It's been seven days; one week now since Storm died. Fourteen meals he's missed. Seven cans of unopened cat food I've given away. I thought I would bounce back faster than this. He was a great cat but he was just a cat. And I've lost pets before. Many. Our very first cat got its' neck snapped inside a reclining chair while I was playing with its' tail and it peed all over my hand as it died. It was very upsetting but I was young and I had my brother and my sister and my mother and my step-father in the house and soon there were two more cats (and then one of those died quite young of feline leukemia) and even another brother and sister. This it seems, is different.
The odd thing is how much my brain still thinks he's around. Every clump of dark clothing out of the corner of my eye is Storm. Every time I close my bedroom door (something I've been unable to do for over a decade since he used to destroy carpet and door frames if left locked in or out of anywhere I went) my brain screams "don't close the door Storm might need to use the litterbox!" I haven't even been able to motivate myself enough to throw his things away. His litterbox still sits in its' place. His food and water dishes have sat, dehydrating and rotting respectively where they have sat for the last few years.
I've been unable to write his eulogy and what he meant to me which... lets be honest here is a lot more for me than him at this point.
I have to remind myself every time I go near the front door or my housemate leaves the front door open that I will never have to worry about Storm escaping into the wild ever again. He has made his escape. And he isn't coming back.
It amazes me how much he was integrated into my life. Everything I do, everywhere I go I am reminded not of him but of his absence. It's a jarring, unpleasant sensation to be constantly reminded that something, someone that has been there for so long is now, quite suddenly gone.
I thought I would share his last picture.
He is very sick (in the picture). But he hadn't been outside for years and I wanted to give him a moment in the sun before I took him to the vet to be put down. He was so light and could barely hold his head up.
I laid him there. And talked to him for awhile. His fur was warm in the sun. I went inside and got a couple things to wrap him up in for the car trip. And when we were already ten minutes late for an appointment that was fifteen minutes away I bundled him up and put him in the car. But he was too fragile. Already too far gone. And he died on the way there.
The people at Bhodi Animal Hospital
were incredibly kind. Despite me being quite late for what was an emergency appointment on a Sunday and being up to their elbows in living critters and their owners they jumped the moment I explained the circumstances I was in and I won't soon forget the tenderness with which the technician cradled Storm's body as she removed him from the car and brought him inside.
I imagine I won't soon forget any of this. Least of all my friend. Who was a tremendous pain in the ass sometimes. But a beast of burden of astonishing strength. And what I mean by that is; there is a Christian allegory about Jesus and footprints in the sand. I won't repeat it here. I'm not especially religious and you can google it if you aren't familiar with the story. But the upshot is that when the man talking to Jesus looks back on his life, he sees places on the beach (his path) where there is only one set of footprints and Jesus tells him that it was in those most difficult times that he carried the man.
At the risk of seeming blasphemous I would say that were I to look back on the last fifteen or so years of my life there would be many times where there were only paw prints to mark my passage.
Thank you all for the kind words in my previous post and thanks especially to my little sister Amy Tracy Carlson and my brother Chad E. Carlson. This last week would have been a lot harder without their help. Again.
In the last week of his life I kept hoping he would bounce back. He'd always been so tough. He got mauled by a coyote a few years ago and after being missing for two days came hopping in the front door, bleeding all over the place, like it was a normal Tuesday evening and all was right in the world.
But it was obvious by Friday that he was going to leave me. And I spent the time left alternately wishing he would pass quickly and scrambling to stop time and make every moment with him precious.
He was never a "cuddly" cat. Too smart for his own good and too stubborn to learn anything from his mistakes he was a little too much like me for comfort. I don't think he ever really trusted humans much after he was left at the Humane Society by his first family (he was a couple years old when I adopted him). But every once in awhile I would wake up in the morning with him asleep on my stomach; head on my chest and just be amazed that a creature could affect me so much.
Anyone who has ever had a cat knows the contortions you twist yourself into to accommodate them in the vain hope they will share your bed and keep you company through the night. About ten days before he died; I knew he was sick and didn't have too much time left... though I overestimated how much, I awoke on one such occasion and I thought to myself "is this it? Is this the last time I'll wake up like this with my friend snoozing on my chest and using me as a human heating pad?" And it turned out it was. And after a couple seconds he detected I was awake, jumped off of me and demanded his breakfast.
They say we are all the hero of our own story. I was never the hero when Storm was around. I was Alfred to his Batman. His life, even these last few years in retirement, was far more interesting and eventful than my own. I was the place he came to when he needed care. Food, shelter, medicine, a bath. I was his home. And now he's gone. And I miss him so profoundly that it's hard to even talk about without losing control of myself.
I hope I can find a way to let you go my friend. I hope you can stop haunting me. I hope you can find that place you were always looking for all your life but never seemed to find. And I hope someday to see you again.