Mourning and the Rest of the Day

 

Camoes and me October 2013

Those evenings when I used to sit and stare out the window of our solitary high-rise home at the myriad Mounts Hozomeen across the Chicago River and cry at the folly of loving and losing you were always there in my arms, nuzzling my ear as if to ask what is your problem, I’m here I’m here…traipsing through the urban playland below us, walking walking walking off the hurt after Devyn, after Chris, after a return to my hometown that was never to be, always walking back to you and we always you and me against the world, like it used to feel with my mom except you came into my life long after…

I never wanted one like you, forced into it before, Pumpkin pissing on my futon while I was in Paris, here, Gerry, take her back…even when Isabel got her orange tabby and I decided I had to try again, I wanted Morris from TV, not you not you…a tiny white paw from a black-speckled kitten reaching out through the cage bars proved me wrong, told me what I really wanted, or needed, you chose me…always at home no fearful feline hiding under the couch you were bouncing happily from wall to wall as soon as out of the cardboard box that carried you home…

Lost you in a drawer and went door to door when you were four months, how did you get in there? Wanted to die until I heard the meow amid the socks…a broken pelvis two months later, stop hiding in sheets, I yank sheets, never yanked another sheet again…made the promise you were home forever no declaw no kill no put to sleep ever, free reign, no permission needed, my top priority, my baby…not my baby, your name was no accident, no cat deserves fluffy or fifi, a respectable name from the annals of Portuguese history, my Lusiadas gato…you were respectable,not mine, not owned, my companion, 14 years my companion and who, even me, would know until the end my greatest relationship in life was with one who had no choice except for choosing me…

Ryan feared loving another animal after losing Jasper, never wanted a cat, what the hell do you do with a cat? Tell people about a cat as needy as a puppy and clever as a mischievous child, loving as both put together, no one listens…everyone thinks their animal companion–not pet, what a fucking awful loser word that is–is the best in the world…but Ryan learned you really were, yearned for your attention, still can’t believe you were both as in love with each other as we were but I saw it all along, still see it, no one does a shot for the memory of  a pet standing in the middle of the living room where you died, eyes bloodshot with tears, hands trembling…I eventually was jealous of you both, you were my best friend, but he was yours…

Never realized when we moved north that Hozomeen would be out the window…its shadow came one night we didn’t know why…God metes justice karma is karma, but if I ever meet the vet who misdiagnosed you alone hell to pay…six months staggering wasn’t a brain tumor–a brain trumor! a stroke! smartest cat in the world downed by his own mind!–we trusted, we trusted, can you ever forgive us for trusting…a real diagnosis six months too late, on kidney meds, on sub-Q fluids cause Ryan was a phlebotomist once and it’s second nature even though it scared him, he didn’t want to hurt you he loved you so much it scared him…

And Hozomeen kept getting closer and closer, your little limbs failing, not even strong enough to take the food from the plastic syringes and we tried to believe otherwise and we did we did, but it was false belief and you knew better, one so brave and smart, you knew…and then it was hospice and cleaning your accidents and I never thought in my entire life my greatest act of love would be kneeling on the rug over and over and over again, wrist-deep in cat pee and cleaning it up and cleaning you up and telling you everything would be all right…

You reaching up to me with a trembling paw, one of the last parts of you not going stiff, using all your might to lift your head and look into my eyes, and I took your paw and we stared into each other for five minutes while Ryan sobbed in the armchair behind me…a paw demanding my hand you came into my life the same way you left it…and I found you the next morning still lying there, no longer there, no longer here…

I’ve known human beings who didn’t merit shiva, and fuck anyone who tells us the shiva we sat for you was any less than holy, my friend, my best friend, my baby…knew me better than anyone ever has and vice versa…and the empty house, and the TV still on at night when it doesn’t have to be…the litter box we filled in your memory for one more week so your spirit could enjoy what at the very end you couldn’t control anymore…and the tears of grief cried while holding myself up by the wall for support like I haven’t cried since mom died, primal, unstoppable…

And I’m not 30 anymore, and my youth is over, and no one remembers who I used to be, only you and that memory’s gone without you, and my emotional safety blanket is gone without you, and the part of me that loved you for so many many years is dead with you as it must be because the love has nowhere to go anymore…

Then in my midnight sleep in place of McAllister and Thunder creeks suddenly there you ghostly were one night and muted the pain so I know you’re okay and we will get there to okay too but we’re not there yet it’s all still desolation my angel…you deserved to see the birds in Los Angeles…but you didn’t make it to the road…I hope you’re with Ryza now, see her in my mind’s eye spurning your inept attempts at intimacy in favor of her feline whisky and smokes…you loved her like we loved you, like I love you…you spent months looking around corners after she died hoping to see here coming around, how many months of that do I have in me now? Does Ryan?

And life goes on and we go on, learn to live with the empty house, you’d think I was nuts that I’ve cried because I can’t change your litterbox for you anymore…doddering fool I am and getting older too and without you feeling it…I love you, I love you, I love you, can you know that anymore? I want to know you can know that I want to know you love and miss me as much as I love and miss you…

Had you from two months old and you treated me like your mother and in the end all I could do was keep my promise that you would die in your sleep at home. Motherfuck. Motherfuck. Motherfuck.

My baby’s on Hozomeen forever, and I can never go home again.

 

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