Itís technically Sunday, 2:42 in the morning, as I start this, staring at the blinking cursor. I wasnít sure when Iíd be ready to write a eulogy for my boy. Tequila has been departed from this world for about a day and a half, far sooner than I expected to be seated here with my laptop and the nightstand lamp illuminating my cluttered bedroom. Two nights ago, I was in this same bed as now, except it was littered with pee pads and two cats. Tonight, so soon, things are so different. The cotton-and-paper pads have been replaced with my original memory-foam, down-cushioned mattress pad; one cat is in the kitchen drinking from the feline fountain that was purchased for the other and his love of running water; and the second cat, well, heís in Heaven now.
Friday was the day the Bridge received him. Non-technically, yesterday. I woke up this morning with Lumen as my little-spoon, but no one at my feet. Eric, bless his heart, is still hundreds of miles away visiting relatives on a long-planned visit. It felt lonely this morning. Sweet Lou has been soaking me with affection, she is doing her best to keep me happy. Sheís doing a great job but the burden is heavy.
I forced myself to make this day after Teqís departure a Ďspoil-meí day - spa facial, massage, manicure, eat-whatever-I-want day. It was a self-imposed respite for the really hard weeks, months, itís been since he started showing signs he was unwell. (How unfair that his accurate diagnosis came on the day he died. Multiple Myeloma is a wicked villain, its symptoms resemble so many other ailments that it took nearly four months to confirm just what it was.)
I knew well before entering the nail salon today just what I wanted: a soft grey colored nail enamel with a simple white heart detailing each ring finger. A celebration of my boyís beautiful soft grey and white tabby-striped coat. Later this evening, as I prepared my bedtime routine, I admired my painted nails and then, the minute scratches I had accepted about three days prior, after a particularly rough night volunteering at the animal shelter. Some new kitties had arrived and, shockingly, they were not keen on an invading paper towel or dust brush!
I continued looking down at my hands as I entered my bathroom and turned on the light. Then I looked up and shocked myself at what I saw in the mirror, and instantly my heart sank for the trillionth time today.
Thursday night Tequila was in so much pain. The cancer was ravaging his bones, his blood, everything. I tried to pick him up off my bed despite his protests, possibly to bring him to the kitchen to eat or to the bathroom to Ďgoí, I donít remember now. I didnít listen to him. So he reached around and bit at my face, grazing my cheek and leaving about an inch-sized line of broken skin. Something heís never done before. A scratch far bigger than anything I have on my hands from other cats that arenít even my own.
I remember yelling. I remember being so upset and him being even more so. I am so sorry, T, for yelling. I didnít mean to scare you. You know that, right? We made up and you purred afterwards. You let me stroke you and hold you. I donít know if iíll ever forgive myself for yelling at you even though I promised you forever ago that I wouldnít ever do that. It was wrong. Iím so, so sorry.
I think most of me was upset not at you, T, but at the fact I knew right then that this was the end. That this would be the last night I spent with you. After six years of memories, this would be it. I really did have no choice.
That injury on my face is what shocked me in the bathroom mirror tonight. It remains, obviously, since itís only been about 48 hours. Is it odd that part of me hopes it never heals? Itíd be a permanent reminder of our last moments together - the heartache and yet, the forgiveness afterwards. I could always cover it up with makeup when I needed. I have an irrational fear that when it heals, so will my last piece of you. I know itís nonsense. Your ashes will have arrived and be back in our home before my face has healed. But yet the thought of it healing brings me to tears again.
It was so hard to let you go, T. You seemed so alive when I brought you to the vet Friday morning. I never intended to let you go there. But after you kept losing control of your bladder, after you looked completely disoriented for hours and hours, after the vetís voice echoed in my ears saying yes, it is cancer, yes, weíll have to do another cytology before we even start the chemo, yes heíll have to be sedated this time because heís so uncomfortable, yes I do believe the most humane thing to do now is let him rest .. I knew.
I wanted to wait til Eric came home so he could say goodbye in person. I wanted to bring you home and let you be where you felt most comfortable. I wanted to spend thousands more dollars to see if I could buy you more time. But resource after resource kept telling me that it would only be time, not a cure. Right now, there is no cure for what you had, and even if it went into remission, the likelihood of worse recurrence was extremely high. I couldnít do that to you, T. I just couldnít let you suffer.
I remember your passing distinctly and it shatters me. We donít have to replay it here. We all know the devastation. There were many, many detailed pieces of specific sadnesses that formed the mosaic of your passing. Those will all be kept in my heart forever.
There was so much that I loved about T. He brought me out of a terrible depression. He was the one that made me a cat-momma for the very first time. He was the one who got me into PetSmart that one Saturday to get his food and came out with a flyer to be an animal rescue volunteer. I loved the rings around his neck that resembled the chains that the human celebrity ďMr. TĒ wears. I loved the way his tiny meow didnít match his huge body, how affectionate he was when he wanted something, how he was my exterminator and bodyguard, and the true king of the house. If i allowed myself the time, I could write forever about Tequila. He was my boy. My sweet, sweet boy who wormed his way into my heart despite myself.
So many of my friends and family have offered condolences, memories, and toasts of actual tequila in my boyís honor. I have been so fortunate. T touched a lot of lives in the seemingly short time I had him. He truly has changed my life. Iíll be forever grateful and I cannot wait to see him again.
I adopted Tequila in 2008 from a family who could no longer keep him. He was large, not very affectionate, and I wasn't sure he was what I wanted - as I never had a cat before anyway. But I knew I had to save him (and I had to keep his name, it felt strange re-naming a seven-year-old creature). This poem I found, which I modified slightly, reflects our story perfectly. Please pray for my boy at the Rainbow Bridge.
I'm getting older in my years,
My coat is turning grey.
My eyes have lost their luster,
My hearing's just okay.
I spend my days dreaming
Of conquests in my past,
Lying near a sunny window
Waiting for its warm repast.
I remember our first visit,
I was coming to you free,
Hoping you would take me in
And keep me company.
I wasn't young or handsome (yes you were!)
Many years I've lived this beat.
There were stripes upon my face,
I hobbled on my feet.
I could sense your apprehension
As I left my prison cage.
Oh, I hoped you would accept me
And look beyond my age.
You took me out of pity,
I accepted without shame.
Then you grew to love me,
And I admit the same.
I have shared with you your laughter,
You have wet my fur with tears.
We've come to know each other
Throughout these many years.
Just one more hug this morning
Before you drive away,
And know I'll think about you
Throughout your busy day.
The time we've had together
Is a treasured time at that.
My heart is yours forever.
- This Old Cat
Lumen is now resting in the top corner of the bed where Tequila would sit each morning, staring me into awakeness, pawing at me with his arthritic forepaws, demanding that he be fed. I canít help but wonder if she knows. I suppose itís not worth wondering. We both know. Heís here. Heís no longer present by his body (despite his fur that still coats all surfaces of this home), but heís present in the air, in the wind, in the spirit of us all.
This is the very last picture I ever took of Tequila. Taken Thursday night / early Friday morning. Iíll treasure it always. Iíll be sure to post additional pictures later on, happier ones. Thatís really how he should be remembered.
I have no great words of comfort, I have prayers and an understanding heart... I will pray for you and your sweet Mr. T.
Know you are not alone in your time of sorrow- what a beautiful boy he was!
Massive cyber hugs as you move forward through your pain
blondie, he wants you to forgive yourself, and he's so grateful that you were strong enough to let him go. I know you'll cherish that picture forever. It says so much about the love you'll always have for each other.