From that first car ride home from the pet store, when she scratched fiercely against the cardboard box keeping her from exploring the car, she’s always wanted out.
Out of whatever room she’s in. Out of her cage in the morning. Out of the carrier in the car. On the other side of whatever door is shut.
Even on the long drive down those twisting country roads, when her abdomen was heavy with tumors and her liver starting to fail and the sheer exhaustion of it making her move slowly, she scratched doggedly at the door to her carrier, right up against the spring mechanism that would open the door.
So the drive home, with her wrapped in a pillow-case shroud, was sickeningly silent.
We lost her today, to liver cancer. She wasn’t quite three years old.
Vesper came to us in March 2009, when she was supposedly eight weeks old, but I’ve suspected she was younger.
I thought we were bringing home a pet. Vesper thought she was a family member.
Vesper was right.
Always she weaseled her way further into our lives. She begged to be held at dinner, then tried to squirm free up on the table. She raced me to the door every morning, as soon as my keys jangled out of the drawer.
She loved climbing up on our bed, and lay waiting quietly outside the bathroom door whenever she heard the shower shut off.
If he hugged me in her presence, she was there, standing up against my leg, nose twitching, begging to join the party.
After Alaska came home with us, she accepted her as a lower being. They’d sleep curled in a tangle of head and tail, so that it was hard to tell what belonged to which. But while Alaska was content to play with Vesper, Vesper still demanded our full attention. And after Alaska came home, Vesper stopped using her litter box — I guess just to show how she was different. We didn’t use the boxes, and neither would Vesper.
She was many things, but obedience wasn’t one her characteristics. And she was wily, waiting until we weren’t watching to dash off and make trouble.
I’ve never seen anything quite so full of life as Vesper. She’d dance across our floors, clucking and weaving her head and daring the world to cross her path. We would race across the living room, and her tail would form a bottle brush of excitement. She pounced on Alaska and hissed fiercely at dogs countless times her size and once she escaped outside, explored the garage until her digging at the concrete gave her away.
She never saw anything that she actually believed could stop her.
Up until the day she died, she dug at the gate into the kitchen, and I thought it was just a matter of time before she won.
I wish she were digging still.
The quiet, that’s what I’m hearing now. She ought to be underfoot, trying to see what I’m doing here at the kitchen table, fingers clicking on keys. I’d pick her up, and she’d smell the salt on my face, and try to lick the drying tears and I would laugh.
I’ll miss that.
I’ll miss watching her knock his papers to the floor, just to watch them fall. I’ll miss the way she always seemed surprised when water flowed out of the glass she dumped over, and how she hopped in even more surprise when the wetness touched her tiny feet.
Even here, these last couple of days when the tumors weighed her down, she wanted to be near us. She wrapped herself around my foot while I brushed my teeth this morning, rubbing her face against it. She asked to be carried all last night.
She comforted me on days I was sad, kept me company on days JJ was too busy with school to do much else, and made both of laugh every single day of the past two and a half years.
She fit a whole lot of living into not very long.
Tonight we’ll bury her between the hydrangea bushes. And we’ll hold Alaska a little closer.
But Vesper can never really be replaced.
She was part of the family, just like she wanted.