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The Cats Guide To Grief

For Xegon

1988? - March 1, 2002

My black and white kitty Xegon (pronounced Z-gon), best friend for twelve years, said goodbye on a chilly Friday night, not long ago as I write this.

Xegon came out of mystery, an abandoned waif that befriended me at my old apartment; her going was likewise a mystery. Three weeks earlier she was as healthy and perky as ever, then gradually distracted, listless, disinterested in food. Came the morning when I could not ignore the labored breathing across the room, realized with a shock she had not eaten or drunk anything for four or five days. To the vet.

The blood work and urinalysis were ambiguous -- some slightly elevated enzymes, nothing obvious -- but she was dehydrated, badly. They gave her fluids (needle under the skin), then sent the two of us home with antibiotics, a hydration kit, and instructions about force feeding.

Brave cat. Despite it all, her heart could not handle the mysterious illness -- or perhaps the treatment was just wrong. Late that Friday night, as friends and I prepared to rush her to the emergency clinic, she began to pee and spit up fluids, and went away.

I was a mess, wept and wept; so did my friends. For me perhaps it was particularly un-guyish. But of all cats I had known, Xegon had the most unique, irreplaceable personality. Those who knew her, agreed.

Now and for the rest of my life, I will remember.

The next day we took the body to the pet cremation place. The rigor made it seem more final and real, neatly clipping off that particular thread of my life. Now I am doing better; still a bit soppy at times. Lives end, life go on. ... No, it still hurts, dammit. Black empty space carved from my heart, containing only a memory of that astonishing purr. The box of ashes came home a few days later, now resting on my table.

I set down the story for friends who knew her, but more, because the very act of telling somehow softens the edge. You may see it as the same psychological principle as praying, but without the supernatural baggage. Odd, the twisty byways and warrens of human psychology; but we humans are odd beings. Cats would not be nearly so silly.

The moral: Love your pets while you have them, because life is delicate as cirrus, fragile as a spider's web.

But of course, you know.

Ken
March 5, 2002

   


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