Yesterday was a day of contradictions. Niji and David got engaged yesterday. Wifey and I were supposed to be there to join the celebration David had planned (he must have been pretty confident that she would say yes. That is why I got Wifey drunk at a party first. Lowered her resistance a bit. Once she sobered up, I knew she would be too embarassed to break what amounted to an oral contract). However, when I got home in between work and the celebration, I went downstairs and found Leo laying on the floor by the basement door with his eyes open. But he didn't look right. I mentioned last week that he has been sick for a while. When I went to check him, I knew. He was dead. I called Wifey and told her to come home instead of heading to Annapolis for the party. I called the Vet's office (I still have the number on my hand. I had to call 411 because I didn't have the number in front of me and didn't want to go looking through the phone book. There was no paper nearby, so I wrote it on my hand). I knew he was gone, but I wanted to let them look at him anyway. So I put him in a box and took him to the vet's office. It didn't take the vet long to second my opinion. I kept his collar, it is on my rear view mirror right now.
I know it is a little bizarre to compare the engagement of two dear friends to the passing of a housepet. And I am not even thinking about the fact that he was only with us for about 8 months, when we took him in from the streets (hence the title of this post), because 8 months or 8 years, he was a part of our lives, and a part of the family. Even Wifey, who does not handle grief well (her words, not mine), said "He was just a cat" in regards to the $150+ cost of a private cremation and a take home box of ashes offered by the vet's office, which seems like a bit of a racket to me. I chose the group cremation and they can dispose of the ashes. What am I going to do with them? I hope it doesn't sound too callous, but who puts their pet's ashes on the mantle next to Grandpa? Does some person have a mausoleum with Rex next to his ex? And apparently they gauge cost (a little under $40 for Leo) based on weight. As I signed the invoice (which felt weird. It was a very antiseptic transaction, and it didn't feel right to see a paper with the word "invoice" bold faced and center justified at the top as I signed over the body of a pet for them to take care of in a manner that is, I hope, respectfully handled. Is that how it is handled at funeral homes? Does the bill say "invoice" on the top? Can't they find something a little more human to put at the top?), I noticed it said "for group cremation under 20 lbs. It was one of those surreal moments where I am standing there waiting for my credit card to approve for the (for lack of a better term) disposal of a family pet, and I am signing an invoice for "animal under 20 lbs. It was one of those morbidly funny moments to me, how businesslike it was. How unfeeling the document was. And when she stapled my copy of the receipt to my copy of the invoice, she handed them to me, and it seemed she was surprised that I told her she could just throw those away. She asked me if I was sure. I don't know how it sounded, I hope it didn't come off as dismissive or rude, but I looked at her with tears in my eyes and told her that it wasn't like I could return it, so why did I need a receipt? What would I do with the invoice? File it? Frame it? Give Wifey another reminder of him being gone? Tuxedo is still trying to figure it out. I know she saw him before I did. I closed the door to the basement before I picked him up and put him in the box I took him to the vet's in, I didn't want her down there where he was laying. And last night, as I was downstairs doing something, she came down and was exploring. I followed her as she followed what I assume was his path, right up to where I found him. She sniffed around where he was laying when I found him, then moved to the window and looked up there for him, came back, sniffed some more and looked at me. That broke me again. In fact, I am getting a little teary eyed right now remembering it. But eventually she will move on, and so will we. More than anything, I think she is going to miss having a playmate while we are out of the house.
Wifey and I discussed bringing in another cat, but we both think that if and when we are meant to have another cat, it will happen. We got him by accident. We were taking care of Tuxedo, who needed protection, and when she started getting into the house, we kind of just accepted that feeding her out in back of the house wasn't good enough for her. I am not really sure how Leo even got into the family.I remember he was what I would call a neighborhood porch cat, trying to get in whatever house he could (I think he lived with a family that moved away and left him/lost him, so he just expected to get into another house). For some reason we let him in, and he decided he liked it there. And he was just a strange cat. At times he could be really damn annoying, CONSTANTLY crying to be let out, even in the middle of snowstorms and torrential downpours. He was fond of bitching, to say the least. But there were times when he was just like some kind of zen master. He looked almost perma-stoned, his head back a little, eyes half open, just laying wherever he happened to be, the window sill or the couch or in the middle of the floor, and he would just watch all of us with a look of bemused detachment. He just didn't want to be bothered by our petty lives. Maybe in a little while, we will find another cat walking about who needs to be loved, or we could go to the pound or the shelter and rescue a cat or kitten. But right now I personally can't deal with "replacing" him.
The house will be different without him. Rest in Peace buddy.