Today marks a week since I’ve seen my cat . . . and five years since my father finished dying. There are a lot of unknowns associated with loss and death, and they really speak to the human condition.
Myrlyn was meant to be wild and free, that much I know. His mishaps and maladies have come mostly from the human intrusions in his life.
- He nearly fell out of a second-story window right after I got him. I was petting him and he was stretching into it, so when the screen gave way I caught him.
- He did fall or jump off of a second story balcony a couple of years later. He was terribly lonely because I had taken him from a home of constant companionship to an apartment where he was stuck for hours on end while I worked and socialized. He was missing for three days that time before a friend of mine helped me find him.
- The last time he was missing was particularly bad, because he’d never been outside in the time I’d known him, and he had a radar-dish collar on which made it probably impossible for him to hunt or fight. The collar protected a massive wound he’d given himself by excessive grooming between his shoulder blades.
- That wound was caused by vaccinosis, a condition not accepted by the medical community. I didn’t understand that the irritation and increased aggression was in part due to me getting him rabies vaccines, year in and year out, despite the fact that it’s been established that one is enough for a lifetime. His loneliness may have pushed him over the edge.
Once we finally started letting him out when we owned a home, he did get into some fights as he established territory, but they were all of his choosing and he was happier for it. He established himself as an accomplished hunter and railed at our desire to keep him in overnight. He sometimes would not come home for dinner if he’d caught his own, but he’d always be back by morning.
Until last week, of course. Was it the storm? Did he get his collar off again, and get caught as a stray? Was he trapped seeking shelter? Hit by a car? Forcefully adopted? I just don’t know, and I really don’t care, as long as he comes back.
Posters and knocking on doors hasn’t worked. Offerings to Poseidon, Artemis, Hermes, and Hestia Caffeina have yielded only troubling results. Every offering to Artemis in particular results in me seeing deer, most strangely a doe and two fawns in midday grazing and playing near a backhoe. Is that a hint that I should look to new life? I’ve certainly seen many kittens as I’ve searched what I know of his territory. The fliers I hung over the mailbox and altar keep falling down . . . is it that the tape won’t stick, or is that to encourage me to look downward, to where his spirit now rests?
I’ve always believed Myrlyn to be the sort of cat who would simply never come home one day, but I can’t say I am ready. He’s not even ten years old, dammit.
That this is happening during the anniversary of my father’s death-cycle is also on my mind. I gave him offerings on the anniversary of his birth, which is also the anniversary of the day he fell and sustained a subdural hematoma – bleeding in the brain. Today marks the day that we took him off life support. I was his health-care proxy and held the power of attorney, and I believe I failed him. I knew that he didn’t want to be on machines, and I knew within a few days that he wasn’t going to get better. I had the legal power to end it, but I didn’t press the issue because our family just wasn’t ready to shift into mourning.
At the very least, my mother and sister and I were very clear about his wishes, but I alone was able to see the truth in the moment. That’s why he trusted me to do the right thing, and I feel that I caved to pressure and didn’t follow through soon enough. When the brain surgeon described how patients who recover act, I understood that my initial instinct was correct, and yet here we were ten days later and I hadn’t had the guts to give my father the peace he had asked me for.
What lies in death is unknown, so we react to what we know, the living people, and thoughts and hopes of the breathing ones. I am filled with doubt about how good a son I was, and doubt about how good a cat companion I am. There’s just so much that can only be taken on faith.
Just as I did with Dad, I’m not giving up hope for Myrlyn even though the gods and logic both tell me that our chances of being reunited are slim. I guess that dichotomy is just another puzzling part of the human condition.