Saturday, February 16, 2008


I had a headache. It was cold, wet, a February day like the one my grandmother was buried on. Kit was waiting in the windows, in her normal spaced-out observation stance. The big cat loves to watch slowly. It felt like a fellow inmate waiting to announce the arrival of the priest. It was another forty minutes until the appointment. Forty minutes of existence. My headache was still there. Some sort of dull throbbing in the front of my skull. Amelia was hungry. She announced it loudly. Would you feed a condemned cat? But I fed her and she ate. I had sat with her for a while the night before. She crouched down and kept her eyes low, or rather, eye. Mishu waited on the bed, interested but amazingly restraining herself from investigating. I went back to my room and sat on the couch.
"Have you said goodbye yet?" Guilt and sadness was in my stomach. I couldn't think, let alone of anything to do, only about the time to come. Finally I went to find Amelia. She had crawled back to her spot on the cable box. My head still hurt. I sat and watched and gently scratched her head. I felt worse when the purr came out in a wheeze. Her eye was low again, her head floating from side to side. I shared ten minutes like this.
The box was full of old dvds meant for sale. No better dignity was available. The cat carrier had gone. It was in the hands of a friend for a cat Amelia was soon to meet. Her body was worn away. "Sweet thing, you've got nothing left." I left an old towel in the box. Nothing but the best for the old and sick. Gently picking her up I placed her in the box. Amelia looked around and then directly at me. That accusatory eye. The headache was there still. I carried the light box to my car and sat it in the front seat. It was raining again.
I sat down, started the engine and tried my best to ignore her looking at me. The yowling wasn't bad. I was used to it. The yowling came with the age. The quiet mews didn't. The quiet mews I wasn't used to. I drove slowly but not slow. Amelia was agitated. I drove part of the way to work, or the way I would have driven. Windshield wipers running, faster cars kicking up spray. I arrived at the appointed time. My head wouldn't stop hurting. I couldn't stop saying goodbye but the words never left my mouth.
Amelia took it well, the cold and the rain. A helpful woman opened the door for me. Her sad aw's were not helpful. I stood there, at the counter, Amelia resting beside me in the box, while papers were signed, information produced and recorded and twenty minutes of a cat's life was extended. Finally, I paid my money and signed away a cat I have known longer than any friend. Two women went to lunch. Another complained about the malfunctioning bulb. The woman helping me was too quiet to converse with. And then a woman I hadn't seen before came in and ask if this old lady of a cat was Amelia, information received. In the middle of taking the receipt and papers for records the informed woman asked, "Have you said goodbye yet?"
I did, laid my hand on the back of her head one last time and then walked away. Amelia never looked up, never knew what the signatures were for, or the box and towel, the cold and the rain. She never saw me leave. She's dead now, off to meet the friend's cat who got a more respectful trip to that building and those lands. I took my guilt and headache home, perfectly alive.

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