- Kathryn R. Biel
14 years is a long time. A lot can happen in 14 years. For example, it the past 14 years, I have:
Gotten 3 college degrees
Lost 2 grandparents
Moved about 6 times
Lived in 5 states
Worked 11 jobs
Bought 4 cars
Met and married my husband
Had 2 wonderful kids
And this says nothing about how the world has changed. 9/11, cell phones, the internet. 14 years ago, blogs weren't even invented, let alone Facebook. My friends and I mocked people who walked around talking on their phones. Now I feel as if my phone is another appendage. 14 years ago, the Red Sox were still waiting to reverse the curse.
But today is significant for another reason. 14 years ago today, my college roommate and I got a kitten. This kitten was sired by a good friend's cat. Our friend had been tragically killed in a car accident earlier that summer. We took the kitten as a link to him. His favorite bar (and ours at the time) was Harper's Ferry on Brighton Ave. We had been there with him the night he died. To us, it made sense to name the kitten Harper.
As a kitten, Harper had a penchant for attacking unsuspecting socks and gloves, and the ever troublesome pencil. Once, while I was breaking up with a no-good boyfriend, Harper jumped up from behind the couch and bitch-slapped him in the face, completely unprovoked. If only she could have advised me sooner....
I often talked to my grandmother about Harper. My grandmother was an avid cat lover and had had many cats over the years. I visited my grandmother frequently the year I got Harper. It was easy to talk about the cat, and not talk about the fact that she was dying of lung cancer.
So, for 14 years, Harper has been my companion. She moved between various apartments in Boston, and down to Maryland with another friend. I ended up taking her for good after my last clinical in 1999. Since then, Harper has lived at my parents, before moving to Ohio with me, and then back to NY.
When I sing, especially in the shower, Harper cries loudly. I like to think she's trying to sing along with me, but I'm pretty sure she's just yelling at me to stop.
When Pat and I first started dating, Harper was jealous. She used to wedge herself in between us. That was until she grew to love Pat. Then, she just sat in his lap. I have been trying for years to get Pat to admit that he loves he, but he simply replies, "I put up with her." As he's caressing her and snuggling her, and kissing her.
When I was pregnant with Jake, I worried about what Harper's reaction would be. When we brought him home, Harper was right there, checking him out. She meowed whenever he cried, until she learned what it was. Then she learned that the kids have great toys, like boxes and ribbons and dangling things. She likes them, and allows them to abuse her in all sorts of ways.
Harper has become a mouser in the last few years. She keeps up her skills by chasing socks. Still. Usually at about 4 am.
Harper probably has failing kidneys. She has lost a lot of weight in the past year. She had always been obese, but now she's 5 ounces lighter than a straw hat. She has trouble jumping, probably due to arthritis. But she eats and drinks, and produces the required output. She plays and sleeps and keeps us company. I don't know that she'll make it to 15.
Harper has been a good companion. She is my last link to my life before marriage and children. She is one of the last threads to my grandmother. She is the first pet for my children. Her name will be a security question for them when they are older. And whether or not Pat will ever admit it, she is loved by us all.