The Void

It’s been ten days now since I said goodbye to my little cat and buried his poor, frail body wrapped in my silk blouse.  Since then, I’ve had nightmares, hallucinations, long bouts of sheer guilt, and tears.  There’s a saying: “I cried enough tears to wash the dishes.”  I have been drunk since the day he died and I can’t eat.  Everywhere I look, I see him.  In the corner of my eyes, for just a moment, he is there.  At night, I see his black silhouette coming to rub against my legs, but I don’t feel him.  In the morning, I forget he’s gone, just for a few minutes, awakening to the motion of his paws scratching the end of the bed, as he always used to do before he hopped up to see me, his face all happiness and good cheer…then reality sets in, and I cry for him again.

My ex and I always used to say to each other it was good to see him.  I saw him almost every day for ten years.  I can’t accept the world without him.  Living with the void makes me want to dig him out of the ground, take him and drown myself in the lake, holding him in my arms.

When I’m feeling rational, I know that I can plant flowers on his grave.  He will be part of every leaf, every flower–he will be part of the earth from which we sprang.  But most of the time, I only know he’s gone, and he’s lying at the bottom of a hole that we dug–a hole that surely filled with water during the storm and tornado of May 19.  Seeing the trajectory of the storm reminded me of how angry he was about dying.  The vortex seemed to settle right over where he lay.  I could literally feel his anger as I watched the storm, and when I stood outside our house, unmindful of the danger, I whispered, “Take me, too–please.”

I can drink, I can swallow all the pills there are to knock me out, but Death just waits until I’ve sobered up, and stands at the foot of my bed to remind me, “He’s dead.  He’s gone.”  And it all comes back to me: the agony before my kitty died, the last breaths he took before he went limp–the emptiness in his once-expressive, clear eyes.

You’re alive–you’re dead.

I know, I know I did everything wrong when I tried to keep him alive the last two months.  I should have left it alone.  No pills, no vets, no treatment.  He was all right when we brought him home from the first examination. He was always so elegant, clean and dignified.  After he second diagnostic trip to the vet, he came home with his sleek, beautiful fur shaven off his tummy for an $800 ultrasound that told us what we already knew. He was happy, thinking that the ordeal was finished, but when I tried to give him the medicine he was prescribed to reduce his tumors, he resisted, and squirmed, and, finally bit me.  Being bitten didn’t bother me as much as his resentment, and, finally, his hatred of me.  The medicine made him sick and shaky. He ran away from me to my ex-husband for affection, asking him to make me stop doing all these awful things.

Still I kept trying, kept medicating him, to no avail.  He wasn’t getting better.  He couldn’t eat.  He was never the same again.  The joy left his eyes forever.   He never jumped on the furniture again, never slept anywhere but on the floor.  When I lifted him up to carry him to bed, he looked at me politely before slowly getting down and walking away.  When he couldn’t get to his litter-box in time, he just sat there, his head bowed in shame.  I petted him to comfort him, but he had never wet the floor as long as he had been with us, and it made him so unhappy I picked him up to whisper it was okay.  He tolerated my holding him for a few minutes, then he pushed against me with his paws, asking to be let down.

He deteriorated so rapidly that I don’t know if anything I did could have saved him.  God, how I tried!  The last thing I asked the vet to give me was morphine so that when he reached the moment of no return, he would at least feel some relief.  The vet said no.  My ex refused to get a syringe before his stupid lecture.  I stayed because, no matter what, my cat was dying, and I couldn’t leave him alone.

Ever since the day he died, a stench has been with me, along with the hallucinations and nightmares.  The day he died he had been eating nothing but Gerber.  The odor is part Gerber, part death.  I sprayed every room with Lysol, apologizing all the while because he always hated Lysol so much, but the stench has remained.  It went with us to the burial site, home again, and even now I can still smell it.  I may always smell it.  I can’t eat without smelling it, so I don’t eat.  All I can do is knock myself out, even knowing that in the morning, it will all be back again, smothering me, taunting me to dare live another day.