I was thinking a lot about Marley the other day. I blame it on my Kindle, which allowed me to purchase Laurie Notaro’s Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death for cheap, which contains a chapter called “Ready Or Not,” about when her dog came down with a very similar immunodeficiency disease and died. Like mine. Ours. Graham doesn’t like it when I only say my dog. To be fair, she was his first and then became ours.
Anyway, I was reading “Ready Or Not” during a break at work and realized that I needed to pull it together, man. I’d already blinked too hard a couple of times, and if I didn’t reign it in, I’d be crying. At work. And that is unacceptable. It’s just that everything was so similar. Not just the diagnosis, which was sudden and terrible. But everything, from reaching to the backseat on the way to the animal hospital to tell your dog it’s okay, to realizing that they way they stand up when you come into the room is requiring all the energy they have, to letting some vet tech take them away from you, to the back where there are needles and IV drips, to such a serious place that you might not ever see them again.
And this is where I stopped writing.
I stopped writing what I’d started writing because I was about to get far more personal than I am even comfortable thinking, let alone sharing on the Internet. It’s just that thinking about Marley makes me think of my friends who have lost their pets recently, and even though I know how sad it is (and how sad it stays, no lie), there’s very little that I know how to say to them.
So instead of trying (and failing, and probably crying), I’m going to do something that I wish I had done more of when our dog was still alive – tell the Internet that she was so great. But I don’t have Marley anymore (haven’t you been paying attention?), so that leaves…
The above photo was taken years ago in my old apartment on Morganford, but miraculously, I don’t think The Cat has gained any weight since then. This is an important detail because The Cat is huge. Like, huuuuuuge. And I don’t mean “shaped like an overstuffed haggis huge,” like my best friend’s childhood cat Gus who ate my hair one night during a sleepover. The Cat can still get up and go to the bathroom on his own. He’s not too terribly fat; at least, he’s not only fat. He’s tall, he’s long, and he’s just big. He’s strong like a motherfucker, too, and does not hesitate to push at me with his meaty man arms when I’m doing stuff like saving his life (ie, carrying him by the armpits down to the basement during last spring’s tornado scares).
I got The Cat for my 20th birthday. I was living in Virginia at the time and had been begging my now ex-husband for a kitten. He claimed to be allergic to cats and said no, but on my birthday, he left the apartment on the pretense of getting my gift. When he returned, he opened the door but was not standing on the other side of it. Instead, I saw his arms lift something into the air and fling it into the room. A mass of black and white fur sailed through my living room and then tore ass for the bedroom, where it stayed under the bed for three days.
When I asked him why he’d gotten me an adult cat instead of a kitten, he said, “I saw him sitting in the corner of the cage while all the kittens played around him, and he looked pissed off.”
The Cat’s name was supposedly Elmo, which is not only supergay but was probably never used, as his previous family kept him in their garage all the time. I tried other names on him, but nothing fit. “The Cat” fits. Seriously. Ask anyone who hangs out at my house.
The Cat has accompanied me on three cross-country moves to five different apartments. He has
stood sat in the car on the corner in Winslow, Arizona and was watched by a kindly ticket booth guy when I went to look at the Meteor Crater. He does not like cheap motels, but he loves hotel suites. You can pet him like a dog. He doesn’t mind. In fact, he gets annoyed when you treat him daintily. And I know every cat owner says this, but take it from me (a dog person!) when I say that The Cat is more doglike than any cat I’ve ever known. He waits by the door for me. He comes when you call him (he responds not only to “The Cat” and “Cat,” but also to “Stink” and “ARE YOU CRAZY, GET OFF THE FUCKING TABLE!”). If there is sliced lunchmeat in the house, he loses his fatass mind.
Sometimes I look at him after he’s been yowling at me for the full three minutes since I walked in the door and haven’t pet him immediately and I can’t believe he’s been with me for 8 years. Then I remind myself that the oldest cat I ever had lived for only twice that long, and I wonder how it’s going to feel when I let him go.
Because I might not have all that time left. So I just wanted to say that.
…for Ally, Boris, and – of course – Marley.