Friday, February 24, 2017

Our Boy, Patrick.

A little after two this morning, I was awakened by a couple of strange cries coming from the bathroom where our cat, Patrick, liked to sleep on a blanket laid out for him. He suffered a seizure about a year ago, and it seems he'd had another, or maybe a stroke. He died almost immediately, as far as I can tell. My wife and I rushed to revive him, but death, as you know, is quicker than the best intention and deaf to the most desperate prayer.

He was about two months shy of his eighteenth birthday, which somehow equates to about 88 in people years. Although he took a pill twice a day (kitty chemo, we called it) and had other health problems, we sat there with him for a while, stunned, petting him and saying his name. Our boy was gone.

We always called him our boy. Donna had him longer than she's had me. I had the two of them for almost fifteen years. She found him as a rain-soaked kitten in Myrtle Beach and took him in. She tried to give him away many times because they hated each other at first. Then they came to an understanding, and soon they loved each other. I guess it took him a while to tolerate me when they joined me in Oregon. He certainly seemed to like me just fine once I was doing things for him, such as giving him water upon request (he liked it warm from the tap, lately insisting it be poured into the bell of a watering can for him to lap at). "Spoy-YULD!" Donna would say, as if she wasn't constantly inclined to indulge him herself.
She knew the meaning of every purr, chirp and yowl. We wondered if, in his dotage, he was in any pain, but he seemed mostly okay. He had trouble getting around for the last ten years or so, since a fall from our deck nearly killed him. But he rallied and survived, even if he had less grace to show for it.

It hasn't been a full day yet but it feels like a week. If I'm upset, then Donna is devastated, inconsolable. I want him back, she cries.

I look around at the many artifacts in our now-quieter home that evince that he existed, and the thought occurs to me to be rid of them all now, to sweep them away like a tearful drunk clearing a tabletop of spent bottles with the swipe of an arm. Then I think I want to preserve them just as they are for ever (which would be odd), and then a moment later I'd like to collect them all together, right here in front of me, like a museum display or a shrine (which would be even odder).

I guess the watering can will go into the bathroom closet now. Should I push the blanketed ottoman away from the window, where he took his sun-bathed naps, and return it to the edge of the chair where it supposedly belongs? How do I change his litter liner--no, not change, remove, the last one, this last time--without blubbering like an idiot?

He was just a pet, right? Well, no. He took care of us. Not like we took care of him of course, but he cared. I can see his face now, close, as if inches from mine, like when he'd lay on my chest as I reclined on the couch. He'd look right in my eyes and I'd wonder what he was thinking. I suspect he looked at me and thought, Who are you? But I think he knew. I'd look at him and think, who are you? And I knew, too.

He was our boy, Patrick.


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