Apr. 2003-Oct. 23, 2016
[Photo taken in happier times, AKA one week ago.]
His death was sudden and shocking: both very quick and—in the bleak final hours—excruciatingly slow, brutal, and painful. I went from praying that he would live long enough to make it to the euthanasia appointment the vet and I had scheduled for 10:30 this morning (in case the last-ditch home remedies didn’t work overnight) to pleading with the universe to please let just him go.
At 3:12 this morning, convulsing on the bathroom floor where he always loved to laze, his head cupped in my hands, my baby went.
Oh my dearest, darling Nath.
You stupid, dumbass, beloved little shit, who never found a bit of plastic or lint on the floor (or even random flicker of shadow either, let’s be honest!) that you didn’t feel compelled to eat: I have no idea what you found to scarf up over the last few days that turned your tummy into a graveyard, but I am truly sorry I could not save you from yourself. You got into so many mishaps over the years because you found the whole of your world too fascinating to worry over every little detail, like “is this actually edible?” or “will this set me on fire?”
I’m still relieved, for instance, that you never accomplished worse than a light singeing in those early years with the glasstop stove. Remember? You’d watch the coffee-making process so intently that you kept forgetting the basic equation of ‘Cat Tail + Red-Hot Burner = Scorched Nathan.’ Only when your poppa or I began to sniff the air intently—”do you smell something burning??”—would you begin to sniff with us, your comical little face scrunched up in agreement. “Hey, you’re right! Something DOES smell like it’s burning!”
I don’t think you ever realized the burning thing was you. Which let you be highly fascinated all over again, a minute or two later, when you found the strangely melted spot on the tip of your tail and happily set about licking it to rights.
Thank you, beloved boy, for 12 years of a friendship that was as often challenging as it was loving.
Thank you for learning to trust me, after all those rough months fending for yourself as a kitten on the mean streets of West Philly in winter after your first family abandoned you, leaving you perennially hungry for affection…and afraid of humans who offered it. (Except children. You adored children, and they adored you.)
Thank you for forgiving me when your beloved poppa, the one who picked you out at the shelter and brought you into our home all those years ago (where he played your favorite roughhouse games and taught you things like how getting brushed was much more fun when you stopped biting and just let it happen), decided that not only did he not want me any longer—he didn’t want to be your person anymore either.
I hope you know I always wanted you.
And thank you for these past ten months since Hildi passed, when for the first time ever it was just you and me, learning new ways to be with one another. I feel like I finally figured out how to love you so you got it…and you finally figured out how to trust me enough to let my love in.
I learned more from loving you than I can put into words. I am so grateful to have been your person.
Thank you, precious beloved, for having been my cat.