trail of camp fire smoke was disappearing as fast as the life in Bubba's body. Chain wept silently as her friend and hunting companion of nearly two decades sank deeper into the coma that had overtaken him. An old cat nearer to thirty years than twenty-five.
"My little boy. My little Bubba boy. Oh, why does this happen now?"
It was Chain's 65th birthday. Their birthday as far as she was concerned. They were going to celebrate with a picnic lunch on the creek followed by looking for rats in rotting logs. Bubba always enjoyed a good rat hunt down in the woods. The pursuit. The victory of a small, screaming creature between powerful jaws of broken teeth.
"We had such a good winter planned,didn't we?" Chain's grief rose through a throat tight with emotion as tears trailed down her pale cheeks one after the other. She sniffed back tears while she stroked the face of her best friend. As gently as she could. He laid limp in her arms. Eyes half-opened. He couldn't hear her anymore. She looked at him through eyes pained with the fear of an impending loss.
Oh, God. Don't take him. He's my very best friend. Not now. I need him.
A forgotten cup of tea lay spilled on the ground where she had dropped it when she witnessed her cat rise up suddenly with a gasp and then fall. For a brief moment, their eyes met and she felt the final goodbye pass between them unspoken.
A scream of dread, of fear of being alone again. Bubba never heard it. He closed his large golden gray eyes and slid off the picnic table and to the ground with a thud. The massive stroke filled his skull with blood.
Carefully lifted up into her arms as if he was made from the most delicate sheet of ice, she carefully checking to see if he was still breathing. His chest rose slightly as the first of many tears that day began to fill her old eyes and track down her sun-spotted face.
Disconcerted morning. Nothing made sense. Everything focused on the dread of a final goodbye.
The cool of the pleasant morning passed into the warmth of the noon day as clouds swirled overhead building and growing cold. Large white clouds log jammed in the sky. They grew dark with frustration where cold air met warm on the western horizon towards Vicksburg. Warm, moist Gulf of Mexico air collided with a cold front over the Mid-West and a storm was brewing that was rarely seen even for Oklahoma.
Poor Oklahoma. Three earthquakes last week. The last toppled what the first shook off of foundations. When Bubba had felt his first earthquake, he meowed in fear and ran towards Chain in a long stride gallop. Jumping into her arms, she sat down and consoled the trembling cat.
It's okay, Bubba. Just a little earthquake. They don't get so bad this far south. It'll be okay.
The green and red leaves on the sweet gums trees around Camp Sapphire danced as warm and cool air swirled through camp. The wall of the tipi was buffeted, but held firmly. Red and yellow leaves ripped from trees preparing for winter slid down the tipi wall, but the sight would remain unseen by Chain Golden.
Chain stood for a moment and held Bubba like a new born making sure he was still breathing. His half-closed eyes held small tears. She held him close to her bosom and whispered that she loved him and for him not to hang on when she realized what was happening to him.
Let go, my precious little one. Don't suffer.
She couldn't speak, her throat too tight with dread of the nearing moment of their final goodbye.
She moved, but didn't know what to do. Rocked him like a new born, so carefully as not to wake him. I love you, boy. I'll miss you, boy.
Chain paced for a moment cooing to her dying cat as his claws ever so slightly flexed. Nearly tripped over into her smoldering fire pit. She held him close to her as her knee twisted and gave way. She couldn't hold back her emotions as she sat there in the growing loneliness she dreaded. Sobbing into Bubba's body held close to her face. Their day had been cruelly interrupted and something inside of Chain began to die as well.
Early autumn had promised a good hunting season. So many squirrels. More deer seen, too, at their hidden food plots in the deep dark forest near Camp Sapphire.
Chain and Bubba had made plans. There would be good hunting this year. The would store all sorts of food for the upcoming winter.
The days of smoke had been good ones as Chain taught herself to play a homemade banjo while smoke lifted from the vent drying out the red and white flesh they needed for low water and a hard winter. With a pig trap, she had killed two small pigs and smoked the tender, salted flesh. Bubba's favorite food was bacon, next to tender rat. Summer had been prosperous, so winter would surely be as well.
There had been an unusual happiness to their camp. He played. She whistled as she worked. They sat under the stars at night and watched falling stars. Rat tail stars, as Bubba had named them.
Dried grains, dried fruits, dried seeds, dried flesh of fish and beast. Chain and Bubba prospered that year as they never had all the years they had lived at Camp Sapphire.
Chain with her hunting and fishing and acorn and herb gathering plans. Bubba with his plans to eat the bounty the land gave them. They had planned another winter together. At least one more winter together though both were getting well into old age. Hard work shaving off years, but they didn't mind. They had each other. Life was hard, but good.
Bubba had lain in the green pastures near their tipi and wondered what was to come. Chain nearby prepping their boat for the rise of the rivers. He could feel his joints stiffening. I am getting so old. But, it's okay. Chain will feed me. Carry me. Love me. We've been through too much together to abandon each other now.
Chain carried him a lot more than she use to. Carried him to set traps. Carried him to the boat. Carried him around camp. Carried him inside the hunting and survival store when she needed supplies. The big man behind the counter remembered the old cat and offered him treats of fat or pieces of turkey.
Bubba looked forward to warm evenings in the tipi while the heavy frosts covered everything around them outside. Chain would either be working on a project or reading by the firelight from the fire pit. He still had his bobcat skin to lay on and play with to his and her amusement. He would snuggle next to her on chilly nights after she lifted him into bed. Too hard to jump up now. Made his hips hurt. She would stroke his soft belly and tell him she loved him deeply. His paw in her hand. A little squeeze. He would purr his own content till both slept warm and well fed with firelight dancing off the tipi wall and the ozan around the tipi bed.
She sighed. Years heaped upon her soul as she felt his body grow cold. No, I won't think about anything else right now. Can't see a future anymore. No sense in planning for anything. Her words were choked in her throat. Her sorrow born of the loss growing colder in her arms. Grief. Much grief.
Chain carefully turned his head and opened and looked deeply into Bubba's eyes. His pupils were fixed and dilated. He was barely breathing and his body felt cold to the touch. He felt dead. His motionless eyes looked off into space a million miles away. He was slipping from their life, but not from her heart.
The struggle to remain calm was a fierce battle in her mind that ran wild with ways to stop this from happening.
Oh, God. This hurts so bad.
There was nothing she could do. Fresh tears. Fresh aches in her throat as she wanted to scream her anguish, her fear of being all alone. She wanted no other companion. She wanted no other friend. She wanted no other cat, she told God holding the dying cat in her arms.
Had this happened twenty years earlier, there might have been a sliver of hope. But they lived in a dying America today. Bad outlaws, bad roads, bad times. No pity for old women with dying cats in their arms. Bubba's golden hour of stroke survival would be well over before she would make it into the nearest city limits that might have a veternarian's office open on the weekends.
The nearest veterinarian was over one hundred miles away down bad or destroyed roads. She didn't have access to the cash necessary anyway. Everybody demanded cash now unless you had taken the mark on the right hand. Chain refused. Even today, she would refuse even if it meant saving the life of her companion Bubba the Cat. Chain wasn't going to let even a deep grief get in the way of her eternity.
Perhaps, he'll be there. Waiting. Like Danger is. I know Danger rests peacefully now. She remembered those thoughts sitting by her campfire at night with Bubba at her feet. What if he desperately needs medical help and the mark is the only way to get it for him? I'll tell him to go on without me. I'll catch up later. Chain, she feared the mark more than being alone.
Chain rarely kept over twenty dollars cash on her person. The banks were opened at noon now and closed before sunset and were never opened on the weekends. Too many bank robberies and bombings had changed the way the world managed its money. ATMs were no longer silent sentinels dispensing cash along dark interstates. People banked online now. Used smart phones. Good way to get shot was using an ATM anyway. Bubba would tell her not to risk her life for his. She would have told him the same thing. Later, they would have said. We'll meet up later.
Chain wrapped Bubba the Cat in her frayed denim jacket and carried him over to the hammock they had shared for years. After meals or just lounging around camp waiting for snares and dead falls to do their work. They had watched squirrels play in the branches overhead for hours at a time. They had listened to the owls call to one another on warm summer nights as mosquitoes buzzed around the mosquito netting protecting them from West Nile virus and other viruses the nuclear fallout had created after The Blast.
Chain laid in the hammock with Bubba in her arms and wept with great sadness. She hadn't wept like that since her beloved cat Danger had died over a decade earlier. She wept and grew strangely tired. Grief was mercifully accompanied by exhaustion. She knew what was about to happen and felt a deep fear of the lonliness that would take hold of her mind.
I am here, Chain. Your old friend from so long ago. I'm back. There's nothing you can do about it either.
Then let me sleep for a while. I can't bear to look at your face right now, Loneliness.
Mercifully, she dozed for a little while. You could almost see her face age as she slipped into a kind of half sleep. Scowls with tense eyes closed.
Her camp became of camp of tears as Bubba's life came to an end on that early autumn afternoon as storm clouds blew across the horizon at fantastic speeds. The rain would come later, so the clouds promised. They threatened torrents of rain with thunder far off, but she barely acknowledged it.
She cradled him in her arms and spoke soothingly to his soul about how much she loved him and would miss him. That there would never be another like him and that she didn't really want another cat anyway for none could replace Bubba the Cat. She told him of all her cats, he had been a real gentleman. A blessing to her in her old age.
"Don't hang on, Bubba. Let go. Don't suffer. Please don't suffer." She sniffed back tears and stroked his face affectionately. Bubba never responded as his breathing grew slower and slower and his body colder in her jacket.
An hour passed as she layed in the hammock feeling Bubba grow colder and colder though he was still alive. Barely breathing, cold, but alive.
Her mind brought up memories of all the good times they had shared. The first time he had seen a rabbit snared and still alive had frightened him at first and then he tried to kill it himself. His time on the pallets after being abandoned had taught him to never pass up an easy kill like that, but that rabbit grabbed him and kicked him silly till Chain pulled them apart and dispatched the rabbit with her heavy walking stick. Then there was the time Bubba fell through the ice at the nearby pond and screamed out in fear till she walked waist deep in freezing cold water to pull him to shore to safety. A woodduck for an easy meal nearly cost him his life. He never walked on ice again after that. Bubba made his mistakes, but he learned from them, too. All the good memories they created together flooded her mind as she held him close and felt Old Man Death right outside her camp ready to carry him away from her.
She remembered Bible scripture concerning death of an animal and accepted the fact that this day she had dreaded for so long had finally arrived. She spoke to him low and as comforting as possible. She cradled him gently. Her best friend was dying in her arms and there was nothing she could do about it.
The moment wasn't so much about her as it was him. Was he aware of what was going on?
"I read in the Holy Bible that when an animal dies, it's soul goes into the ground with it's body. You will sleep now, Bubba. Sleep so safe where nothing can hurt you anymore. Your soul is going right where it should be, too. This is your ground, Bubba," said Chain, bringing the top of Bubba's head to her lips for a little kiss. A small hug. Not wanting to let go. "I don't know if you will be conscious in your spirit body, but if you are, don't leave me. Stay here, if you can. Come to me in my dreams. Let me hold you one more time in my dreams." Her face ached with pain as hot tears flowed from her eyes with each word.
A grimace across her lips. Eye lashes dewed with tears. Sighs. Many sighs. Laying in the hammock at times. Standing at times. Heart breaking.
"We have been through so much together. There were times when I wanted to give up, but knew I had to keep fighting. That you were depending on me. I had to get up each morning and work, dig, survive against all things thrown at us, so we and especially you had food and medicines. When we fled the city after The Panic, my main concern was you. You have helped to keep me alive, boy. You gave me a sense of purpose. I couldn't let you down."
Autumn leaves were ripped from tree branches by turbulent winds that rammed in from the south and swirled to the ground around Camp Sapphire. Hard winds promised a hard storm by morning, but Chain barely noticed it. The swell would pass and the woods became calm again. Much like her emotions as she waited for Bubba's last breath.
"I knew that one day this would happen, but how does one prepare the heart and mind for it? I can't do it. Never been able to. Not with you, Danger, Hunter, or Daisy Chain or the other cats and pets I have had. Even a horse I had nearly thirty years ago. That poor animal was over thirty-three years old and was dying, yet the shock of losing him hurt so bad that I never got another horse because I simply hold on too tightly. And it hurts too much to let go."
"I don't want to let you go, Bubba. Why do I have to let you go?"
She laid back in the hammock as the weight of the grief fatigued her heart and soul and made her tired beyond description. Her arms ached for some reason as she held Bubba close to her. She hurt inside with small pains that had become recently more frequent.
Chain closed her eyes and was nearly asleep when she felt Bubba's body suddenly relax. An unexplained small surge of energy passed though her heart when this happened. Something that even later she could not explain, but felt like Bubba's spirit had tried to hang on to her spirit heart as his spirit left his body. There was a definite tugging sensation and then releasing that she knew she felt physically, painfully. Chain didn't know it, but she had just suffered a mild heart attack as the small clot passed roughly through a ventricle.
Chain sat up slowly cradling her dead cat. Dizzy and sick. After a few minutes of gaining a clear mind, she accepted that Bubba the Cat was no longer alive. More tears flow into the large cat's limp gray body till the sun was no more on the horizon. She smoothed the fur around his face in the gloaming. She stroked his neck the way he had enjoyed it for so long. Her heart ached from the pain of the loss of her very best friend and companion.
Her best friend and boon companion was gone forever from her and the pain of the thought was unbearable. Chain wept herself to sleep holding Bubba's body close to hers as they layed in the hammock together for one last time. The storm that threatened rain all day with nearly tornadic winds at time was an empty threat. It was the coldness in her legs that woke her early the next morning. The front had passed. A black sky with stars illuminated her path back to the tipi.
Wrapped in a blanket, she was speaking softly to him. Laid beside her on the bed. She curled up beside him and slept till late afternoon. Strangely quiet when she rose.
She buried him on a hill near Camp Sapphire under a massive oak tree. The grave was deep and held his body well. She took a five gallon container of cold ashes from her campfire and spread them over his blanket-wrapped body.
"I'll miss you, boy."
She kept repeating it so often that she made herself stop. Her chest ache and she felt like she had the flu coming on. She wept and had to stop working as the emotions took her to deep depths of grief. She regained composure and finished the work. She covered the grave with tear soaked soil. Tamped firm before firewood was used to cover it. To keep animals from digging him up. It felt like days had passed when the sun finally set with her laying in the hammock alone.
There was no cheerful light that night in Camp Sapphire. Only the sounds of a lonely woman sighing and weeping softly in the dark. The first night was rough.
Everyday she visited his grave making sure it was safe from predation by adding more tree branches or ashes to cover the scent of death.
Chain Golden went to her bed in the tipi and only came out to check on Bubba's grave or to use the outhouse. She barely ate and lived off of teas or fruit she found while wandering the woods aimlessly. At night, she slept as if drugged with morphine.
This went on for nearly two weeks when a nagging pain in her back brought her back to the reality that she was alive and was expected to keep moving. She had more to give and she was expected to give it. Her cloud of depression lifted enough for her to resume a life alone in the world again. It wasn't much, but deep inside she knew she had to keep moving.
Camp Sapphire had never been so empty as it had been with the death of her cats. The time between the passing of one cat and the time another one had picked her as its new owner had sometimes felt like hell with the growing loneliness.
Chain never made friends easily for she had always sensed she was different than other people. She had been taught by those around her that she wasn't wanted by the harshness of their rebukes for simple childhood errors. Constant reminders of what a lot of useless trouble she was. Sometimes she would catch herself saying the exact same words to those around her. She rarely apologized.
Family did an excellent job in making her feel her life had been a mistake and that she should have never been born. Had it not been for her pets and the woods to roam in and creeks to fish in, Chain would have either committed suicide or became a drug addict like some of her teenage friends had become.
Months of time flowed over Camp Sapphire. Winter approached, but the wood pile was barely used. Chain grew use to sleeping alone and cold. Then she began to be haunted. Memories. In February, the dreams came. Almost lucid.
She remembered each cat that had claimed her as its human in the months that followed. These were the ones that had shared her campfire and she spoke to them all.
The friendly Siamese she had been given by a pet shop owner because the crippled cat nearly ripped it's cage door off the hinges to be held by her. She held the cat and it laid it's head against hers with closed eyes. She lived to be a very old cat and was kind to the other pets Chain brought home.
The little orange and white mottled stray, she had rescued from drowning by a pack of vicious teenage boys bent on destroying it. It had followed her up the creek bank at her heels as the denim-clad teenagers threw handfuls of mud at them shouting curses their parents had taught them. It screamed when a clod of mud hit its flank. Chain swooped the cat up and ran. They cursed her. Swore death threats. They found her gone one afternoon and killed the cat. The boys left it where she would find it, too. Where it waited for her to get off the school bus and walk through the woods towards home. A crumpled pack of Marlboro cigarettes marked their kill. Chain cursed them and what she cursed them with eventually occurred to their bodies as they had done to her cat. Each died with broken bones and crushed organs. Just like Pumpkin had. They met their fate cursing her. Cursing God. Hell wasn't that big eternal party they had been promised after all.
Later, came the jealous black furry female who fought every stray cat who snuck into camp looking for scraps by the fire. That cat had had a very short tail and lots of attitude. Coyotes got her. She hunted too long in the woods one day.
The big yellow cat with the missing eye who disappeared one night a few months after it's arrival. Chain had heard the fight with the bobcat, but by the time she had her boots on, her rifle in hand, and the light ready, the forest was quiet again. She found a few strands of its black fur but never the poor dead cat's body.
Even Sapphire, for whom the camp had been named, came to her thoughts as clearly as if she were sitting on the ground beside her. With great affection, Chain spoke to Sapphire and complemented her again for her beautiful blue eyes. Sapphire purred and rubbed against Chain's legs and jumped into her lap like she had done many times before. Sapphire was the cat that shared her truck camper first. All her other pets were gone by the time Chain had moved away from Natchez.
Sapphire had fallen to her death while being chased by a pack of feral cats. They pushed her too high up a tree and she lost her grip. Chain found them trying to eat her flesh and immediately pulled her knife and charged the pack of ravenous beasts with angry shouts. Screams an Amazonian warrior would have been proud to call her own. She knew these cats and had chased them away before, but she had no idea they would attempt to kill Sapphire and eat her. She would have taken care of the feral cats sooner.
Chain had hunted down the entire pack of the feral cats after placing Sapphire's broken and torn body into her pickup truck cab. Flecks of fat stuck to Chain's hand from Sapphire's ripped guts. She tracked the feral pack of cannibalizing cats to an old barn damaged heavily by time and tree limbs and killed everyone with a single shot to the head from her .22 rifle while in a deep raging anger. As each cat fell, the others jumped upon the dead body attempting to eat it. This shocked Chain because she had never heard of cats doing this before.
Chain loved Sapphire deeply and had named her new camp after her the week before. Her plans of bowhunting with Sapphire had been cutoff and Chain was inconsolable over it for a long time.
All these cats through her life appeared at her campfire through the winter and early spring in her imagination or her dreams and she spoke to them and welcomed them with toasts of pine needle tea for them to have excellent after lives. She recalled the times they had shared and by dawn, each cat withdrew back into the shadow world they had come from.
In spring, he came. Big, tough, but a heart that loved the old woman dozing by the smoldering camp fire.
When Danger finally appeared in a dream, she knelt on the ground before him as he walked through her camp meowing loud for her to come to him. She knew his call. Chain, where are you? Chain? Come to me. She wept hard with trembling lips beholding the large yellow cat as he strolled towards her with his proud tail high over his back. Tears flowed like a river across her lined face for her beloved Danger to All Dogs, the Fightenest Cat This Side of the Mississippi. For she had loved him the most. Even more than Bubba the Cat. She knelt before him and held open her arms calling his name. "Come to me, Danger. It's been too long, boy. Save my life again, Danger. It's so hard living without you." A gentle yellow paw reached up and soaked the tears from her face. A loving touch from her dearest friend.
Here I am, Chain. Weep no more.
"Take me home, Danger. I'm tired. I'm old and tired. I am so alone. Too alone. Take me home. Take me to the One that I prayed to for you to come into my life. May He be the one that sent you to take me home. I am so tired, Danger."
When the time comes, I will be there for you. You have something important to do first then I will come for you, my beloved human. Hang on a little longer. You have just one more thing to do for Someone then I will be sent for you. And remember, you are never alone. I live in your heart. Talk to me anytime you want. Your love keeps me alive and close.
Chain woke from the dream as she sat near the campfire leaning against the back of the chair she had made from willow wood and dried her tears with her sleeve. Yes. She had loved Danger the most. He had saved her life the night their house burned down. Had attacked a stranger lurking behind her barn when she came home late one night from cutting pastures. Danger attacked a rattlesnake hiding in the woodpile the following winter. Suffered the bite meant for her as she reached for wood without watching. Danger had cared whether she lived or died and showed it often.
Companionship. Body guard. Best friend. Gave her two beautiful daughters of his to enjoy when he was away hunting on his own. He knew Chain didn't do well when she was alone too long.
She had prayed to God for an exceptional cat and He gave her one. His death hurt most of all. Like torn, twisted flesh in her heart. She grieved for years missing her best friend who cared about her. Only Bubba the Cat had cared, but even he had ran away when the threats became too loud. But never Danger. By her side no matter what happened. Fighting, loving, sharing, just being together. Danger never abandoned her and left her to die in the forest on a cold winter night. Danger, he could punish, too. And he punished anything and anyone who harmed his beloved Chain Golden.
"Then let that one thing come quickly, Danger." She whispered resigned that today was not the day.
She went about her camp life, but she had very little life left in her. She was truly exhausted of life and wanted to move on. She gave away the smoked pigs she had cured to strangers. Gave away the dried fish and squirrel to neighbors. Gave away seed and grains. Gave away her tiller and all her canning supplies. Gave away all her fishing tackle and boat. Gave away her old rifle and pistol. Burned her archery gear she had made herself. She ached inside mentally and physically and simply didn't want to get up anymore when the sun warmed the tipi each morning.
When she saw Bubba again, she had hardly any stores left and wasn't concerned about it. Chain Golden was tired of living and it showed in her face and the disarray of her camp. Hunger camped with her now at Camp Sapphire. Sullen hunger with mean, dark eyes watched her waste away.
In a dream, Bubba returned to her. She was cleaning catfish at the picnic table painted jade green and heard something behind her. She turned and saw him walking up the path towards her camp meowing loudly. The sun shone bright on his gray and black fur and he never looked more handsome. She knew this call as his "I caught a mouse, Chain. Come see." She stood and they met at the edge of camp.
For some reason she could not go to him and felt frustrated by this. She pushed against the resistance, but it held firmly. Bubba watched her in silent aloofness and then stood and walked away. She called to him, but he did not stop and quickly disappeared into the woods down the deer path they took to Dry Creek. She called to him again reaching for him. Woke herself up calling his name.
Saddened by the dream, she left the cold bed and stood stiffly bracing herself on a tipi pole. She had a doctor's appointment to go to that morning. Washed and dressed still remembering the dream. It was late spring now. She felt old and sick inside. There was pain in her body like she had never known before, too. She only needed a doctor to confirm what she thought was happening to her. Her symptoms she recognized from what she had heard others speak of.
When the gruff doctor told her he had found a cancer in her body, she kept her silence not letting the contemptuous man have the opportunity to tell her that everybody dies sooner or later. He was a man without compassion and it showed in his pig eyes and wolfish tone. She had sensed his hatred of people and women in general after only a few minutes of conversation. That his obvious love of golf was more important. Plaques here and there in his office showed what he cared about most. No family pictures. No medical awards. Just golfing paraphernalia and awards.
Later tests confirmed the cancer as malignant and had spread too far for surgery to be of much use. It was terminal and Chain hadn't much time. A month at the most.
Chain left the oncologist's office and sat in her truck relieved. It would soon be over.
Chain left all she owned to a local church she had been a member of off and on for nearly forty years. These people would inherit a tract of property along with her bank accounts with all totaling over half a million dollars in worth. Chain's frugal nature and wise investments would be a blessing for her church known across the United States for helping people suffering from the lingering effects of The Blast and later The Panic that had emptied entire cities as rumors grew of new nuclear blast.
After dropping off her will and other important papers with her pastor and leaving specific directions for her funeral wishes, she drove home to Camp Sapphire. The last week of her life was filled with pain so bad she would scream at times. Only the trees and the animals in the forest knew of her suffering. Bubba the Cat was nearby, but couldn't hear her anymore.
The day her pastor stopped by to check on her had followed a very rough night for Chain. He found her on the ground unconscious next to Bubba's unmarked grave.
A sound came to her ears as she laid there. Far away she heard a noise growing louder. What is that, she thought. Her body suddenly felt light in her skin. There was no more pain. She couldn't breath and wasn't afraid. Rising. Standing. The padding of small feet running towards her like a large cat on a wooden floor. Turning her head, she reached out for the yellow cat appearing only to her eyes. He glowed like polished gold. His eyes were like the brightest emeralds. She rose and stood strong and reached out her hand to him. In the light, the healing light that flowed around them both, she held him once again in her arms as her spirit completely left her dead body. Danger wrapped his paws around her neck and rested his whiskered cheek on her cheek. Cradled in her arms, he felt them moving with fantastic speed across the horizon in a blink. They travelled upward and away from the sorrows they had both known. They would spend eternity together in grace. She had done the final thing necessary and could now come home.