Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Signs of Life

It's hard to believe, but two weeks have passed since I lost my Mookie. Although I'm sad, I am enjoying watching a new relationship bloom between Nanuq and Tug.

The morning after Mookie died, I couldn't get Nanuq to come downstairs. He plopped half-way down the steps, and looked up, then down. Up, then down. This went on for about 15 minutes before I realized he was looking for Mookie. I went up the stairs, gave him a kiss on the head, and then patted his behind to signal he should come down.

Tug seemed more blue. He crawled on top of me and wouldn't leave. He ran across the room or in circles, looking sadly behind him. I walked up to him and said out loud, "I'm sorry, honey. Our Mookie isn't coming back."

I let both cats sleep with me. We went to bed early. I read them (OK, myself) the book Cat Heaven. We were a sorry lot.

A few days later, I saw signs of life. Tug started chasing Nanuq, and I noticed them snuggling, which I'd never seen before. Later I saw Nanuq grooming Tug's fur. They started chasing toys together, and even ganged up on me by jumping on the kitchen counter simultaneously. When I tried to give Tug a treat, Nanuq nosed his way in. A few days later, I captured this image when I woke up on the sofa at 4:00 am.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Today marks one year since I kissed goodbye to my Lancelot. And now I am grieving again.

Yesterday I lost my sweet Mookie. He was only seven months old. Readers of this blog know Mookie as the kind-heartened kitten who joined my little family in early July with his brother, Tug. His death was unexpected, an upper respiratory infection gone out of control. One day he was eating and drinking and playing with his brother; the next his nose was stuffed, his third eye protruding and he could barely move from the sofa.

I took him to the vet Monday morning, and we hospitalized him immediately. But within a few hours, Mookie had grown worse. His breathing became labored, and he stopped eating. When I saw him in the evening, he could barely respond to my touch. Still, he let out a tiny meow when I entered his room, and he rubbed his little face against my hand.

By Tuesday morning his temperature had dropped. He spent the night in isolation at VCA Cat Hospital, where the wonderful staff had wrapped him in towels and put a heating pad beneath him. I gave him hugs and kisses and told him I loved him. I was pretty sure it would be the last time I would see him alive, although I didn't want to believe it.

Mookie had beautiful green-blue eyes, soft whiskers and an extremely long tail. Everyone remarked on his lovely markings: long stripes down the back, and poufs of dark and light grey on his chest. When I looked at him, I thought about the cats of ancient Egypt: long, sleek, stately. Warmth and sweetness radiated from his eyes, and he had a soft, sweet meow. He loved to curl up near me on the sofa, and he had a habit of giving me a little lick to say hello, like a dog. Sometimes I'd sit next to him and tap my cheek, so I could get my kiss.

Mookie didn't like to be alone. He needed to be able to see me, Tug or Nanuq at all times. If we walked out of a room without him, he'd meow until I called him to join us. His favorite toy was a little green knit ball, which he carried around the house; when Tug tried to take it away, Mookie would growl at him.

I'd often come home and find Mookie in the window, curled around Nanuq's rump, or spooning on the couch with his littermate. One time I told Mookie the story of his namesake, the man who saved the Mets' 1986 season. A miracle. I wish there had been a miracle for this Mookie.

A few days ago, I was dreading this day for the memories it would bring: watching the life go out of Lancelot's eyes; hearing the bell ring on his collar wrapped around my wrist, and thinking for a second he was there; falling into my ex-boyfriend's arms with a pain I hadn't thought was possible to feel for an animal.

Now I know what's possible, and I will expect to grieve for Mookie and for Lancelot, for a long time. It has been a long year. If there is one lesson I hope I've learned, and that I hope I can remember in the coming days, is that it's possible to love through and in grief.