Monday, December 16, 2013
Monday, April 17, 2006
I am really happy that I was so nice to her the day she died. Of course I had no idea that it would be the day she died, I just know that in hindsight. Other days I had not been so nice: “Jesus, Chloe! Shush! Who do you think I am opening this can for?" or “Don’t rub up against me - you’ll get hair all over my black pants!” But that morning I chatted with her as I got dressed and let her run in front of me down the stairs instead of trying to beat her so she wouldn’t trip me. In the kitchen, I cleaned out both her food and water bowls, which don’t necessarily need to be done very often since she is extremely good at licking them spotlessly clean. When I left for work that morning (and made sure she was still in the kitchen and not sneaking a nap on our new blue sofa), her last imprint of me was that I was nice to her.
Chloe died while we were having her groomed. We’d never had her groomed before, but she’d been on medication that dried out her skin and made her fur all icky and flaky. Annie moved home from California with her cats and we were preparing Chloe to meet them. They were sniffing at each other for a week behind a closed door; we read that it was the best way to introduce cats to each other. Occasionally they caught the random glimpse through a quickly opened and closed door, but after a week, it was time to arrange the meeting. So it was off to the groomers for Chloe’s first professional bath. But she didn’t come home from the groomer – not inside anyway. And Bella and Cali, who were now allowed out of their room, walked around with what looked like a curious expression on their faces as if to say, “wait a minute…we know we smelled her. Where is she?” Chloe’s loss was experienced by animals and humans alike.
Chloe, who my mom always called “Cleo”, came to live with us with her brother Joey (get it? Joey and Chloe?) soon after I became a single parent so it was one of my first Single Parent decisions of some significance. Annie had picked Chloe out of the litter weeks earlier, but when we went to pick her up, there was some fretting about whether she would be okay alone, if she’d be lonely and would it be better with 2 kittens rather than just the one, tiny one. Just about then, Christopher walked up to me with Joey in his arms and said, “could I get a kitten, too?” And we became a family of five.
We lost Joey after about 5 years, when we moved out of our apartment and into a house with a yard. He died practically the first day he was let out of the house. He ran across the road to play in the field and on the way back got hit by a car. After that, Chloe, who had been the original scaredy cat, started becoming downright friendly. One night after Joey died; she came into the den where we were watching TV. Suddenly we heard a strange noise, like the refrigerator exploding or the furnace going on the fritz. We muted the TV and listened. Chloe had come into the room and was looking at us. It dawned on us that the noise was coming from her – she was purring! We decided that she was channeling Joey and soon, she took on some of his other traits, too. Joining Annie or Christopher in their beds at night or keeping us company in the den if we were watching TV. And at our next home, coming outside on the porch and hanging around, never going far, mostly staying above or just below the porch just being with us. She had turned into this great cat. Quiet, friendly, funny and smart. She would eat her food in the morning with her paw. She chewed the ribbons off of our birthday and Christmas packages and ran to the door to greet us when we got home. Even after she got sick and had to take medicine, and it made her fat and uncoordinated she mostly just liked hanging out with us, sitting in front of the fire and sleeping.
When you lose a pet it’s hard. It’s not as huge as losing a human loved one because that can be all encompassing. This loss feels just as deep, but like it’s inside rather than outside. My husband said that maybe it means that I am more able to contain it, and I guess that sounds right. But I still miss her. Her presence was a constant and although I didn’t anthropomorphize her, I counted on her being there and she was kind of like – a friend. After I met Annie at the groomer we took Chloe to the vet – just in case. But they made the final diagnosis and gave me the option of paying $50 to bury her with other pets, $75 of having her cremated and buried with other pet ashes or $150 to have her cremated and returned to me in a little cat ashes urn. Or, I could take her home for nothing. We brought her back home, still wrapped in the groomer’s fluffy blue towel. We picked out a place in the back yard, found a sturdy wooden box and placed Chloe in the ground with some treats, her pillow and a little Christmas ribbon. I think that was best. That way, she'll be right there in the back yard, just hanging out with us.