Tonight, I'm feeling the effects of my now-empty nest. I don't like it.

It's been a full 24 hours since Maddie passed on, and I didn't realize until now just how much I talked to her. Yes, I know this sounds like I need professional help, but it's true.

My family would all agree on one item. I could talk to a wall and get a response. That is how much my mouth runs. My pets have always been that wall. In fact, as I look back on my life, with the small exception of a year and a half, I've always had pets, and, thus, have always had a wall to talk to!

There was Tai Li ... the Siamese cat with sinus issues. Tai Li had been around as long as I can physically remember, and I have some lovely memories of her. I remember being outside on a fall Indian Summer day, piling leaves all around her, while she patiently sat under them, cursing me and my three year old ways, under her wheezy breath.

As I mentioned, Tai Li had sinus issues. She sneezed incessantly ... ALL THE TIME. And with each sneeze came a shower of kitty snot. You had to wear a raincoat! Seriously! There was this one spot in the hallway that she always loved to sit next to because of the heating duct behind it. That wall was absolutely covered with dried cat boogers! I swear to you.

With her sinus problems came a puking problem, due to all the drainage. We had a playroom in the basement with an old, hideous sofa that my mother swears was in style at one time. I'm not buying it. That sofa was one of the many places that Tai Li loved to empty the contents of her stomach on any given day. It was common knowledge that if we were going to go down and play house or school or office, you had to first sweep the basement and peel all of the crusty, old puke piles off first. Ahhh ... memories!

Then there was Greta, the German short hair. We got her the day before Ann was born. She was a good dog that, sadly, we never spent much time with ... I still regret that to this day. She was a born hunter until some neighborhood boys ruined by throwing firecrackers at her just for the sheer fun of it ... idiots! From that point on, every time there was a thunderstorm, the poor animal had to be tranquilized. But she was loyal and sweet and loving, and I still miss her!

Molly the Cat came along just before Tai Li passed away. She was the daughter of my Uncle Tim and Aunt Cheryl's cat Natalia, and we just loved her to pieces. Molly was a very ... how should I put this delicately? She was not at all discerning about who she slept with. She was tagged with the name Blanche from the Golden Girls, as she would make herself right at home with guests in their beds ... crawling right under the covers, if she so desired! Molly loved her some buttered toast, too!

Molly also had it in for Ann. She loved nothing better than to terrorize my poor sister endlessly. We both received handy-me-down Barbie Townhouses, and Molly loved to jump up in that second or third floor and sit, which is all she ever did in my townhouse. However, in Ann's, she managed to chew the fingers off of her Barbie, rendering the poor, plastic creature disabled by today's standards. Ann is still working through the bitterness of those incidents!

Cricket, the Daschund-Chihuahua mix came as Molly was entering her middle ages. Cricket was a precious baby in all of our minds! She begged for popcorn whenever she thought she could actually get the cooker, i.e., my mother, to comply. She was obsessed with carrots, too. The dog would kill for "orange sticks."

Cricket also loved to french kiss you! First thing we always warned guests was, "Careful! She Frenches!" I can still hear her little nails clicking on the floor and see her settling into her nest of blankets!

When I moved out on my own, I lasted only a little over a year before I got my first pet, my sweet Sadie Dog. Never have I met such a sweet dispositioned animal as Sadie. She loved absolutely everyone! Sadie and I did everything together, and she loved nothing better than to travel in my car. It was a sad day when she could no longer jump up in my truck to take a ride.

Sadie loved to hunt for moles, and for all of the ground she managed to dig up in her ten years of life, she only caught one! But she gave the hunt a valiant effort.

One of the hardest things I've ever had to do was to leave Sadie behind when I moved to Kentucky. She'd been with me through most of my adult, on-my-own life, and I wanted to share this new adventure with my adventure buddy.

Maddie showed up on my front porch one morning three years after Sadie came to live with me. I wasn't going to keep her, but she was so pitiful and little and sickly and sweet, I couldn't resist. It was only after she got better that her true colors shone through ... she was the Maxine of the cat world. But she loved Sadie, and to the day she died, Maddie missed that sweet dog. Sadie was Maddie's mother figure, and as a result, Maddie did a lot of dog things ... greeted me at the door ... rolled over to have her belly scratched ... begged like a dog ...

Maddie hated everyone, with the small exception of myself, my sister Ann, and my friend Rhonda. She especially hated my father, and the feelings were mutual.

Maddie and I tried to solve world peace, discussed fashion, hair care products, dating, food and health and a menagerie of other things. She never cared for my opinion, and I never cared for hers ... it didn't matter. We had a mutual admiration society going on.

I don't want to go home to that empty nest tonight. I will miss hearing her little bell jingling as she runs down the stairs to meet me. Oh man! I will miss so much ...

Empty nests suck!


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