Thursday, March 28, 2024

Indiana Bones

Indiana entered my life in October of 2011.

He changed my life.

He moved with me, in all ways.

I moved from southern California to Northern California at the tail end of 2014, and my life changed dramatically within a year of my move. But Indy stayed with me, and he became my best friend and stalwart companion even when so much around me shifted. Reggie, the cat he had previously tolerated, became his dear companion, and three of us made a whole new home and community. 

He grew up alongside me.

He hiked with students, with neighbors, and with all kinds of community. He fell in love alongside me. He took on my stepkids as his own pack.

In the second half of his life, Indiana developed a new behavior. He would push his head into my thigh, asking to be pet. When I would stroke his long, velvety ears, scratch under his chin, and massage around his neck, his hackles would rise in pleasure. Always a defender of me and our home, his hackles otherwise rose defensively. But Indy felt love just as deeply as he felt a need to protect, and his body reacted accordingly. We called this reaction his Happy Hackles. 

He mourned Reggie with me, the only other creature who knew the depth of loss. When Reggie died, he found Reggie's small cat bed, pulled it down, and kept it close to him. Sometimes, he would sleep in it, curled in a tight ball in order to fit, just to be near Reggie's scent.

He aged with me. He hurt with me. He feasted with me--including eating half of one of my wedding cakes.

Everyone on my block knew Indy. When I told my neighbor he had passed, his eyes became wet. "He was a good guy." The best.

Indy's beloved dogsitter, A. Henderson, took this last picture I'm posting of him. His brown feet have become white, his muzzle and eyebrows silver, his nose freckled, but age has given him an understanding of humans, and his gaze towards all of us was full of love and companionship. He loved people.

I don't quite know what to do with myself in a life without you in it, Indy. I'll miss you forever, my loyal, generous, funny creature. I better understand love because you have existed.

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