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Why do kitties have to die? II

I want my buddy back. I know I can't--I know he's not coming back. But it's still hard to, not just know it, but feel it without my chest imploding like a dying star. My buddy is gone. My bigguy is gone. And I miss him.

At the end of this post, I'll include the poem (the dirge?) I wrote and read to him before the vet came in with the needles; before I held him for one last, infinite snuggle; exactly as in the poem--held against my heart as his stopped beating; as he left me, forever.

Goodbye 2015, goodbye Marcel.

I had Marcel for almost 16yrs; over half my life. He's been my companion, my little buddy, my bigguy for so's hard to think of him not being there, somewhere, either curled up like a dozey little dork or out claiming his territory with a genially imperious posture. But what I came home to today: A home without Marcel, a life without Marcel.
Marcel prefers to read for me.
I am so grateful for every moment I had with him. Every snuggle, every squawk, every silly thing he did. And while it's hard missing him, I'm glad to have had him in my life. As I let myself have a good, lon sob before writing this, I thanked him for every good memory I was blessed to have with him.

This morning, after much ado finding a hospital that could take him on short notice, we took him in. Around noon, I held him in my arms as he passed, my tears streaming, throat seizing, as I said my goodbyes.y mother and good friend Parker, both of whom shared intimate, vivid memories with this most remarkable feline, were there to help me through it. Afterwards we went to IHOP then cleaned all his kitty things to store them in the basement. I couldn't have gotten through any of it without their help. It was hard enough hearing the vet tell me; it was even harder saying goodbye and clearing away the evidences of his life.

But he is gone now. His chapter in my life is over. I know I did the right thing--sparing him the discomfort, the pain, the bitter end of clinging too hard for too long against the inevitable passing on. I let that happen to Cali, and it was awful. I couldn't let that happen to Marcel, no matter how badly I wanted to hold on to him. It was time to let him go, and it was right. I kept his collar; it's currently resting in my pocket--a little, familiar, barely tolerable jingle when I move about.

Now comes the hard part: The missing. Those hard moments when I think I see him out of the corner of my eye, only to remember half a moment later. Those usual habits and expectations--seeing his food bowl and mat gone, no longer having to navigate past his litter box. Never seeing him curled up on my bed and never again my heart warming on seeing it. No more squawks or snuggles or silly things. No more bigguy; no more Marcel.

A couple months ago, things changed. He wasn't eating right; he wasn't coming up for snuggles; he was throwing up now and then. I realized he was losing weight fast, so I added wet food to his diet; he ate it voraciously, and gained back some weight. But things only improved marginally, and not for long. Although he was eating, soon he was pooping and urinating outside his box. I changed the litter box set up to some effect; it helped but didnt fix it. He wasn't moving well; he'd confine himself to small areas--an armchair, a door mat, a corner of the kitchen, the porch.

This was not my Marcel.
This, on the other hand, is my Marcel.
Last night I took him to the vet. I hoped, as the vet and I had pondered on another occasion, it was just kidney failure ("just"!); treatable if badly inconvenient for all involved. It took the intern one second to notice the tautness of his belly; the vet one minute to find the masses. He spared me a scare, just in case, and excused himself and Marcel to take a closer look on the ultrasound. A few minutes later, he brought me over to see the ultrasound.

It wasn't good.

Marcel was always a trooper. Calm and stoical, he ruled the neighborhood--overpowering other cats with a long, hard, but nonchalant stare. He knew who he was. If he wasn't staring down other cats, he was sleeping on top of people's cars, carefree and comfortable. If he wasn't sleeping, he was hunting; he was a beast at that: My mom tells a tale of his hauling a baby rabbit around with no trouble; he once brought me a squirrel.
A wild Marcel appears!
He was always eager to befriend anyone--without being insistent or fussy. Casual; cool. One friend remarked how unreserved and how unhesitant he was--Marcel did not understand shyness when it came to people, really. He was so unassuming and friendly that even avowed cat-haters could make some slight exception for Marcel. He was a charming devil, and he loved every moment of it.

He'd sometimes come running if he saw me or walk me home at a amiable gait. He'd follow me upstairs and jump on the bed for a scratch behind the ears; and who could say no, regardless of their hurry?

He couldn't meow. Sure, occasionally he could get out some lower tone if he tried, but 9 times out of 10 all he managed was a pinched off kind of squawk. He had a dot on each cheek. He remind us of a mime, of Marcel Marceau. So that's what we called him.

A month or so ago, he stopped even coming upstairs. If he went out, more and more he'd just curl up on the porch. This cat, Marcel, the king of snuggle buddies, wasn't snuggling any more.

And then last night I knew why--then I saw why. There on the ultrasound screen, plain as day, were one or two, maybe even three, huge masses. They were already taking up a third of his abdomen, but the vet estimated from their coarseness they'd only begun developing between 6 and 8 weeks ago. They were too extensive and aggressive to remove and unlikely to respond to treatment. Marcel had maybe a week or two before they seriously impeded his organs. At best, he wouldn't even be with us a month from now.
On a different visit to the vet.
And you know something? All the while we're having this conversation over him, he's stretched out on this long u-shaped bed, back feet hanging off lazily, two nurses/interns attending him behind his ears and chin (his favorite spots next to his chest, which also got some love), half-dozing contentedly. No restraints, no fuss. Just chilling.

That's Marcel for you. Even as the vet informs me the dire prognosis; even as these malignancies were killing him from the inside out; even as I choke back tears, choke on the words, "So what do we do know?", knowing too, too well the answer; there he was, having a casually grand time.

That was my Marcel. And, goddamnit, I miss him.

Here is the poem I worked on the same morning. It was tough at first finding what to say to him that would encapsulate everything he meant to me. I wrote a similar poem (and a similar post) for another cat we put down, Cali. As anticipated, I could get through the whole thing--too many tears, too little breath, among the sobs. I've italicized the omitted portions..

more or less as read to him before he was euthanized in my arms

Hey there, buddy,
Hey there, sweet pea.
I want you to know
You’ve been a great guy, the best guy,
—You’re my guy, my bigguy.
It’s been so long
—Over half my life
And all of yours—
And now it’s come to this.
But those clichés mean next to nothing
Too many particulars about you
To ever capture you with a cliché.
You’re my one of a kind guy
—You’re my guy, my bigguy.

I remember when I could hold you in my hand,
And you’d knead the air
Like you were trying to swim.
I remember how we named you:
With a dot on each cheek,
You reminded us of a mime;
You could only ever squawk, never meow
—Mute, like a mime.
So we called you Marcel.
I remember when you brought me a squirrel
(How the fuck did you even catch a squirrel?)
I remember how you’d sleep
Sometimes curled up like a diver
With your back legs pulled up against your face.
I remember how you could (and would)
Make a friend out of anyone
As soon as you met them,
No wariness or hesitation
—How even cat haters could make an exception.
I remember how sometimes you’d see me
And come running
Or casually walk me home.
I remember how you’d do things
So perfectly cute, always sweet but often dorky,
I’d imagine you’d planned them,
Rehearsed them,
For maximum endearment.
And it worked. It always worked.
You had me then,
You had me always.

I remember that first time
I realized you really were irreplaceable.
I lay on my side in bed after a breakup,
And you gave me one half-long look,
One look, exactly a beat long,
Before rolling onto your side into my chest.
I remember wrapping my hand
Under you to pull you close
And you didn’t fight
And you didn’t pull away
But closed your eyes and purred
And we half-dozed like that, spooning
In the sun filtered through sycamore leaves
Dappled in the warm fluid light and life,
And we lay there.
And I knew you’d always be there,
You’d always be my guy, my bigguy.

And how many times since
Have we spooned like that
When I needed you most,
You were there, either with me
As I fell asleep
But though I need you now,
I know, I know: I know that you must go.
I know this will be our last snuggle.

No more will you snuggle me to sleep,
Or as I read a book, or with some strange friend,
No more will I know you’re there, somewhere,
Good for a snuggle, good for a friend.
No more will you sit there, genially imperious,
Among a group of people busily chatting
And though they weren’t petting you
You’d close your eyes and listen,
happy to be around people.
No more will you be there,
But you will always be my bigguy.

And I thank you for the memories
I thank you for helping me get here
For helping me get through this.
But I know it’s your time,
And I know it’s time to let go.
I’ll always love my bigguy,
My big, sweet, silly guy.
Goodbye, bigguy.
I love you.


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