I didn’t want to ensadden my post-Christmas wrapup (which is coming sometime tonight, I promise, with photos and cemeteries and The Nephew and all good things) with this, but on the 23rd, I lost my friend, and my heart is broken.
It was coming for a long time, and I didn’t mention it to many people, which I know you’re immediately thinking is strange, because I pretty much mention everything somewhere online – here, Twitter, Facebook, somewhere. Here’s the thing – I don’t like sympathy. It makes me twitch. I get this from my father, who won’t talk about anything sad in his life, ever, on the off chance someone will tell him they’re sorry, then he’ll feel like a loser because someone felt sympathy for him. I’m not that bad – I know it doesn’t make me a loser – but I don’t like to say anything that causes someone to say “I’m sorry for your loss” or “Oh, no, are you ok?” or things like that. Because it’s awkward, and makes me feel weak, and also I might cry in front of someone which is like the #1 no-no in Amyland. It’s a mental block. I don’t know. It’s not the only weird thing about me. You know that if you’ve been reading. (This means I fail at Facebook because I never put up those “OH MY GOD THERE’S A HOLE IN THE WORLD LIKE A GREAT BLACK PIT” posts that make people write comments like “I’m HERE for you, babe.” I actually even see those and want to hide under the couch like an ostrich.)
But I wanted to mention this, because at some point, it’s going to come up, in comments, or on Twitter, or something, and it’s going to make me sad all over again. And it’s a thing that happened. And that’s what I do here; talk about things that happened, sometimes ones that matter, sometimes ones that don’t. So here’s the story, in a nutshell:
Twelve years ago, I rescued a very sick tortoiseshell cat from the humane society. She moved house with me seven times; she moved across the country with me, yowling from her carrier the whole way; she slept in my bed; she cuddled with me when I was sick or sad or just needed a cuddle; she grudgingly accepted her vastly less intellectual adopted brother a few years later and only bit him once in a while (and honestly, he kind of deserved it, he never looked where he was going and ran into her regularly.)
A few months ago she started losing weight, acting strangely, refusing to use the litterbox, not wanting to be touched. The vet couldn’t find anything wrong. The vet said he could run very, very expensive tests, which may or may not find anything wrong with her; however, it may just be advanced age, as no one knew exactly how old she was when I adopted her, or what kind of life she’d led prior to my taking her in.
Last week, she wouldn’t even eat the wet food that was the last thing she would touch. She wouldn’t come out from under the bed. She would drink, some, if I brought her the water dish. She hissed when I touched her. She hid further under the bed, in the dark corner, where no one could see her.
I cried a lot, last week. Sorry for not going into further detail on why I was being so emo, people in my life.
So I brought her home on Friday and had her put to sleep, because if I brought her home, my father could bury her somewhere that I could go and visit, which isn’t an option since I don’t own any land where you can just dig a hole and bury something without someone thinking you’re either a pirate or a murderer.
It was the right thing to do. As animal owners, we have the job, as horribly painful as it might be, to end the suffering of our companions when there are no other options, because they can’t tell us where it hurts. I know that. I know it was the right choice.
I put on a brave face as my father took her to bury her; I told my mother I had to run outside for a minute, because, like I said, I don’t like to cry in front of people. I went behind the garage, and I thought I was just going to cry, a little, and then move on, because I’m a grownup, and it was the right thing to do, and she was an animal, dammit, and I’m a human being, and it was the last thing I could do for her, as I’d loved her, and she needed me to do this for her. Acting like a child was idiotic. Having crazy emotions over something that needed to be done was a waste of time.
I sobbed like a child. Audibly. It bent me over, out of nowhere. It hurt my stomach and my chest and my head. The right thing to do doesn’t weigh much against twelve years of an animal you’ve shared your life with. I held her collar in my hand and I wept until I was empty inside like a hollowed-out gourd and then cleaned myself up and went inside and refused to talk about it, much, for the rest of the weekend. It was Christmas. No one wants to talk about dead pets at Christmas.
I got home today with an empty carrier and Dumbcat hasn’t stopped looking for her since I walked in the door. He thinks she’s in the carrier; he thinks she’s under the bed, where she’s been hiding; he thinks she’s on the porch; he thinks I’ve got her on my lap so he keeps trying to jump up. This is confusing. He’s always had a sister; now there’s no sister. He doesn’t know what to do. He’s calling through the place in his sad little plaintive meow, trying to sing her home.
I’ll get another cat, sometime, maybe sooner than later. I like having two. I like saying I have “cats” and right now I’m saying I have “cats” and catching myself and correcting it and saying “cat” and feeling it all over again. Dumbcat needs a friend, because alone, he gets up to too many shenanigans, like hiding in the pots and pans cupboard and knocking over the cereal boxes and walking in the crunchy pieces with his feet with his mouth hanging open in glee at the funny noise he’s making.
But for a while, I’ll just be empty. It was the right thing to do. I know that. But dammit, the right thing to do hurts like a son of a bitch, doesn’t it?