12/30/2013

Pet deaths

Last night, I carried the lifeless body of one my new cats upstairs from the basement, where he had gone to die. I'm not sure what happened to Cow, a big white cat I've had since late August when I agreed to look after him and a little black kitten for a short time. That short time turned into permanent companionship, although that's now turned out to be short, too.

The kitten is now almost full-grown, and she's not sure what's going on. She's been extra clingy with me, and I'm pondering converting her to an indoor cat so as not to tempt fate.

Two days ago, both of them sat with me as I wrote here in this place I've carved out as my office within my home. I'm right next to their food. 

Well, her food now, I guess.

This is the second of my pets that has died this year. My dog Billy died in September after a quick illness ravaged his body, which was at least 12 years old. I miss him terribly, and Cow's death is making me feel the freshness of that wound all over again.

Karen, the black cat, is currently sitting in Cow's old perch near the stove. That's the only place in my house where the mice visit. It's winter, and they're searching for food and shelter. She knows this, and is watching for them.

A friend of mine comforted me today by saying that cats are mysterious creatures. Outdoor cats especially. They go out into the world and try to make it their own. In that way, this death is different from that of Billy, who died of old age. He had that old age because he was protected from the outdoors. He was only supposed to go out under my supervision, though he routinely escaped the house and had his adventures. Billy must have gone on a hundred quests out there in the past five years. He had that way about him, and he always came back.

Cow did, too, and Cow came back to die yesterday. My downstairs tenant came upstairs around 8:30 last night to say that he didn't think the cat was doing well. I went downstairs a few minutes later, and carried him upstairs. I didn't know it yet, but he was dead. I'll now never forget the sensation of picking up a creature I cared about feeling so light and lifeless. I laid him on the couch upstairs, and thought he was still alive. The thought of his death was so foreign to me, because I just got him.

I won't be writing any eulogies about his long life, but I can say that he was here for me during this past week, a week that was a journey through sadness and anxiety. His presence, as well as Karen's, kept me feeling needed at a time when I felt so alone. I thank him for that and wish his afterlife is a happy one. 

Karen is now staring at the clock, as if she's waiting for him to come home. She sniffed his body last night, but I don't know if his passing registered with her. She's staring at the clock, and then staring at me, as if I have an answer. 

I do.

Despite the possibility of loss and mourning, I am thinking of getting a companion to be with her. At this point I don't know when or how this will occur, but I do know that I have room in my heart for them. I am not so jaded and shut-down that I can't accept love from these small animals who become so much of our lives.

I never wanted pets as an adult, but these three found me. 

And now Karen sits solemn on top of my kitchen sink, staring up at a clock she can not read. It just occurred to me that she sees the movement of the seconds hand. I don't know what's going through her mind, but I know curiosity when I see it.

I don't want it to kill her, and I want to try to protect her as best I can. She bonded with me more than Cow did, and her passing would devastate me. I live on a busy road, and there are so many predators out there looking for a chance to take her down. People will advise me to keep her indoors, but I also know her nature and I may be willing to continue taking the risk of letting her out. 

After all, I secretly condoned Billy's adventures, knowing that's what he wanted to do. I went looking for him every time he snuck out, and he always came back. 

Cow and Billy aren't coming back, but so many people in our lives don't come back. Either they die or they fade away from our consciousness. What's important is to remember them, all of them, and remember the role every creature plays in our lives. 

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