Kudzu: A Profile

Monday, June 7, 2010


It's almost been nine years since Mom and I found three little fuzzballs in the garage being nursed by our resident feral cat. By then, experience had taught us that kittens untamed grow up to be wild untouchable things. So we became the surrogates to three little kittens, whom I named Nigel, Mischief and Isabella.

From the beginning, runty Isabella favored me. On stumbly legs, gamboling towards me with a tiny mew and bright blue eyes. Those eyes soon turned a clear, cool green. And when I decided to keep one of the kittens to take to grad school with me, it wasn't as though I had any choosing to do. The choosing had already been done.

Much to my chagrin, I soon found out that Isabella wasn't so much an Isabella. I lamented that I wouldn't have a sweet little girl cat. But a few tears shed, and I realized that I couldn't go on calling him Isabella. Mom, me and my boyfriend at the time tossed around names as we drove home from the vet's office. Looking out the window, he said, "What about Kudzu?" It stuck.

I wasn't even 22 yet. And green. Lord help me, I was green. I remember sitting in my very first apartment at Abbot's Run in Wilmington, NC, with nothing but my belongings and this little scrap of fur and ears and a long, long tail. It was with him and Peter Jennings that I weathered September 11 so far away from home in a strange new city where I knew no one. And my first disastrous creative writing workshop. And the rest of the roller coaster that was grad school - making a place for myself and making friends, through boyfriends, breakups, soul-crushing defeat and loneliness, my first real job and too much growing up to even cover.

In my second apartment, a giant Italiante revival style house built in 1818, he would sit on the wide windowsill in the kitchen facing the street below and wait for me to get home from work. I would sometimes overhear the ghost tours that went by my house during the summer and fall, the tour guide sharing some tale that featured a cat in the window, and I wondered if Kudzu ever scared the breath out of some unsuspecting soul.

Kudzu rode back and forth from North Carolina to Georgia when I'd go - 385 miles one way. He'd sit in the slanted back window when I drove the Corolla and rode shotgun when I bought the Rav. Perched on the gray upholstered seat, lifting his face up to the air conditioning when it was hot.

And when I decided after almost six years on the Carolina coast that it felt like the right time to go back home to Georgia, he was the one thing that seemed to hold steady in a revolving world. He sat in my lap as we crossed the 17th Street bridge, and I wailed like my heart was breaking. He seemed to know that it was all going to work out just fine.

Because Kudzu has always had that look of infinite wisdom about him. In my ordinary, non-superhero life, he's my Alfred, always calm and cool and reliable. His almost royal bearing, front paws pressed together, head held aloft. But lest you think he's got some sort of pedigree, check out the snaggly tooth hanging out on the left side.

Besides Isabella, he's gone by many (many) other monikers, including 'Zu, 'Zu-bug, 'Zubilee 'Zu, Buddy B and Bebo, although I have no idea where the "b's" originated.

And suddenly, my time with this constant companion, whatever his name may have been, is coming to an end. After three month's worth of doctor's visits - an ultrasound, two bone marrow aspirates, an infectious disease panel, antibody assessment, countless CBCs and two blood transfusions later - there is no answer for the chronic anemia.

It's hard to be at peace when losing something so dear. But I have prayed for peace and for acceptance. Over the weekend, I had a dream that Kudzu was sitting in a little woven basket, all his fur regrown, looking quite robust and healthy. And a voice kept saying, "He's ready to go."

There's no way to predict how long he has. We thought he was a goner last week. Every day is a blessing that I try not to take for granted as I wait for the story to come full circle, for the unexpected little fuzzball from the garage to make an exit as unpredictable as his entrance.

The hours are waning between me and my beloved Kudzu. And while the sorrow is palpable, the peace is, too. The peace that the Heavenly Father has a place for him, where he'll wait for me - maybe on the sill of a giant sunny window.

3 comments:

JennyRay said...

What a lovely post! Hugs to you and Kudzu...

artordoqui said...

Ashley-

Thank you for writing such a beautiful post. As a pet owner myself, I know the special bond that is made between a pet and its human, especially that first pet.

My two boys, AJ and Chipper, have been with me 12 years come October and thinking back to all they have gone through with me like you through moves, schools, loves, etc. especially this latest move, which was delayed by 5 hours when we couldn't find AJ- I just couldn't go without him.

Anyways, after reading your post I went and gave the boys some extra petting and love.

I hope that you and Kudzu get to enjoy lots of love and peace during this time. My thoughts are with you both. *hugs*

ashley said...

Thanks, Art. It's so true that you form an unbreakable bond with your pet. And, as excruciating as the present circumstances are, I wouldn't trade what I've shared with Kudzu for anything.

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