from last summer, with the old cameraI’ve been thinking off and on about what I wanted to say since Friday, when we trudged into our catless house and Myron brought the carrier down into the basement. I feel like I need to stay brief so that I don’t ramble and get too emotional, and then I think—you are supposed to be emotional about this.

When I graduated from college and was truly on my own, one of my few criteria for housing was a pet-friendly rental. Luckily I found a teeny house for a teeny price and within two weeks I had a cat of my very own. And cat allergies too. Things happened and I wound up with two more, and to my mind, I had to stop before I entered crazy cat lady status. The first one was older when I got him; kidney failure took him in 2003. Then the second had diabetes and he died in 2007. Both times, the cats hid their final declines until the very end, the way cats do. Both times, administering the pink shot was something to be decided that very day. This time, every day was a new evaluation, watch and wait and listen and wonder how to choose a day. It wasn’t like he had to make his peace with anyone or that he would see the snow melt and watch for enemy chipmunks through the windows. The time for all of that was done. The longer I waited, the worse it was going to get.

The way the world is set up, we have dominion over the beasts, but anyone who has a much loved pet knows that they have dominion over us instead. I had to take that power back in choosing a day, in signing the paper, in holding him and stroking him when the end came, in apologizing over and over for everything from the cancer to the syringe feeding to the last car trip in the carrier. Myron held him from the other side and was the last thing the baby saw. Coming home after that appointment was everything I feared it would be. My eyes looked for him in every shadow, expecting him to sit on the stair and watch me make dinner or leap up to my bed to demand attention. Oh, I have attention in spades right now, with no good target. Today, with Myron back at work after the weekend, my body knows that something is missing in ways my brain can’t soothe. It has been more than thirteen years since I’ve lived a petless life, and adjusting to one again is going to take a while. I prefer life with a good beast in the house that has dominion over me.