A Tribute to Max, and other reflectionsI have been drinking lots of water all afternoon and evening--it's been making me go to the bathroom, but my eyes still are dry and they burn, and I have those little crusts of salt on my eyelashes from crying.
I still can't fully believe it, but my kitty friend of over 14 years has died. I can't believe I won't pick him up again or hear his throaty purr greeting or fall asleep holding him anymore. I can't believe it.
Last night Dad held and loved up on him and then put him outside. Apparently about 10 or 15 minutes later, according to the neighbor, he was hit by a car that ran a stop sign and was going too fast to stop when they saw him. Max didn't hang out in the road a lot, and I'm not sure why he suddenly felt worried enough to run back toward our yard, but I wish he hadn't tried to make it back just then--he would probably be fine and be here beside me on the bed.
I am basically thankful for the way he died. I was always afraid he would get sick, as many cats do, and need lots of care and still be miserable. I'm thrilled that he bolted out the door happy as could be after a nice long time in Daddy's lap last night. But I am so sad I didn't get to love up on him one more time myself, or hold him as he died, or tell him how much we all miss him and will miss him.
Max would be proud of the stir he created this afternoon--he brought someone in from out of town, in his honor a friend brought flowers by, and he disrupted the entire day and was the topic of loving, constant conversation.
However, in terms of effectiveness, none of these feelings make it any farther than our reminiscing conversations in the hall or my tears soaking another tissue or the ache in my heart that seems to have arms. My heart's arms keep reaching out for a different conclusion to the day, or a whiskered face at the door, or a fuzzy warm body with sharp claws at the ends. But the heart-arms come up empty and I know where Max is--he's at the bottom of a lovingly dug, perfectly sized hole out back in front of his favorite hedge. Now how can that be fair, to come up empty, when I know where he is?
I grieve over losing my fuzzy friend, and my nose is raw from the wiping. Yet, as my tears keep making a mess in front of me, I'm humbled and thankful. Because today, before I ever knew my cat had died, I talked to a man who lost his wife two years and two months ago. His eyes looked like he had been crying recently and was emotionally worn--I guessed it might have had something to do with Valentine's Day being yesterday.
I ache for my cat, but he's okay, even though he's dead. He had a good life and was loved, and he didn't hurt very long as he died. This man's wife was sick for 8 years, she died of the cancer, and losing your mate is a very different, all-encompassing thing. Continuing my conversation with this man by email turned my grief for my cat into grief for him and other people who have lost someone.
After completing that email, I got on facebook, and I saw something else that fit on this circle. I saw pictures that celebrate life. I saw a young man--I knew him first as a tiny boy--holding a tiny new one of his nieces. There was no nervousness in the way he held her. He has held many babies, I am sure. This family loves life so much that there are babies and children everywhere and others always on the way.
These different glimpses from the day remind me of the Jack Johnson song that says "One goes out, one comes in . . . You know that I would now, if only I could. . . " The song talks about how Jack gets a call from a friend who's been given two weeks to live--he would give his friend more time if he could. Then the song goes on to talk about a baby being born--"Papa cried, baby cried, said 'Your tears are like mine.' " One goes out, one comes in. I don't think my cat Max counts in this case, but Shan does and these little babies do. And I still miss Max.
It seems so trite and typical to say that this makes me look at my life differently. But how true it is. When I get home I want to love on our kitty Shadow, since when she's gone she'll really be gone. I want to go home and cherish every day with my husband, because someday he may get cancer, or I might, and I don't want to lose a minute that I have with him. I want to treasure each new little life, because it's precious. I need to treasure the lives of the people around me who aren't so new. One goes out, one comes in. This is life. I don't want to have any more regrets when I lose a friend or a family member than I had when I learned I'd lost my cat.