All Saints' Day, 2015
As some of you know, my wife brought her cat into our relationship, and our home. He was a lovely, lovely animal, insanely gentle, and almost not cat-like at all. Cats tend to be territorial, but he just wasn't. When the little kitten who was discarded near our home was outside while we waited for Monday to get him the clean bill of health we wanted before exposing him to our two cats, whereas the girl hissed and wanted no truck with this - her cat, who I'll call "Monk" (and it fits) quietly scratched at the door to try and let him in.
His ailments were misdiagnosed by the first vet we took him to - and the fact that they were proud to have been "Purina certified" should have tipped us off. He had a lump on his shoulder that they described as a cyst and wanted regular money to drain with a syringe. They also attributed the halving of his weight, down from 18 lb to about 9, to diabetes.
Another vet did better tests and found out he had kidney failure, and we could buy him additional time with regular intubation of fluids in his neck. At first he dealt with this indignity the same way he dealt with anything unpleasant we had to do with him - not with claws and hissing but a trust that what we were doing was for the best, and he seemed to perk up as the enzymes in his system were flushed out by the increased fluid. As time went on though, he went from appreciating it to not really wanting it to continue. As if he understood somehow this was keeping him alive, and he wasn't interested.
The "cyst" turned out to be an infected but benign tumor, which we found out when it burst open - it stank so badly that you could locate him by smell from several rooms away. Don't please ask me my opinions of the first vet. We took him immediately to a far better vet who gave him surgery and patched him up, with the warning that she couldn't tell us how many months that would buy us with him.
It turned out to be three months.
Just before we left for Guatemala, having brought relatives into the house to care for the cats, and just before they arrived, we noticed Monk was staggering. He had not eaten in three days. When we took him to the vet, now barely 4lb, she pointed out that his entire throat and mouth were riddled with ulcers, he was in terrific pain. The next course of action was very obvious. We got his remains back last Wednesday.
They're in the windowsill. He loved looking out windows, lying in the sun, and being close to the refrigerator, seeing as how it contained food. In a small, nondescript urn, he's very much still a quiet part of our lives.
And last night, on All Hallow's Eve - as a nod to the English pagan and Latin American beliefs that have quietly merged with Anglicanism and Catholicism respectively, I put a small amount of cat treat and catnip next to the urn. Part of me felt strangely about it, not because of some reflexive "that's Devil Worship" fundamentalist nonsense - but because I will always wonder how many of his last, painful days were entirely due to our selfishness in loving him too much to let him go. And if he has gone on somewhere better - what right have I to hold on to the idea that he's brought back from there to walk around here for a small while?
That being said, before he died, when he had his strength back for a spell, he was very very demonstrative of his love for us. He'd nestle in with us, purr, pat us gently with his paw. As if part of him knew, either from animal instinct or Buddha nature that he was soon going to die and wanted to tell us and reassure us of it.
In any case, wherever you are, Monk, we love you. Today's the day to remember our sainted dead.