A Home for Molly

I'm hoping somebody has a cat-shaped hole in their heart that Molly could fill.

I’m not sure where to start this story. Normally, that’s one of my writerly strong suits. So let me start by saying, I am hoping this blog post leads me to a new owner for Molly, an old white cat who lives across the street. It’s very important to me that I find a home for Molly. Here’s why.

When I moved into this house nine years ago, my neighbor across the street was a vibrant woman. She was single, I guessed she was about forty. She had a white cat, Molly, that she hung out with on her porch. She had a big truck she took to the barn every day, always coming home in her half-chaps and breeches. Perhaps three years later, her horse passed away. He was the equine love of her life, and she did not replace him. I could tell she was slowing down – slowing down in a way that didn’t seem quite right – but she still had Molly, her constant companion.

Then, a few years ago, an ambulance showed up at her house and took her to the hospital. A couple of days later, Evan and I were outside doing lawn work. It was blazingly hot, in the middle of summer. We smelled smoke, and even though it was the wrong season for it, I thought someone was burning leaves. Then I saw flames emerging from under the eaves of my neighbor’s house. The fire was so intense I couldn’t even get close to the house. Both her car and truck were there, but I thought it was likely she was still in the hospital. What I was worried most about was Molly. I called 911 and prayed Molly had the sense to flee out the back kitty door.

Luckily, Molly was indeed smart enough to save herself.

The fire was destructive. However, because firefighters got there so quickly, they were able to save the house. That said, saving the house took a very, very, very long time. My neighbor was a renter, and her landlord was in no hurry to get renovations underway. I presume my neighbor stayed with her mother during this time. I also presume Molly wasn’t welcome at her mother’s house.

I presume these things in part because every single day my neighbor came over to the burned out house, gave Molly food and and water, and then sat with her cat, keeping her company.

For hours. Every day. For months.

Somewhere in that stretch of time, I saw an animal control officer poking around my neighbor’s house with a live animal trap. I told the officer that she absolutely could not trap Molly and take her away. I told her about my neighbor’s ill health, the fact her house burned, but that every day she visited Molly, and that she needed that cat more than anybody has ever needed a cat. I also got the officer’s name and number for my neighbor.

The next day, when my neighbor arrived, I walked over to tell her about the appearance of the animal control officer. I’ll never forget the horror on her face. She said, “Oh no. That cat is my whole life.” And I said, “I know she is.”

My neighbor called animal control, got that sorted out, and eventually she was able to move back in. Molly and my neighbor were fully reunited.

But her health continued to decline. Ambulances came and went. Many months went by. The ambulances were replaced by hospice workers. Eventually, my neighbor was transferred out of her home.

Last Thursday afternoon, I suddenly realized she had passed. I don’t know how I knew, I just did. It was, in part, because nobody at all had been to the house for some time. At least two weeks. The lawn had grown long. Most importantly, I realized I hadn’t seen Molly. Not for a long time. I was filled with relief. I had anticipated, for many years, that when my neighbor passed away her family would fail to take care of Molly. I had anticipated that I would need to find her a home. This had always bothered me. That cat was my neighbor’s world. Why wouldn’t her family seek to do right by the creature she loved most and who loved her most?

That evening, I looked out across the street and saw, as I had so many times before, a white cat on my neighbor’s porch. It was Molly.

I ran over to her, bringing food and water. She’d lost weight and was hungry, but not starving. Her ears were chewed up, possibly by one of the ever present strays. In short, she’d declined, but not as much as you’d expect if she’d been completely abandoned. Still, seeing her looking rough and unloved was profoundly sad.

I was reminded of a scene in the movie 25th Hour where a man, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, adopts his friend’s dog, Doyle. (His friend is off to do several years of prison.) PSH is honored to adopt Doyle, because of his love and respect for his friend is transferred into love and respect for the dog. I know some people do not view animals the way I do, or the way my neighbor did, but even if you don’t, shouldn’t you adopt your loved ones view on the matter, just out of respect for the dead? I hope that, if I still have animals when I die, that there will be someone who wants them. Or someone who cares enough to find somebody who wants them.

I care enough to find somebody who wants Molly.

On Friday, I learned that another neighbor is putting food out for Molly on her porch. We agreed that the adjustment to being an outdoor cat has been hard on Molly. Although Molly hung out on the porch with her owner, she primarily lived inside. Molly is older, at least ten. Her vision and hearing aren’t as good as they once were. She is a sitting duck for the aggressive strays around here. The woman who is feeding her can’t have an indoor cat, but also believes that would be the best thing for Molly.

Her whole life, Molly has been an only cat. I would happily adopt her, but I don’t necessarily think that the chaotic zoo I have going on here would be an ideal situation for her. I’d really like to find the best thing for her. I am happy to drive – even a long distance – to deliver her to her new home. If that home is currently cat-less, I am happy to provide a full kit to go with her (carrier/litter box/food/etc.)

Normally, I don’t ask that people share my blog posts, but in this case, please do. I’m really hoping this story will help me find a home for Molly.

Dead Celebrities

Bacall & Bogart: Both of them so stone cold. <3

Once upon a time, in 2002, Lauren Bacall entered a Restoration Hardware in Beverly Hills. She was wearing a cape, and swept about the store in dramatic fashion, at one point pausing to point at a blue gingham table cloth to say, “That is precisely the color of Gary Cooper’s eyes.”

She then collected a wide variety of items she wanted, asked for them to be sent to her hotel, and disappeared, leaving a cloud of befuddled retail workers in her wake. They figured it out, though, even though it was a request and a behavior from a bygone era.

I was not one of those who waited on Lauren Bacall, but I treasured the story. (Lest treasured in my memory is the occasion wherein I stared at a very angry Priscilla Presley, while thinking, “YOU HAD SEX WITH ELVIS. WHAT’S WRONG YOUR MOUTH?!? YOU HAD SEX WITH ELVIS. WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR MOUTH?!?” in an endless loop. Priscilla, meanwhile, was not currently invested in either her mouth or Elvis, but rather getting throw pillows delivered to her mountain cabin, a mundane situation I struggled to focus upon, given the far more pressing mouth and Elvis issues.)

Yesterday, Robin Williams died. Like the rest of America, and especially like the rest of America who happens to be in their 30’s and also a stand-up comedian, I was deeply impacted by Robin Williams. As a little girl I was obsessed with Mork & Mindy. I remember being so excited that he was in a movie, Good Morning, Vietnam, I couldn’t wait to see it. I was eleven when that came out. Awakenings, Dead Poet’s Society, eventually Good Will Hunting, anything good with Robin Williams in it was a huge deal to me.

But when he died I felt nothing but grim recognition.

Death wears a variety of costumes and that one is an outfit I know well. Milling around an open mic hours after the news was released of his suicide, I was surprised to hear a lot of comics were surprised. How can you be a stand-up and not know?

To me, that sort of Death walks into a room and you give him a curt nod of recognition. He is a man you loathe, but you respect his power. And, if you’re me, or, I’d submit, just about any other stand-up comedian, he is someone you know well. Not that I’ve personally known so many who have taken their own life. But I’ve fought for far too many would-be suicide victims. Certainly, enough to know the score.

I think that for anybody who hasn’t personally met a celebrity, their death is a totem. For me, despite all Robin Williams meant to me, especially growing up, his death was an emblem of a bigger issue. On Facebook, I’ve read many of my comic friends recounting their experiences meeting him. I was surprised and not surprised to learn how incredibly kind and grounded, real and humble he was with every comic in every green room across this country. His generosity meant so much to every comic he touched, and I feel for those who lost something much more personal than a totem.

Lauren Bacall was the same thing to me, a totem. But her death hit me far harder than Robin Williams’. Lauren Bacall was mean and fierce and a little bit crazy. She was talented and smart and profoundly unapologetic. She was confident and sexy and a legend in her own time. A legend  before she was 21. How tough do you have to be to wear all of that your entire life and wear it well? Lauren Bacall tough. After all, she was the one who gave the Rat Pack its name, and when it formally organized she told a reporter its purpose was to “to drink a lot of bourbon and stay up late.”

Nothing beat Bacall.

When Humphrey Bogart died, he was interred with a charm bracelet he’d given Bacall before their marriage. It said, “If you want anything, just whistle.”

It took a long time, but he finally whistled for her.

The End of an Era

I've always loved the little purple pom-poms that are the flower of a chive.

Two weeks ago, I hired a guy to weed my yard. I hired him because he was an ex-con who needed work, because my garden had become a neglected mess. I carefully went through every plant with him, naming what was a plant and what was a weed. “This is salvia,” I said. “This is chive. This is quince.” A couple of days later, feeling low, sick, and tired, I took a nap. When I woke up, I realized the ex-con had started weeding while I slept. I looked out the window. He had torn up all of my plants. Plants I put into the ground in 2005. He left some iris. Two of the quince. Everything else he taken out, in a misguided attempt to do an A+ job.

It was devastating.

Grief does not come all at once. It isn’t tidy. It is a long timeline of events, some of them on delayed release. Time bombs. The destruction of my garden from 2005 was a time bomb. It forced me to remember, in vivid detail, what my life was like then. “Remember,” said the bare dirt, “all your hopes and dreams from back then? Yeah….not so much, these days, huh? Not so much.”

I bring this up now because in a weird way, the end of the garden feels like a symbol of a larger era coming to an end. I won’t name too many names here, because it’s their business to promote and make public, not mine, but many of my best friends have gone or are going. I miss them. A lot. The older I get, the more single I get, the more I value those friends you can call at a moment’s notice and know they will be there for you. I’ve missed Dan Dinger, who is in New Hampshire now, for some time. Alrinthea Carter moved to Greenville, but that’s farther away than you’d think. Lisa DeWaard is in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The good thing, the blessed thing, is that it has always been good fortune, not bad, that has moved my friends on to bigger and better things. Sometimes they don’t even move away. Sometimes they just have kids, which is a lot like moving to a whole other planet. I am glad for all of them. Tremendously glad. But then there are days where, because you’re human, you miss people, and feel a little sorry for yourself. And that’s when you’re glad some people are still trapped here indefinitely, thanks to the tenure system. (Mwa-hahahaha to you, Tamara McNealy!)

Jackie Onassis once famously made the comparison between the Kennedy era and Camelot. It is easily torn apart intellectually, but within the context of the quote it makes perfect emotional sense. (You should look it up, if’n you’re curious.) It resonates with me. Back when my garden was alive and thriving, in its prime, this house mirrored its exterior. There were marvelous parties and friends, visitors and cocktails on the porch. The foundation was not solid, but you’d never know that from the fun that was had, from the friendships that were made.

It has been strange, too, how even though a lot has changed, so much continuity has been preserved. I mean, Evan and I still had our traditional New Year’s Party in 2013, despite everything. (We have always enjoyed our traditions.) But now, with so many people moving on, it finally feels like the ground has shifted beneath my feet. I’ve become aware of the ways in which this house, this town, pin me to the past, and that this isn’t a good thing. All the same, I have nowhere else I want to go, and more importantly, nowhere else I can afford to go. So I am here. But I sense perhaps not for that much longer. Less and less ties me to this spot, and the winds of change are on the move.

This afternoon, I noticed the chives were making an effort at coming back. They’re hardy little plants, it’s not surprising it’s making a go at it. All the same, it felt like a little miracle, looking at its progress. If somebody else winds up living here I hope they take better care of the chives than I did. They’re really cool plants. Pretty little purple pom-poms that bloom on and on, and the rest you can put on a baked potato. How great is that? Pretty great.

Moral Decision Making

Kennedy High. One time, I threw a frisbee out of one of the third story windows. I also used to jump off this handrail into those bushes. It was funny, because it looked like I was going to die, and then I'd completely disappear into the hedge. Miraculously, I never got hurt doing that.

The best class I ever had was at Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, WA. It was called Moral Decision Making. Doesn’t sound too exciting, does it? Sounds opposite of exciting. It sounds excruciating. It probably would have been, had the class been in the hands of a less capable teacher. As it was, Moral Decision Making (I & II) was taught by Mr. Brian McCluskey.

He was not my favorite teacher. That was Mrs. Giles, my 7th grade science teacher. She taught me a tremendous amount, gave me much needed love and affirmation, and exuded joy. But as much as I enjoyed Mrs. Giles, no teacher made a bigger impact on me than Mr. McCluskey. In fact, I’d venture to say no one impacted me more, save my parents. It’s a big claim, I know, but here’s why I make it – Mr. McCluskey taught me how to think.

On day one, Mr. McCluskey taught us about something he called the “Pyramid of Opinions.” The idea being that there is one best opinion. For example, let’s say people are arguing about how the government should handle a problem. There will be a best opinion out of the group, never multiple best opinions. In other words, screw relativism. It may not always be easy to discern which is the best idea, but there is a best one out there. It was our job, in Moral Decision Making, to hash out who had the best opinion.

A typical day would begin with Mr. McCluskey solemnly handing out a sheet to each student. On each sheet was a detailed scenario describing a thorny ethical problem. Frequently, they were real life cases. We’d read in silence and then make notes. Over the year, we covered just about every controversial topic you can think of. Abortion, drugs, death penalty, euthanasia, you name it. After making our notes, Mr. McCluskey would make opening remarks, then he’d tell us where the Catholic Church stood on the issue and where he stood on the issue – because those were not always the same stance. His willingness to share his own unorthodox views (although to be fair, he was no radical by any stretch) set a tone of freedom of speech and the students exercised it – with vigor. After Mr. McCluskey laid out his opinion, he’d open up the topic for discussion.

To this day, that classroom remains the pinnacle of intellectual rigor and integrity in my life experience. On the one hand, it’s a sad thought – a bunch of high school sophomores expressing themselves with greater dignity and honesty than any group of people in my adult life. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if most everyone goes through life having never experienced anything like it. It was a tough, pull-no-punches sort of environment, yet unfailingly respectful. We were passionate, but not personal. Confident in our own take, yet willing to listen. If only all the world could be like Mr. McCluskey’s classroom.

On a personal level, I wasn’t a favorite student of Mr. McCluskey’s. I like to fight. Back then, I liked to fight even more, and I was born with innate certitude about my own righteousness. It wasn’t often that I crossed a line in that room, given the precision with which he governed the space, but sometimes my natural aggression got the better of me. Toward the end of the semester, we held debates in lieu final exams. We were randomly assigned a position by drawing a piece of paper out of a basket. No matter what your own beliefs, you had to argue the side you drew. So, you might be fervently anti-drugs because your dad OD’d, but if you drew full legalization, you were arguing full legalization.

I happened to draw pro-life in the abortion debate, which was more than fine by me. The person opposing me happened to be pro-choice. Our debate was a feisty one. At the end, we fielded questions from the students. One girl questioned me, and within the context of her question she shared the fact that she wished her mother had aborted her, instead of giving her up for adoption. She was, in essence, sharing a suicidal frame of mind. My response, delivered none too kindly: “Everybody has a burden to bear.”

Mr. McCluskey held me after class and said, “Don’t you think you were too hard on her?” I said, “No,” and just left.

Obviously, I am not sharing this story because it makes me look good. The point is that it is a weakness of mine. I can be cold and hard. My feeling can too easily drift toward, “Life is tough. Be tougher.” Up until Mr. McCluskey came along, I didn’t question this inclination toward hardness. It’s just the way I was and I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.

But there was another semester waiting for me in Moral Decision Making II. It was pretty much just like the first one. There was no dramatic turning point, no sudden realization, but over time who Mr. McCluskey was as a human being made an impression. From him I learned that compassion is a greater form of strength than declaring one’s righteousness. I learned that people from opposing viewpoints still had much to teach me. I learned that quiet confidence is the best position to argue from and that sometimes, we are not called to argue at all, but just to love and accept and be still. He became my role model, the one I still look to today. I frequently fall short of the standard he set, but I never stop trying to reach it.

The spirit of intellectual integrity that pervaded Kennedy Catholic High School remains the high watermark in my life experience. The teachers there did not operate from the defensive crouch that I’ve seen in many churches since. Instead, there was a bright, shining confidence about the way we celebrated our faith, and that spirit allowed us to embrace the world. I believe Kennedy in the mid-90’s would have pleased Pope Francis greatly, because it was with that sort of joy and courage that the school operated.

The summer following my semester of Moral Decision Making II, Mr. McCluskey found out he had cancer. He passed away in 1996, leaving behind a wife and four kids. He was only 38 years old. I was extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to be taught by him. It’s hard to imagine what my worldview would be like now, without his influence.

***

“Where your treasure is, your heart will be there also.” – Matthew 6:21

Yesterday, I finally got paid. In case you’ve been playing along at home, yes, it took them four months to pay me. But in any case, I now have the check in hand. The very best thing about being single with my own money is that I can do whatever it is I want to with it. So, the first check I am going to write will be to St. Anthony’s of Padua Catholic School in Greenville, SC. The teachers there don’t make much. They’re there because they love to teach. That’s how it was at Kennedy, too. Mr. McCluskey could have made more in a public school. But Catholic Moral Decision Making isn’t a class they offer and he had a calling. It makes me happy to think I can help support teachers like him. It’s the least I can do, considering all he did for me.

Little Bastard

When he was in his prime.

Part I – INTRO: This blog has been around since a certain date. I could look that up, but that would require looking it up. I think it goes back to ’09 or ’10 or some such. Point is, awhile. And in the semi-long history of this blog, I’ve established a tradition of memorializing the dead. Death, the recognition and acceptance of, is very important to me. And yet, my most significant loss has gone unrecognized here.

Partly this is due to pride. The story of Little Bastard, to my own ears, strikes a pathetic note. It seems shameful to me, even as a lover of animals, that one animal would mean so much. It is not something I find shameful in others, not in the least, but in myself it seems like evidence of my own human ineptitude.

Part II – THE CAT HIMSELF: In 1999, Evan and I took in a LA stray who came to be known as Mama Cat. She had six kittens, of whom Little Bastard was one. I will never forget the first time I saw his face. There was a pile of squirming kittens, from white to black and all along the gray scale in between, and up out of the pile of kittens emerged a face with dramatic markings. I gasped and said, “That one will find a home first!” (And in a way, he did.) Within the first twenty-four hours of his life he earned his name. Where all the other kittens looked for a nursing spot like normal animals, Little Bastard instantly developed a unique method. He’d go up to a litter mate, frantically claw their faces, and when they’d detach, he’d latch on. “That one’s a Little Bastard,” I said. It stuck.

Two weeks later, Mama Cat became ill. So ill we had to bottle feed the litter. A curious thing happened when I started bottle feeding the kittens. Little Bastard decided I belonged to him. You could say he bonded to me, decided I was his mother. But none of the other kittens bonded to me in this way. Mama Cat continued to mother them, even if she wasn’t feeding them, and Little Bastard, throughout his life, loved her like a true mama’s boy. Regardless of how this decision originated within him, Little Bastard has clearly decided that I was his, and he went on a campaign to make me see this truth.

Time passed and kittens found homes. After a lot of hustling, I worked the situation to where all the kittens would be placed. A nice couple came to get Little Bastard. I panicked and started lying my head off. I said he was a fearful kitten (this as he lay, belly to the sky, on my lap), about how he was difficult and unwilling to bond, etc. The wife seemed confused, but the husband realized what was going on. They took a different a kitten, a semi-claimed kitten, and I kept Little B. I’ve always regretted how I handled that. (As a happy postscript, however, the kitten they did take, and named Rufus, went on to have a wonderful life with them. The college student who had semi-claimed Rufus would have been unlikely to provide such a home.)

Little Bastard grew up to become a remarkable cat. He had dreams, dreams I would watch develop over time. I always knew what he was thinking, too. I could watch him size up a situation. “If I can just get to those stairs, then I can get out that window, and onto the roof.” Even though I’d be aware of his plots and tried to defend against them, he was patient and always knew when to strike. Over the years, he made of a lot of these dreams come true. The aforementioned roof dream, the dream of leaping from a balcony into a nearby tree – after an initial second-story failure – his own personal escape from Alcatraz moment in Big Bear. By the way – I never said he was a good cat, I said he was a remarkable cat. He was named Little Bastard, after all, and he earned that name over and over again. But I never begrudged him his ambitions. Indeed, I took great pride in them and viewed them as evidence of his superiority over all other cats. Life, he believed, was made for adventures.

I really can’t emphasize enough our ability to read each other’s minds. I never had to wonder what he was thinking or feeling. Once, after few symptoms, I concluded he had asthma. The vet didn’t believe me. I insisted on tests. She came back in and said, “So! It’s a good thing you brought your kitty-kitty in today! He does have asthma!” On a happier note, when we lived in Big Bear, I decided that what Little B really wanted was to go outside. I didn’t want him eaten by coyotes, so I bought him a little red harness and a leash. The very first time I put it on him, he knew what it meant, because he could read my mind just as I read his. That harness became his greatest source of joy. Years later, in South Carolina, I’d let him outside without it. Months would go by without him wearing it. But if he heard me pick it up, no matter where he was, he’d come running, meowing loudly the entire time. Little B, fittingly, was an exceedingly loud cat. We were such a perfect match.

When he was sick and thin - but still had his sparkle.

Bastard loved to run. A lot of cats do. But his favorite way to run was with me. I am sure my neighbors thought I was insane. Little B and I would go to the backyard and run around. Not in a way, I’m sure, that made sense to an observer, but it made sense to us. Basically, we’d both run to different points in the yard, then I’d call him, and he’d run to me. I would then praise him on how magnificently he’d run (Little Bastard loved praise) and the game would start all over again. Once, my sister Becky called during one of these outdoor running sessions and she asked what I was doing. I said, “Spending special time with Bastard.” And then I said, “Did I just say that out loud?” Because it was literally, not figuratively, but literally one of those moments where I had no intention of ever telling anyone that I mentally referred to backyard running with my cat as “spending special time with Bastard” but I’d gone and done it. Luckily, Becky had owned Rocky and understood.

When it came to humans other than myself, it’s safe to say Little B was unimpressed. He was a one woman cat. From some people he’d tolerate a certain amount of attention, but he made it clear this was an act of graciousness on his part. Back in 2003, while Evan and I were staying with his parents, Evan’s dad decided he was sick of Bastard’s aloof nature and petted him the way one would pet a lab puppy. Little B suffered through the mauling with dignity, shot my ex-father-in-law a devastating glare, then stalked away, his tail straight in the air and twitching. No cat has ever more powerfully said, “Go to hell,” than Little Bastard at that moment. So much so, Evan’s dad flipped him off as he walked away.

Part III – WHY HE MEANT SO MUCH: I went to a lot of different schools over the years, but I never moved. The first change was compulsory, because of a change in school district policy, but after that it became voluntary. I changed schools because I wanted to. I wanted to change schools because I was no longer wanted. I found it relatively easy to make friends, inordinately difficult to keep them. I could keep using sort of diplomatic language here, but let’s just cut to the chase – I was rejected a lot. Like, A LOT. Also, like, EMPHATICALLY. And by emphatically I mean with fists.

I took refuge with animals. I had horses, cats, and dogs. My experience with all three was marked by, for lack of a better term, the domestication process. My beloved Max, a magnificent and brilliantly intelligent cat, entered my life semi-wild. I went on a campaign to tame him and make him my own. My campaign worked. This was the paradigm of every relationship I ever had. Or at least, the emotional truth of my experience. I found a person or animal that struck me as bright and shiny, and I went on a campaign to make him or her my own. In the world of human relationships, I very often found short term success and long term failure.

That was what life looked like to me.

And that, right there, is the heart of the matter. In Little Bastard, I found another being who decided I was bright and shiny. Another being that wanted me and went on campaign to win me over. I was wanted. By a four week old, extraordinarily loud and obnoxious kitten, but that didn’t mean it didn’t count. It counted enormously. It counted overwhelmingly. Here’s the thing. It counts even more today. The ensuing years have not diminished the significance of my bond with Little B, but enlarged it.

I will not surprise anybody by saying human relationships are imperfect. But neither are human-animal relationships. Horses will refuse a jump they should have taken and you wind up with a broken back. Dogs, even very good dogs like Tom Foolery, sometimes don’t come when you call them.

I say this next bit tentatively, because I have so many wonderful friends and family who love me and who have done so  much for me, especially over the last year. I don’t call on people. There have been exceptions, but generally speaking, I only call on people when I feel I have something to offer in return. For someone who doesn’t do math, I have a complicated abacus in my head that is in perpetual motion. It is the math of social interaction and it is something I’ve learned the hard way over the course of my life.

Little Bastard came running every time I called him. Not because I had dinner or a treat or a harness waiting for him. The only thing I had on offer was myself. And that was enough.

In 2007, Little B became very sick. He probably ingested some sort of poison. Until he died in June of 2013, he remained in some state of not-so-great health. There was one exception. In the fall of 2012, I brought him with me to Vermont. For a beautiful stretch of time, Little B was the only cat. He gained weight and felt fantastic. We hung out, talked, ran around. We enjoyed our adventure together immensely. The first eight years of Little Bastard’s life were exceptional. During the next phase of his life, I failed him on multiple occasions. I haven’t really dealt with that yet. No doubt my brain is saving it for some amazing day in the future when everything’s going great and then it’ll be like, “HEY REMEMBER THAT TIME WHEN YOU FAILED YOUR CAT REPEATEDLY OVER A SEVERAL YEAR SPAN? LET’S THINK ABOUT THAT.” But I am thankful that in the midst of that time, toward the end, Little Bastard got to live life exactly the way he wanted to. He deserved that. And so much more.

In the end, I am thankful I got the time with him that I did. It was too short, especially the good years. But to quote Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”