Sunday, August 9, 2009
on losing a pet
It's been over a month since I've seen Occie, my beloved kitty. I was house-sitting out in the Styx and decided to bring him with me, since I'd be stationed there for two weeks and I'd been away the entire week before. Amidst the confusion of so many cats and under the shade of night, he slipped out the back door and out of my life altogether. -- Dammit, I'm already tearing up. This is why I haven't wanted to write about him. -- It was not until morning that I realized he was not inside with me. I walked outside in the most blazing of Junes that my stores of memory can conjure, bag of cat food in hand, calling his name to no avail. Sinking, sinking, sinking was the over-riding feeling in the deepest part of me. How could he be gone? How.
Every day thereafter, all I could think about was finding Occie. I walked the streets of the neighborhood, eyes peeled and calling his name in despair. I consulted a pet finder. I bought raccoon traps and set them. For days, I checked them every five to six hours only to catch a variety of ants. I concocted the unholiest of unholy fish solutions and created trails all over the neighborhood leading back to the house.
I hung up fliers and encountered a couple who asked me what I was looking for. My cat, I reported heavy-heartedly. We've had a cat that's been at our house for the past two nights, crying loudly. Does he have a collar with a heart on it? I said yes, knowing that they'd mistaken his rabies tag for a heart. I knew from their description that it was Occie. But he was no longer there. I almost wish I'd never run into this couple. Because then I wouldn't think: WHAT IF?! What if I'd made the fliers ONE DAY earlier? What if they would have put food out for him? What if I would have been out in the middle of night when they saw him crossing yards, hopelessly lost and trying to find his way? But I suppose it isn't fair to blame them for my asking "what if"? I know good and well that my mind would be gnawing on "what if"s regardless.
I checked the animal shelters. I put ads in the paper. On craigslist. In the quickquarter.
None of my efforts have produced Occie.
What remains in his absence is a gaping, aching hole. I have not been able to bring myself to get rid of any of his things. I still have his litter box, bed, purr pad and various catnip-laced trifles. His hair still clings to some of my things, which I mostly seek to ignore despite the fact that I'm terrified of the approaching time when no more remain. I feel like I can hear him wailing for me on errant breezes. Sometimes in a flash out of my periphery, I see him in repose, sprawled out on the floor, contentedly purring. When I'm in the restroom, I expect him to come butting in, big ole noggin first, looking for some attention. Whenever I get a day off, and I take my time getting out of bed to start the day, I can't help but think he's not there to share it with me. He's not there to lay across anything I attempt to read or write, and I miss that adorable annoyance. I miss coming home from a long day to his unconditional love and unique personality.
He was such a singular, peerless presence in my life. I cannot imagine that a day will ever come that I will forget him, much less not be haunted in some way by his disappearance.
"Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation," said Kahlil Gibran in his profoundly moving and timeless work, The Prophet. I always recognized the beauty of truth in this quote, but I'm not sure that I've ever experienced it with such intensity as I have these past couple Occie-less weeks.
There. I did it. I have survived losing him and it looks as though I've survived writing about him too. But now that I've made the patrons of River Ranch CC's sufficiently uncomfortable, I think I should either wrap it up or choose something else to write about. After embarrassing myself enough for one day, though, I think I'll just wrap it up.
I'd love to be able to say that I feel better . . .