Chomp 1996?-2/13/2015. Goodbye my old friend.

In the summer of 1997, I moved to Fargo, ND to start my career in nursing.  At that time I knew precisely a handful of people in that city.  I was 23 and ready for "life."  By autumn I had settled into my ICU nursing job, my first big-girl apartment and life in general, however I was missing companionship.  My close, animal-loving friend suggested (insisted) I go to the Fargo Humane Society (now Homeward Animal Shelter) to check out their kittens.

I went to the shelter which was an wonderful no-euthanize facility.  I walked down the hall of kennels ooing and ahhing at the cute little kittens, and then came upon a stately looking gentlecat sitting in a kennel.  He had a black coat and the most beautiful swirls of silver on his sides I had ever seen.  I remarked to the employee, "This one's markings are beautiful!" and she wistfully replied "Yeah... He has been here six months already."  "Take him out" I directed her and we went into the playroom.  They told me they thought he was somewhere between a year and a year and a half old at that time.  I sat down on the floor and he purred and rubbed against me and then bit me.  But, it wasn't in a mean, defensive way, but in the way that kittens do when they wrestle and play with the siblings and mom they love.  It was as if he loved me so much he just had to nibble a bit.  I'd eventually come to learn he only bit if he really liked a person.
Fargo 1997

And so began my relationship with Chomp (Chomparoo, Sir Chompsalot, Chompasauraus Rex).  It was a relationship that saw me through several stupid boy heartbreaks and and an eventual forever love.  If you were to ask my husband, he would have to admit Chomp was his wing-man on one of our first dates.  As we sat on the couch Chomp conveniently sat on the back of the couch, allowing my hubby to reach up and pet him, and then naturally and casually wrap his arm around my shoulder.  They were cohorts from that point forward.  

He tolerated us bringing home a kitty brother, and another kitty brother. 
L to R: Harley, Kit (The Caribbean Kitty) and Chomp (Iowa, 2007)


He was with me through the loss of my mother and the arrival of a baby,
2004
and then another, 
2008
  and then another.
2015

  
 He loved me through, and mourned himself, the loss of brother Kit after 7 years and brother Harley after 12 years.  He tolerated 10 moves in 10 years, living on a small island in the middle of the Caribbean for almost 2 years.
I will get you Mr. Gecko! (Saba, NA 2002)


He endured no less than 8 airports, and the flights that went through them. He rode along and saw from a car window, no less than 8 states as he traveled with us.  My husband's journey through medical school and residency brought many evenings closing with both of them sound asleep together, Chomp curled in his favorite place, my husband's lap.  
Studying Medicine is exhausting. (Saba, NA 2002)


Throughout all of this turmoil and readjustment, he just rolled with all of it.  He never reacted negatively or angrily.  He consistently maintained his slightly proper demeanor and his uncanny ability to know when someone was upset, jumping to their laps to comfort them.  He was a master of subtle attention-getting, slowing clearing the jewelry from the top of my dresser piece by piece, sliding it to the edge until it fell, usually around 3 am.  He also never lost his ability to tip an unattended water glass. 

In the last couple years he has slowed down.  His favorite places were laying in the sunbeams on his cashmere (upcycled sweater bed for felines) pillow or in the cooler months, curled directly in front of the fireplace.  His chomping became less and less but he still would sneak a lick of your beer if you were not paying attention.  
mmm..... beer.....

He tolerated the addition of MommaCat, her daughter Samantha, and Gravy.  MommaCat, in true Mother fashion, has cared, cuddled and cleaned him for the last year.  Much to my dismay, he even cuddled with Samantha as a kitten. Even more shocking, he didn't flinch when we introduced him to a Karma, a 4-legged rescue thing referred to as "dog." 
Karma and Chomp Feb. 2015

And now, with him somewhere between 18 and 19 years old, I am having to say goodbye to him.  How do I summarize the amount of love I have for something I have loved longer than my husband?  How do you let go of such unconditional love? I don't know... there are really know words. I only know what he has taught me.  He taught me that sometimes what we are looking for is not what we need.  I know he taught me consistent, unwavering, unconditional love.  I know he has taught me to always dump out any water glasses.  And I know he taught me that sometimes you have to love something enough to let it go. 

I think if Chomp could have spoken (it would have been in a proper British accent) he would've asked, even begged you to consider a shelter animal if you are thinking of getting a pet.  He waited six months to be loved, and in return he gave me all of himself for 18 years.  Please consider a rescue pet; they are worth it, and so are you.
 

To see my video tribute to him:click on the word video.