As most of you know, I lost Greebo, the most awesome cat I ever met on Monday last week.
Unlike our normal issues with euthanasia for a cat, in this case there was no second guessing. Greebo had an intestinal tumor which had metastasized to his liver and probably elsewhere in his body. For three days, he’d been huddled in pain, not coming to the bed to sleep with me, or to greet me inn the morning. Not following me around. Not moving.
I know what we did was mercy, and honestly we probably only took a week of his life, and it would be a week in pain, as he slowly starved to death. I couldn’t do that to my buddy.
And I entered the land of grief. Look, I come from a culture where you don’t mourn for a pet. And Portuguese cats live much shorter lives, too. So, though I usually break every time I lose one, I normally don’t show it. I can’t. Most of the time I hide it from me.
But Greebo…. It’s not just that he was part of my life, a close companion, like… what most people view a dog as being. That picture is of him sitting on the arm of the chair I sit in in the evenings. That was his perch, in the evening. In the morning he came to greet me before I was fully conscious. he waited outside the bathroom if I had to go to the bathroom in the night. he slept curled up to me. He slept on my feet if I was writing.
So, yeah, I’m going to notice his absence. But it’s not even that. It’s that Greebo loved me. He loved me unconditionally, desperately, and irrationally. What I mean is I have no idea why.
I mean, he liked my husband, and he liked Marshall, and he liked older son and DIL too, but he LOVED me. I was the focus of his world. It was as though the sun rose out of me. Which is weird. Because I’m nothing special.
But that kind of love, unconditional and unexpected, creates a bond. It was impossible not to love him back. (Even if he hadn’t been the world’s best cat, which he was.)
I could hold him and pet him, and we two existed in a place no one else could touch.
There are… compensations. While I allowed him to suffer what must have been awful pain (he hid it. He was a proud sob) he never lost his dignity. He never broke box training, never forgot who he was. He had three really bad days. But not bad enough to make him lose his dignity.
May we all be so lucky.
The thing is, though, that he made me understand the awe of being chosen.
I’ve never had much use for it. If someone told me I was the one to save mankind, they wouldn’t finish the sentence before I disappeared running over the horizon. If some moist bint tried to hand me the sword of power, I’d tell her to put it where the sun don’t shine.
Who needs that kind of responsibility.
And yet, the responsibility of being the chosen one of a 16lb, muscular scrap of midnight and dream?
Sure, it still scared the living daylights out of me. But it also made me feel a strange mix of love and gratitude in return. It made me the center of the universe. A very small universe, seen through cat eyes, but a universe, anyway.
I miss that.
Sure, I miss his silky soft fur, those very serious eyes. (I SWEAR he was the only cat who could raise an eyebrow. I mean he didn’t do it, but he had this way of giving me the look that meant “Really?” usually when I told him that I was going to the office to write inaminute, just let me finish this job.) I miss his croaky-rusty meow. I miss the headbutting, the purr that could be heard across the room. I miss the occasional, very rare lick-kiss.
But I also miss our relationship. I miss knowing what we had was important and exclusive, and ours.
BUT enough of my being maudlin. Yes, I’m grieving for him. Weirdly, because in my heart-values he read as human, I’m mourning him as a human. An exceptionally innocent and devoted human.
So, as I do, and apparently the same as Dave Freer, I’ve decided overwork is the cure for this. Because I don’t know what else to do with myself.
We have three rooms left to floor, and tomorrow I start clearing the next one (which is actually more work than laying down the floor, particularly as that room is crammed with stuff that hasn’t been returned to the offices (and should be.)
Being tired allows one to sleep.
And today, weirdly, I found I could write again. Not much, but at least a little bit. It feels very distant and weird.
But 2020 is a killer, and I’m determined to survive it.
I’m going to try to block out a couple of hours a day to write, before resuming the house-rebuilding.
It’s made more difficult by the fact this creature:
Havey cat, who on a good day has the brains of warm milk, and who was Greebo’s best buddy (look, who knows?) obviously was left strict instructions about looking after mom.
This means he yells at me till I go to the office, but then either sits on my lap, making it hard to type over him, or he prances back and forth across my keyboard, looking for love in all the wrong places.
I’m training him to at least lie still in my lap. As much as one can train Havey.
He’s clingy and a bit annoying, and at night he calls for Greebo all over the house. But I’m trying to be good to him, and love him.
And maybe between the two of us we’ll be all right, and he’ll be a trained writers’ cat when I’m done.
It’s worth a try.