We met eight years ago. I had just gotten back from spending a summer semester in Russia. My Russian host family had just gotten a puppy. I realized I too could have one. After two or three days of repatriating into the land of convenience and luxury I got a call from a friend of mine who had found a puppy on the side of the road. I knew my commitment could span decades and I did not want to rush into anything. When I saw you first you were tiny and covered with scabs. You were hiding in the shadows and hideous. It was August and you were mostly black. You wanted to come to me when I called you, but you didn’t. You wouldn’t come into the sunlight even for the attention you so desperately wanted. In that moment you had my heart. I too knew the insidious nature of the sun. I was not convinced we should share our lives yet, I knew so little of your nature. As we drive to the no-kill shelter you sat in my lap. We waited in the lobby and when it was time to give you up, I realized I couldn’t. In that moment, for whatever reason you were mine. Sure it was premature, it was spontaneous and perhaps short sighted, but unlike most of my decisions which are reached in this way, you are the one I have never regretted.
I named you Dickens because, like many of his most famous characters, you were an orphan. Someone or something had thrown you away. And much like the Crow tribal elder said, when speaking about LGBT persons, I thought "We don't waste people the way the white society does. Every person has their gift".
A few weeks later, you were perhaps 15 lb., we went to visit my sister Jordon. She lived a few hours away. You again rode in my lap the entire way. You defended my honor against the unwanted advances of her 150 lb. Weimaraner. I got your poor paws and artificially sunken belly medicated and in return you’ve been the most steadfast companion I’ve ever know. It seems a very good bargain to me.
The bargain has not been as easily bourn by you. But you have suffered with a bearing Mother Theresa would have envied. With each of my exs you have suffered their jealousy at our connection, you have had to put my mother in her place time and time again when she has wished to endear herself to you above me. You have cautiously navigated my former step-father who chose you to exact his hatred of me upon. You have willingly been my whipping boy, you have bourn it with dignity that we mere humans aspire to. You have never stopped loving me, even when I deserved it. You have even accepted that I call you "kitten". You have only ever wanted to see me happy. And you have.
You are the last part of my life that spans my connection to a former, and currently highly compartmentalized, part of my life. While I have no regrets about my decisions, with you so goes an era.
This weekend you scared me to death. When you were diagnosed with German Shepherd pannus 5 years ago I came to grips with your eventual blindness. However together we fought its onslaught with one-sighted determination. Even when I couldn’t afford groceries I made sure you had your anti-inflammatory and steroidal eye drops. You willingly let me drop horrible things into your eyes, always trusting me to have your best interests in mind. When your eyes clouded over completely and the drops became useless you didn’t whine, you adapted to blindness with grace. Recently you developed hip dysplasia.
I could see it in your face that you didn’t mind. You could do quite well on three legs, your determination quietly said. And who was I to tell you different. Yesterday you collapsed while I was giving you a bath. You tried to get up and you couldn’t. You didn’t cry out, you didn’t whine, you just laid there. I carried you, soaking wet, to my bed. You have more or less laid there since. In that moment I started to reflect on what you have meant to me. I found it similar to someone trying to explain the benefits of sight or hearing, having never lost them. Perhaps I have always taken you for granted, but I don’t want to know what it’s like without you. I have no desire to quantify your worth because I will have to do so without you. I just want you to have the flu, I don’t want you to leave me yet. I still need you so much. I know, as I have always known, that I will survive you, but can’t I have a few more years? I know this may be selfish, you may be in horrible pain. But I don’t care. I’m selfish and I want you here. I have known a great deal of love, and hardship, in this life. No time would be a good time, but not now. Not now. I need you too much. I need your unreserved love and companionship. Live for me, as you always have. (-:
Nov 3, 2010:
He died today. Poor Kitten. )-: