Take the Photo
In February, I gave myself a vague quest to take photos of our semi-feral black cat. She didn’t like the camera. She spent a lot of time under the bed and slinking away if anyone noticed her.
Our first dog had found her with her littermates under a manzanita bush at our first home. We scooped the kittens up when they started to hide and run from us. She was the meanest of the bunch, hissing and spitting from the back of the carrier. We kept her because we figured it would be hard for her to find a home. We called her Lucifer aka Lucy Fur. She loved being outside and yowled if we took her indoors. She moved with us and grew up with Anika.
She is the top kitten in the group. We found the other kittens homes. Years passed. She moved with us into our house closer to town. We half expected her to run off to wilder woods but she stayed nearby. If we ever coaxed her inside, she would pace and yowl. We created a space in the garage where she could sleep.
A few years ago, she showed up after missing for days. She had a gnarly stomach wound. I called the vet cautioning she could be mean... it turned out her cut was deep and infected. And she was super sweet at the vet. The vet said we needed to keep her indoors with a cone for at least three weeks. Whaaaat? I expected disaster. Instead, Lucy realized she loved the indoor life. She would visit outside but changed her retirement to an inside-life. She remained shy. Her nickname was the Ghost Cat because she only came out for certain people. If she came out, you were family. With us, she was loving and craved attention (on her terms). Many friends, seeing her for the first time, said, "I didn't know you had a cat."
About a month ago, my husband and I had a photoshoot across the street at the high school. The kids called us that Lucy wasn’t acting right- listless and foamy around the mouth. We rushed her to the emergency vet. Within minutes, we were saying goodbye. Her loss was a shock. Still.
We don’t know why she was fine one day and gone the next. She could have hidden an illness. Or found poison. Or hunted a critter that ate poison. We didn’t have time to figure out why she passed so quickly.
When I came home, I realized that my vague quest had never resulted in an actual photo. I had a few with Chewie, where she was moving or a dark pool of black fur.
I kept thinking that light would be better tomorrow. She would sleep in a better frame tomorrow. I’d take the photo tomorrow.
After we laid her to rest in the backyard, I skimmed through my photo collections with growing dread that I didn’t have one good photo of her. She was so elusive and only 13. I thought I had time.
I finally found on. From years ago. Thank goodness.
I was so grateful for this one image. It's still the lockscreen on my phone.
My message is that we take the photos. Everyone. No matter what our photographic background. Not to get too hung up on light and composition and technical precision, but to realize that change happens at any time, and the images we make today may be treasures tomorrow.
Lucy is missed but we've accepted that she's moved on to wilder hunting ground. She'll meet us over the rainbow bridge. She left amazing stories. And she’ll be in our hearts forever.
With her usual startled expression, half a breath from leaping away.
Oh, and tell pets that they are good girls (and boys) every single day. They never stay long enough.
Peace and light, Lenka