It will be four years ago this June that Mr. Right Click and I got married. We were living in a loft apartment in Santa Monica, and we had three cats and a dog.
We had a wedding website, and this was before everybody had wedding websites. But I didn’t get a free website, or just set up a wedding blog on Blogger. I hand-coded the wedding website site myself in DreamWeaver, and set it up on my own URL. That URL was threecatsandadog.net.
Threecatsandadog.com was already taken by some kind of Bluegrass band, and it annoyed me to have the “.net” suffix on the site — because I like to have things just so — but I thought the three cats and a dog part was the most important. Because I thought it represented us as a couple, and hinted at some of what made us so well-matched for each other.
Both me and Mr. Right-Click have always had friends in animals. Before we met, the unconditional love we got from animals was what made our respective unhappy childhoods more bearable. When we decided to get married, it was to be a union of all of us, Mr. Right-Click’s two cats, Magic and Coast, my cat, Ryan, and my dog, Sidney. When Mr. Right-Click proposed, it was not just to me, but to me and Sidney.
After we got married, time started moving really quickly. I got pregnant, we bought a house, and Mini was born. One day we found Magic lying on the ground, unable to use his back legs. Mr. Right-Click had to rush him to the emergency vet clinic, but there was nothing they could do. He had suffered a stroke, and was in a lot of pain. We had to let him go that night. After that, we were two cats, a dog, and a baby.
Mini started crawling. Somewhere along the way, Sidney had developed food aggression, and one day she nipped Mini near his eye because she felt — strongly — that he was crawling too close to her food. I love that damn dog, but I’m of the school of thought that you don’t give a dog a second chance to bite a baby. So we tearfully packed up Sidney’s dog bowl and her bed and took her to my Mom’s house. We still get to see her, but she’s not with us all of the time now. Every time we’ve had the chance to visit her, she feels like a little bit less of my dog, and a little bit more of somebody else’s. It hurts, but when I try to juggle playing with her and playing with Mini, and I see both of them getting annoyed and jealous, then I think that maybe it’s better she cannot be one of us anymore, and that she’s happier now where she is, because she is back at the top of the pack. And that makes me happy.
Still, after that, we were down to two cats and a baby.
But Mini was becoming a toddler, and the two cats, Coast and Ryan, had fallen in love. They became the best of friends in their golden years, and would spend all day outside sunbathing on the patio. I finished my dissertation and started this blog. Mini started school (?!), and one day we looked at Ryan and realized she had gone from grossly overweight to very thin, and started her on a regimen subcutaneous fluids. We called the regimen “waterboarding,” and she responded to it for a while. We got about six more months before we had to say goodbye. I held her while she was dying, and I felt like there was a hole in my heart. Mr. Right-Click told me that every day it would hurt a little bit less than the day before. We were down to one cat and a baby.
Coast was the last man standing. He was the unlikeliest of survivors, but then he had always been a fighter, even as the runt of his litter, even when he somehow miraculously recovered from a condition that should have killed him ten years ago, even during his career as the smallest of all of our animals, he was always, hands-down, the bravest of all of them. I guess he had to be. He was a courageous, gentle soul, but after he lost Ryan something broke inside of him. In those first few weeks, Coast would cry and cry for her, begging us to please just bring her back. We worried that he would die of a broken heart. But we weren’t sure that getting another cat as a companion for him was the right thing to do, given his age, which at 15 was almost like a 95 year old human.
But his cries, and mine, were unbearable, so we got another cat, Edie, to try to fill the hole that Ryan left. But anyone who has ever loved a pet knows that this is not really how it works: the hole never really gets filled, it just kind of gets grown around, or scabbed over, while the new pet burrows a nesting place of its own. And for myself, I threw myself in again, just as hard, because the love is just as strong as it is totally different. Both Coast and I stopped crying. Every day it hurt a little bit less than the day before. We were two cats and a toddler.
Coast started to decline, and he couldn’t tolerate Edie’s incessant harassment. We separated them, we distracted Edie with cat toys, we took Coast in to the vet hospital because he was down to skin and bones. We feared for the worst, but at first he was fighting. They thought that he could either have a liver condition that could respond to treatment, or that he had lymphoma. And if he had lymphoma, he was far too old and fragile to treat, but we wanted to see if we could get his liver to react. We couldn’t. I took him into the hospital again on Monday, and they said that he was close to dying from starvation, because his liver was malfunctioning so badly that any food he took in was, in effect, making him more sick, even as it nourished him.
On Wednesday night, I told Mr. Right-Click we had to put him down. We worried it wasn’t the right decision: what if he started to recover? He was still sitting out in the sun today, wasn’t he? Maybe the medicine was going to work, after all?
But he was skin and bones. And we had to force feed him food with a syringe to keep him from starving, which is no way to live. He would fight it, like he knew how to do so well. And this morning he clawed Mr. Right-Click, on purpose, for the first time in his life, because he was sick of being force-fed. And then Mr. Right-Click knew it was time, and we took him in. Mr. Right-Click held him while he was dying, and he felt like there was a hole in his heart. I told him that every day it would hurt a little bit less than the day before. Because it’s true. Even though we are going to miss you so very very much, C-Man, it’s true, because we know you are not in pain anymore and you gave us so many good years, out of the nobility of your spirit and the gentleness of your soul. We were so proud to have known you, and I will always remember the depth of your green eyes, and the beauty of your heart.
This post is to inform you that the Right-Clicks are now one kitten, a little boy, and two adults a little worse for wear, but still fighting. I should check and see if that URL is available.