Hi readers--I'm back. If you were waiting for me to update this blog and had almost given up, thanks for sticking around. I fell out of writing around the time my YouTube channel started to ramp up. It simply took on a life of its own, and all of my creative juices that were not being consumed by painting went into producing those time-consuming videos.
Also it's been a tumultuous winter and spring for Jeff and me. Back in December we decided that this four bedroom house was too big for just the two of us. We bought a piece of property and plan to build a smaller house in the woods near Mark Twain Lake in northeast Missouri. This spring has been all about simplifying what we have and preparing our big house for sale. Our initial plan was to sell the house quickly and begin building, well, NOW, but we're having trouble finding a buyer. As you may know, our house is unique, and it's going to take a unique person/couple/family to take it on. Finding them is going to take some time.
Her health was in decline this spring, and, well...I'm heartbroken to write that she didn't make it. Earlier today I posted this tribute to Bun on my Facebook page, and I thought I should repost it here.
Bunny entered my life in 2001, just a month after 9/11. She was a tiny, tiny tailless stray cat, maybe 5 months old, and after a short flirtation period where she stalked and hid from me every day when I came home from work, she decided she wanted me to be her mama and literally jumped into my lap one morning.
She followed me upstairs to my apartment. I sat on the top step, she hopped onto my lap again, and I named her Bunny.
She was my faithful companion throughout my thirties and halfway through my forties, during times when I was very sad and times when I was so happy I couldn't quite believe it. She licked my tears and sat on my chest until I felt better. I talked to her and took care of her and poured all of my love into her.
She even helped me with my U2 cartoon sometimes, and because of this she has fans around the world. Once she received a love letter from a cat in Texas who proposed marriage, but Bun was a young thing and could not leave her mother.
She enjoyed watching me draw and paint, and this shot (taken by my sister Emily) became the reference photo for my self-portrait.
She loved nothing more than to cuddle up on the couch, and she'd stay there for hours.
It was like she instinctively knew what kind of poses were cutest.
After I married Jeff, Bun moved with me to the house in St. Joseph where she spent her happiest years. Here she is with her new brother Quixote. They are both dipping into some catnip, which Bun simply ate.
Bun's sister Hypatia, or Pache, was awesomely cross-eyed in this photo. It always makes Jeff and me laugh.
I had imagined that Bun would become best friends with her new siblings, but that never really happened. She was so bonded to Jeff and me, and I think she viewed us as the two big cats she wanted to be with the most.
But occasionally I'd catch them together, coexisting peacefully.
A few years ago, we bought a leather couch and chair with an ottoman. Bun immediately claimed the ottoman as her own.
Jeff--it's so odd to see him with dark hair now!--loved to hold Bunny "like a baby," and watching them together like this was my favorite thing in the world.
Bun was a world-class couch snuggler. She would wedge herself beside either Jeff or me, her head resting against a hip, and stay there for entire evenings.
I simply could not get over how adorable she was. Here's Bun in her perfect croissant formation.
This is one of Jeff's favorite Bun photos--she is attempting to steal some seafood from my bowl. Sharing food with Bun is something I will miss so much--we did it at almost every meal. She usually waited for me to dole out tiny bites, but this cioppino was different!
Bun loved it when Jeff and I started working from home in 2010, and she made sure we stayed on task.
Bun's little face and form demanded the occasional costume, including this sweatshirt Jeff found on a stuffed animal.
One Halloween, Bun was the baby Jesus and Jeff was Mary. I laughed so hard during this photo session. It lasted approximately five seconds.
Bunderwoman was really our finest hour.
Bun tribute cookie.
Bun tribute snow sculpture.
Bun had three healthy years, but at around age four she started having problems related to her not having a tail. They required constant monitoring and medicine, and she became well-known and loved at our local animal hospital. Back when their records were still on paper, Bun's file was huge compared with everyone else's.
Back in July 2011, Bun had to have major surgery at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital. She met her friend Dr. Blake, who saved her life and prescribed medication and food that helped Bun live for three more years. Remarkably, Blake has kept in touch since then, and Jeff and I are so thankful for his care and expertise.
This is Bun after returning home from the U of I. Jeff personally took over her medicine routine, which meant he had to dose her orally using a syringe multiple times per day. She took it like a champ and never fought him. In fact, I think it brought them closer together.
Another Jeff initiative: outsidies. We took Bun on supervised walkabouts around the house and yard on afternoons during the spring, summer, and fall. She adored it. I worried that she would start clawing at the door and meowing nonstop for outsidies all the timies, but she appreciated a routine and was fine with having time outdoors once a day.
She mostly stayed on walkways.
With occasional trips out into the yard where she was a mighty huntress.
Her fur was such beautiful camouflage, and I'd often lose track of her, saying, "Where's Bun?" only to find that she was right beside me, blending into a tree trunk or the dirt.
In the summer our yard becomes so lush and forest-like. Bun had fun exploring, and as always, she seemed so small! She was only a 7-pound cat in a kind of perpetual adolescence.
When she was especially blissed out, Bun would roll on her back and expose her glorious belly.
I used to carry her to the banks of the Salt Fork River, accessible via our neighbor's yard. This was an especially warm November afternoon, and we sat there listening to music for a long time.
Spring seemed to take forever to arrive this year, and this was the first day of outsidies for Bun.
At age 13, she knew how to pose and work with the lighting to her advantage. I gasped at how gorgeous this photo turned out.
I was happy that Bun got to see another spring. Over the past month, her health deteriorated. She had to visit the vet repeatedly. She became lethargic, lost weight, and her vision was not what it used to be.
This is the last really good photo I took of Bun. It was a few weeks ago. Then on Sunday we noticed that her breathing had become shallow and rapid, and she had taken on an unusual posture with her head stretched out in front. She seemed to be almost completely blind, and she had apparently been covering this condition by staying close to Jeff or me as we moved around the house.
She had a standing Monday morning appointment at the vet, but before that she managed to take an uninterrupted nap in the library in a sunbeam. I've painted her in that pose before. Once at the vet, we noticed that one of her eyes was bloodshot, and Bun's doctor confirmed that she had a heart murmur and...it was time. We held Bun like a baby and kissed her and told her we loved her and she was so brave and it was so hard.
And Jeff and I are beside ourselves with grief. Our beautiful girl is gone. Her suffering and fear is over and she is at peace. She is irreplaceable, and if you've lost a beloved pet, you know what this is like. We see her everywhere. We hear little noises in the house and think it's her. But she's missing. I have often said that every day with this special creature was a gift. I never took her for granted, and neither did Jeff. To us Bun was simply "She."
"She's hungry." "She's in the bedroom." "She loves you so much."
She was the best girl.
Thanks to Jeff, my parents, Jeff's parents, and Bun's doctors, and anyone who cared for and fell in love with this one-of-a-kind cat. The St. Joseph Animal Hospital gave her so much love and compassion yesterday and every time she was there. We are extremely fortunate to have them only a short walk from our house.
Thanks to Jeff's daughter Melissa, his parents, and my @U2 family for sending flowers, and over 1,400 messages of sympathy we've received this week from around the world. And thanks to you for reading this.
I love you Bun. ;;;;;;;;;