Saturday, August 30, 2014


           After a freak and unfortunate series of unexpected events at the vet while I was away, my cat has been dead for 2 weeks as of yesterday. People keep asking me how I'm doing. "Hanging in there" I say- because there really is no proper response to such a question. How am I doing? How would anyone be doing when their world has been shaken in this way? When the small, loving, innocent creature that became so much a part of my life that I cannot remember a day without him was here gazing up at me with his beautiful, vibrant, adoring and alive eyes one day and then a few days later, no longer existed in the world? There is nothing else to do but "hang in there"... I hang around waiting for a day when my apartment won't feel so empty and lonely. Some moments I feel as though I'm physically being hung... Like invisible hands or rope are wrapped around my neck and everything is closing in and it's hard to breath. These moments come from nowhere. And I'm stuck hanging in that moment, waiting for the wave to pass. I can imagine how ridiculous I might sound to some. I myself may have rolled my eyes at such prolonged sorrow before having gone through it myself. He was a cat after all. But that "just a cat"- oh he was my whole life. Some days I took it completely for-granted and for each of those days I have shed hundreds of tears and probably will continue to for a long while. That cat- he was simultaneously best friend, son, therapist, dependent, brother, baby and  love of my life.  
           I never knew what it was like to have a cat before Onyx. Growing up I had always wanted one but my father greatly disliked cats. "You can have a cat when you don't live in my house" he would say when I would beg to take home one of my neighbors kittens. So, that's  precisely what I did. The very first place I got on my own, my first order of business was to go out and get myself that kitten I'd always wanted. But at that time it wasn't just "oh I want a pet". I was in dire need of companionship. Onyx came into my life at one of the lowest and most desperate points I have suffered thus far. I had an incredibly hard first year and a half of college. With the pain, depression and hardship I faced during that time, I fell into a deep and dark place in my mind. That dark place lead me to behaviors that I do not talk about to this day but that will always stay with me. Those behaviors lead to the inevitable loss of the dearest and only friends that I had at that time (justified loss, I was at fault). It also cost me my home at the University as I became a liability for them and suddenly I was faced with a choice- quit school or move out into an apartment by myself and stick through it in spite of all I was going through. Somehow in that moment of choice I was granted the strength to choose to stay- and away I went into my very first (and only) apartment by myself. The biggest problem with this was- I was terribly codependent at that point in my life. Like, couldn't go to the snack machine without a buddy codependent. How would I ever handle living on my own? It was unfathomable. And thus, a companion was required. Straight to the local ASPCA I marched, and home with me came the tiniest, squirreliest little tuxedo kitten. I had wanted a girl and thought I had one all picked out but because of a mix-up I wound up with this little boy- what would become one of the happiest mistakes of my life.        

I didn't know how to be with a cat in the beginning as this was my first experience. I'd be lying if I said i remembered much of the start. It was over 10 years ago and I wasn't in my right mind. But I remember little things. He was active. He would play with and try to eat people's hair. He slept in bed with me. He was adorable. Soon we settled into life together and he made my pain of being alone and having to make all new friends that much more bearable. No matter what I went through, I always had that love to come home to, and it was always enough to keep me going. That was just the first time he saved my life. Throughout the following 10 years, whenever great pain struck my heart and I found myself on the ground in a heap, sobbing, he was there. Countless number of times I sobbed into his fur. Eventually it became his one pet peeve- he was rarely violent except for when he heard loud crying. One time I sat in my bed crying over a boy.... loudly... And he hopped up, walked over to me slowly, and bit my face. As if to say- "enough already." I punished him big time, I was so angry. And hurt. But hey, he took my mind off that boy for a minute!
 In spite of that though, he still let me cry a lot. He was always there, he had no choice. But whenever I was down I could hold him in my arms and he would purr and nuzzle me. We would sit in silence and love each other and his love would seep in and plug up the holes in my heart. He had a magic for that that no one else does. So many men came in and out of my life but I would hold him through each broken heart and say "you're the only boy that matters, the only one that will never leave me".   
And then, he did. Not by his choice I know. Everything dies. But just as I was off saying goodbye to one more love and expecting to come home to my most important boy who I knew would carry me through it... Everything changed forever. 

         So now I sit here, the most massive hole I think I've ever felt in my heart- and no fur to cry into. No inquisitive little boy hopping up to keep me company. Nothing to hold in my arms as I fall asleep at night. (The song I sang for him in my solo show- "why won't you cuddle", was actually a huge lie. He cuddled me every single night I spent with him for the last few years.)  I hit the last few steps of the stairwell outside my door and pause, waiting to hear his expectant meow. He always knew my footsteps on the stairs and would start the greetings long before I walked in. But it is silent. I turn the key and open the door waiting to see that funny face so thrilled to see me, and it isn't there. I sit on the couch and can't help glancing over at his favorite spots- nothing. I replay the last time I saw him in my mind- sitting on the edge of the orange couch, just watching me leave again. I had been gone from him so long (I imagine 4 weeks feels like an eternity for a cat.) and here I was, in and out again, another suitcase in hand. Thank God the first thing I did when I got home that night was hold him. But I can't remember if I actually went over and kissed him goodbye before walking out. I know I said "see you in a few days". I couldn't WAIT to get back and FINALLY spend some real time with him again. It was only 4 days, I could've never imagined that I wouldn't get to. But we don't get a say in these things. He is not on that spot on the couch anymore. He is not in my bed with me as he always would be when I was here. He doesn't follow me into the bathroom to lick the condensation off of the shower. Doesn't beg to drink from the kitchen sink. I look and I look but he is nowhere to be found. And I am left feeling empty, and broken.... A piece of me gone forever. 
        That boy, that gift that kept on giving... Brought so much joy and love into my life. Helped me through so many rough spots. Loved me unconditionally in the way that only a pet can. He gave me a reason to be happy and excited to get home every day, alone or not. Because I was never alone so long as he was there. I miss him in a way I can't really put into words, a way that shakes me to my core. I don't know when it will stop hurting. I'm secretly fearful of him fading away into distant memory. But for now it is fresh and I think about him every day, wherever he may be. I will continue to honor his memory and keep hanging in there, because I have no choice. But my life is forever changed without that sweet little boy. Last week I said my final goodbye and sobbed into his fur one last time, and those tears will make it into the urn I collect next week that holds what is left of him. And with those remains and those tears, will also be the piece of my heart that he has held since the first day I held him.

Rest in Peace my sweet boy, I love and miss you forever.