Pictures are all we have left. In the end, all I could do was hold him, because he loved being in my arms, and pet him gently while he crossed over. He'd been absolutely miserable for the last few weeks; the oxygen they'd given him made him more comfortable, and there were a few moments after the sedative took effect when he was calm and contented. I miss him.
Curio : photos.google.com
A bear walks into a bar, and puts a dollar in the jar.
"Kahlúa and cream, Mike." It's not his usual genever, but he's not the first bear to order that drink this week. He takes it to the chalk line and stands for a while, sipping the drink and fingering something in his pocket. Finally, he raises the glass.
"To Curio!", he says, and flings the glass into the fireplace.
He was always my cat, ever since he walked up to me in the shelter two years ago and said so. My sister had to translate for him -- I wasn't very fluent in feline at the time.
He was the most outgoing and easygoing of our cats, always willing to accept attention from anybody, but I'm the one he followed around, and asked to be picked up and carried by. He spent a lot of time on Colleen's lap, too, and when he started getting picky about food, she would empty a can of catfood into a small bowl and make sure he ate it.
At night I would pat the laundry hamper in the hallway and say "Up", and he would jump up for me to carry upstairs to bed, though he often leapt out of my arms and ran up the stairs ahead of me. Most nights he slept on our bed.
I made a pad of folded leopard-print, fuzzy fabric and set it on my desk so that he could lie or sit there and be petted while I worked on the computer. He made an excellent villain's cat. He liked high places; I once found him on the highest shelf in our bathroom, afraid to come down. Perhaps he knew I'd come rescue him.
Maybe a month ago he started eating less, and became more solitary. His breathing became labored. His last two weeks I would often come home to find that he'd spent all day in our closet, or on the cool tiles of the shower stall. I would carry him to Colleen, but he would only pick at his food. His last week, he was completely miserable; we made the earliest appointment we could. It was barely soon enough.
The vet put him on oxygen and took X-rays; there was fluid filling his abdomen and chest cavity, compressing his lungs, and surrounding his heart. There were a couple of possibilities, all but one inevitably fatal. There was a chance that it was a diaphramatic hernia, which might have been fixable by surgery, but the most likely thing was feline infectious peritonitis. The next most likely was cancer.
I called Colleen, and then Naomi, who drove down to the vet's to meet us. Colleen told me she had already said her goodbyes. Naomi asked whether we could take him home to see the kids, who were coming back from New York the next day; but it was iffy. He was already in bad shape, and the thought of letting him die alone in the closet was apalling. He was my cat, and I had to do what was best for him, no matter how much it hurt. He was in misery, and there was only one thing I could do for him.
I held him in my arms, where he loved to be, while the sedative took effect, Naomi stroking his head. There was a little while, at the end, when his breathing became easier; he looked calm and contented. He must have known his people were helping him the only way we could. We laid him on the counter and stroked him until after his heart had stopped. His eyes were still bright.
Somewhere in there, Naomi reminded me that cats live in the moment, and we had done the best we could to make his last moments good ones, surrounded by the people he loved.
And he had one last gift for me: he taught me to cry again. Long ago, I forgot how. Thank you, Curio, for giving me back my tears.
The bear sits back down, and puts a tattered red collar on the table in front of him.
In the end, he walked across the Rainbow Bridge calmly, eyes open and tail held high. In Valhalla, he's finally able to go outside, get wasted on catnip, and sleep on the grass in the sunlight. In the evening he walks across the tables -- he was never a lap cat except for Colleen -- and begs for scraps from the feasting warriors. He's especially fond of beef.
Sometimes, late at night, he'll go visiting. There's a petrified forest where it's always twilight, and a glade where stands an Amethyst Rose with obsidian thorns as sharp as Curio's claws. Sometimes Bast goes with him. Bast willing, I'll see them again some day.
I keep listening to the jingle of the little bell and tag on his collar. Our other cats are quiet little ninjas. When I couldn't find him I'd call his name and he'd jingle. When he stopped responding to his name I knew something was wrong.
I've said that he was "my cat", because he chose me and loved me and followed me, but in truth he was more Colleen's cat. She was the only one whose lap he would sit on. He would curl up there for hours, or sit on the footrest of her recliner, or lie on her chest next to her heart.
When he started being a picky eater, she was the one who made sure he ate, and chased the other cats away from his bowl. She fed him cat treats, and when we had bacon for breakfast she would break off pieces for him.
(pictures under the cut. If you're on LJ, go over to Dreamwidth, which does a better job of scaling the pix.)
Here's the one I call "cat and mouse" (that my userpic comes from); I think it's my favorite. He's leaning over my trackball, and in the background you can see the keyboard pushed out of the way under the monitor. Unlike the other cats, he hardly ever stepped on it. It's my laptop's wallpaper now.
And this is the one I call "Crazy Cat Lady Starter Kit" -- Colleen with Curio in her lap, and Cricket and Desti on the top of the chair back. Cricket looks like she's about to come down and get some of the pettin', but I don't think she did. The fabric later wound up on my desk.
This one is "The Cat In the Bag" -- I still have it as the wallpaper on my phone. It's from a year ago, before he became so ill.
I thought about posting the last picture I have of him; I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet.
Finally, here are some links related to FIP:
When we first met, you looked like you needed a friend, So I walked up and told you "Hi there. I'm your cat." I'm not sure you understood what I was saying, but I knew You thought so too. You picked me up and held me in your arms, and spoke to me In a gentle voice that I loved as soon as I heard it, And took me home. You were always my Person, and I was your Pretty Boy. At night you would pat the top of the box in the hall And say -- "Up!". I would jump up, and you would take me in your arms And carry me up the stairs. Sometimes I would run ahead, But I would always wait for you so that we could go Into our room together. When I got sick I couldn't always come to you, But you always found me and carried me upstairs, Safe in your arms. Sometimes I would hide in the closet or the bathroom Instead of sleeping with you and Mommy, I think because I didn't want you to worry. On our last night together, you held me in your arms Where I knew I was loved. You stroked my fur, and scratched behind my ears, And cried -- I'd never seen you cry before -- and said I would be okay. I fell asleep in your arms, and when I woke up I wasn't sick any more. There were stairs there, with a carpet like a rainbow, So I jumped down and ran ahead, but when I looked back You weren't there. I'll wait for you. Some day I'll hear you call my name And come running downstairs to meet you. My little bell Will jingle for you, And you'll pick me up and cuddle me again, and we'll go Up the Rainbow Bridge together, with me safe and happy In your arms.
I still want to write him a song, but first there was something he wanted to say.