Homage to Sequel

First Day Outside for Sequel
June 21st

He was a little orange cat with a white nose when I saw him at Pet Rescue in Burbank. Willie had disappeared, my most favorite orange Maine Coon cat of all time and I had gotten Callie thinking if he comes back, I’ll have a female and they will get along. But Willie never came back, and after a year of waiting, I found myself jonesing for an orange cat, for they are the best you know. That was 1997 and the day after I brought him home, he and Callie were licking each other’s heads and I knew they would be alright.

I wasn’t home much then and I thought maybe a companion would be good for Callie, as she was home alone so often. I used to call her the angel cat, she was white and mindful, and I would call him the devil cat, for he was orange and troublesome. He was small for a Maine Coon, just 9 pounds, but could jump higher and run faster than any other cat I had. He would knock over lamps and had a penchant for fresh flowers and whenever I had a new bouquet, he would knock over the vase to get to the petals to play with. After 5 broken vases and many water damaged items, I learned to find a place to put them where he either couldn’t reach them, or I could weigh them down enough so that at least he couldn’t spill the water. It became habit to lock up the flowers in the bathroom at night so his plaything wasn’t available. Although I wish I had done that the night I left a vase on my 32” Panasonic. That became toast when Sequel knocked the vase off the top and water ran all throughout the innards. That is part of his legacy and now when I think about it, it actually makes me smile.

I was so excited when I moved and he had a place to play outside that was safe and cat friendly. He absolutely loved being out there! He would stand by the door waiting patiently for me to open the door of freedom. Alas, this only lasted 3 months before his first bout with illness. After that I could rarely let him out for fear that he would become worse. When the diagnosis was inevitable, I decided there was no reason to keep him inside. If he only had a short time left, then why couldn’t he enjoy it the way he wanted to. So I began to let him out again, the last month, and he almost always still came when I called him. The last week I would have to go in Mrs. Kravitz’s back yard to pick him up, where he sat in his spot by the rose bush, for he really wanted to stay out there forever. He used to always come when I called him. I taught him to fetch a ball and stand and turn on command. He was my dog-cat I called him, for in so many ways he was like a dog as a pet. He would sit in my lap – only when I had the afghan over me however – and would follow me from room to room.

It was so difficult to decide what to do when the inevitable came. I had a trip planned and had thought the end was near enough that I made an appointment with his vet to have him put down. But two days before I was scheduled to leave he was still jumping on the counter and the top of the frig and still wanted to go outside and play so I felt it was too soon. I guess I wasn’t meant to be with him however, for he died when I was in LA five days later, on what used to be my mom’s birthday, and I received the news at the last place he lived before we moved north while I was visiting the grey that used to be my cat Penny. In some ways, that must have been his goodbye to me. I’m not sure what the meaning is, but it seems he knew somehow that I would search for synchronicity and look for signs. I think he knew it would be easier for me if he chose the time to go then if I had to choose it for him, and for that I am grateful. Although I don’t know that there is an easy way to lose a pet friend.

I feel like he was always there. He was there through 2 major breakups of ex-boyfriends to hug and cry with; he weathered the move from Burbank to my condo when I first bought it and then the giant move from the condo to Mike’s to my apartment in the Bay area here. He was there when both my parents died, during each transition from job to job and career to career. He saw so many Christmases – loved to sit under the tree – attended all the parties I threw in the great condo party place where he spent most of his life. I could hug him and he put up with it. I could dance with him and he put up with it. He would run up and down the stairs at lightning speed, jump to the ledge of the window spanning the loft 12 feet high in the air, never falling (although once he clung to the window sill by his two front paws as Rani and I talked and we rescued him – oh if I just would’ve had my camera!). He was constantly curious, which could be an irritant sometimes, but generally was a delight for me to see.

I buried him in his favorite spot in Mrs. Kravitz’s backyard and I know that’s a special place for him to live. Lee was there and he and I both said some special words and that was the last I saw of him. I buried him with his favorite toy and food dish and even still I’m seeing him in the corner of my eye. I’ll think he’s coming around the corner or jumping on the window sill. I hope eventually I stop seeing him so this lump in my throat will go away.

I know that there is wisdom in this pain and hopefully it will help me to help others when I finally graduate to minister. He wasn’t a child, he wasn’t a spouse, so I know the grief isn’t the same, but I hope in some way I can find solace to give others when they are going through grief. In some ways it’s more painful than when my parents died. In some ways it’s not. I spent nearly every day of my life for the last 14 years with this little creature and he made much more of an impact on me than I suspected. I knew all along how much I loved him; it has just taken its effect on me now that he is gone.

It’s taken me nearly a week to write this homage to him, it was sometimes too sad to write, but I didn’t want to leave it incomplete. I needed to put this in writing, for my sake, not for his. I want others to know how special he was and how I loved him. I don’t know that he liked me typing all that much, since he would walk on my keyboard or sit on my lap in a way to make me stop. He probably wanted my attention and I hope I gave him enough. I feel like I did. There are the inevitable feelings of inadequacy – did I do enough? Could I have done something else to help him? Did he have a happy life? 14 years isn’t quite enough for an indoor cat’s life and I always thought I’d have 4 or 5 more. I got what I got however and I’m forever grateful for having shared these years with him. He was a wonderful confidant and companion. I miss you Sequel.

From my little piece of Mayberry,
Jo

Musings in an Airport

My dad had cancer 3 times, although on his death certificate the cause of death reads pneumonia. My mom had breast cancer, yet died of heart disease. My two aunts died of breast cancer and a dear friend Roger Borden, died of cancer too. And now my second favorite kitty in the world has it and I have to watch the deterioration of a living thing yet one more time. It was hard to leave on this trip knowing that he is in decline. I have left him in the very good care of my dear neighbor Mrs. Kravitz and the incredibly talented, pill-giving vet tech Meghan. I know he and Callie are in good hands. They will just be lonely for a week as I won’t be there. And I have to have faith and trust that they will be alive when I get back. If not, there’s nothing I can do. It’s this part of letting go that is so difficult for me sometimes.

But I’ve discovered that when you give to others, others give to you. When I sent out a plea to my Brain Exchange women, I received the most compassionate and caring responses that I never expected. One member is even a cat empath and on Tuesday when I actually had an appointment to put Sequel to sleep she said, no he’s not ready yet. And it’s Thursday and he’s still with us. He’s a feisty one she said, and maybe even in denial. How like humans are animals…. or vice versa.

So here I sit in the Phoenix airport awaiting my connection. I could have flown faster to New York. But it was a cheaper fare to connect from Oakland to Phoenix to LA. Such is life. I had to go out of state to go to Southern California… tee hee. I have had my traditional Café Mocha from Starbucks…. This time it WASN”T decaf… 🙂 and a delightful cranberry muffin that did the trick early in the morning. I haven’t flown in a while, but it’s still the same. In fact Oakland went so quick through security, I had over an hour and a half to wait to board. June 9th must be a good morning to fly out.

I’m looking forward to my visit. I haven’t seen my cousins in 3 years or more and it’s going to be so much fun to catch up with them. We’re coming from 4 states and 6 different cities so it’s a mini-reunion in some respects. Zac’s graduation is bringing the older generation together and that’s nice. We shouldn’t wait for a momentous occasion to reunite. We can create our own momentous occasion to get together… hey I should suggest that.

So goodbye Berkeley and Phoenix, I am now on the last leg of my journey. More to come when I get my laptop charged up again!

From the traveling Mayberry-ite……
Jo