Saying Goodbye

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Alison said “Baby, the light’s green” a second before I clicked the button. I didn’t completely understand the weight of the moment but it was something I had to do.

In 2001, I cried for the last time. Don’t get me wrong, my tear ducts work, and if I’m cutting onions or stub my toe, something’s happening there. Emotional tears, though? Sometimes I feel like an actor missing his cue. I know the line but I can’t get it out.

We had to get to the vet office by 8 in the morning. That’s when it opened and we did not have an appointment. We were hustled into an exam room and waited. This was it. Alison asked me if I would hold him. I accepted the bony old grey tabby and when he got into position, he started purring. It was the first time he had purred in two days and as it turned out, the last time as well. I lost it and had to take off my glasses.

The vet said the words and while we knew what they meant, there was an air of disbelief. This guy is immortal, we thought. He cheated death once already, which I suppose isn’t that impressive, him being a cat and all. We moved across the hall to another room, one with a couch. The assistant took him back to get an catheter.

I met Stingray Gordon Sumner Law (feel free to make fun of the name tomorrow), then Friddell, in 2002. Alison told me that her cat did this very un-catlike trick, fetching a paper ball. She threw the ball, he looked at it, as if saying “you are on your own”. He was used to being the “cat” of the house, and me being a mere human, well, it took a little time to warm up. In time I’d come home from work and as we waited for Alison to get there I’d get on the couch and he’d climb aboard, doing a little flip so that we could “toven”. He’d roll over so I could pet his belly and we’d usually fall asleep. I stared saying “roll over kittytoven” and that was that.

Cats make you lose your mind a bit. You create conversations, and come up with voices and sayings that make even your closest friends think “they’ve gone mental”. There’s no better cure for feeling crappy than the purr.

We set up on the couch, the vet kind of on the side, Alison holding Sting with his IV catheter thing and me on the other side. The procedure was simple. The first shot gave the cat a drug similar to the one that Michael Jackson used to death. It was supposed to give the cat a euphoric feeling. The second shot was an overdose of a sedative. The second shot came about a minute after the first, and my skeptic brain thought “that seemed too quick”. In any case, Sting was gone and a lump of fur was left. It was that quick.

It made sense that I, as the emotionally stunted one, would drive home. We told stories about the amazing Sting, how we declared that I was his “breakfast bitch” because he woke me up every morning to be fed. He did fetch, although he quickly tired of the game. He had a toy called the ‘wonder worm’, a green and orange worm (wordsmith here) that he’d carry in his mouth while meowing at the same time. Because Alison got him at such a young age, he always cuddled on her neck, even when he grew from one pound to about 15, then shrunk back to five due to cancer and old age.

We got home and I found the picture I took earlier in the morning. The tears flowed again without warning. Yesterday was a very bad day, but I’d say that 17 years of mostly good ones make up for it.

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