My cat Sabrina died on Sunday April 15th.
This was what I wrote about how I felt at the time (with some help making my point,) It’s also a photo collage that I assembles, did some editing, played around with, dug up old photos for…you get it.
Then finally there’s a video tribute to her that I’ve been working hard on. It seemed important to get done for some reason…and it helped me not cry all the time by requiring me to focus on some internet work-like stuff.
But this is what’s been going on with me- why I’ve been such a slacker with my posts when I have so much I wanted to say. Now I just try and get through each day- one day at a time.
Anyway, I hope you like the tribute. Or at least the video. It was all made out of love.
My mom and I had been in Fresno and decided to come home Saturday night instead of Sunday night, otherwise I would’ve just found her dead. As it was I came home and she had been sick all over the living room. She came to the door to say hello to me as per usual, but when I fed her she couldn’t make it to her dish without limping. I brought the dish to her and figured it was a sore hip- arthritis, you know? She was, after all, about 15 years old.
She ate and once again I told me mom that I think someone thing’s wrong with her- that I thought she was sick and needs to go to the vet. My mom’s replay is that she’s “just old and sick and probably going to die soon.” This had basically been her reply every time I’d brought this up over the last few months regarding Sabrina’s deteriorating health. My mom wasn’t a big fan of pets- even though with my sister’s help, SHE was the one who picked out Sabrina because she had liked cats. She’d even made a few comments about her just “hurrying up and dying already” even though she knew it really upset me and pissed me off.
Somewhere along the line after my mom rescued her from the shelter, Sabrina became my cat. Everyone says they don’t know why, even though I’ve explained the reason why I think it happened that way.
Because I stayed up her first 5 or 6 nights in a row with the pathetic little kitten bed my mom made & expected her to sleep in, all alone, out in the cold living room up in my bed with me. I curled my arm and my comforter around her so that every time she woke up at 2 or 4am crying and freaked because she’s just a baby and suddenly in some unfamiliar place away from her siblings, I was right there to show her she wasn’t alone- that someone was protecting her and watching over her. I’d soothe her back to sleep no matter how long it took, even though I had to be up and go to school the next day. I explained this and still everyone complained about how I didn’t even pick her out- that I wouldn’t even go to the cat shelter to pick out the one we wanted (which they took to mean I didn’t care.) Part of that is true- I really didn’t care which cat they came home with; I knew I’d adore her and somehow I just knew that she was going to be mine.
Sabrina was an amazing cat- unlike any I’d known before. She wasn’t afraid of anything; she could sound as fierce as a tiger and she made sure no other cats dared to venture into the yard of our old house- it was her turf. I’d seen her make dogs 10 times her size turn and run.
You know those news stories about cats that save their owners by going all feral and crazily attacking a full-grown bear or some other large predator that wandered near the house and the attack is so swift and startling and frenzied that the bear ends up running away from the house-kitty? That’s the kind of cat Sabrina was; she had a wildness that never went away and I carry my scars with pride.
That doesn’t mean that she was in any way vicious or unfriendly or mean- quite the contrary. She was sweet and friendly and never once scratched or even put her ears back at my little nephew while he was running around, desperately trying to pet her. She loved being touched and cuddled and would scent-mark (rub her cheeks against) my face and neck and fall asleep right in your lap, purring up a storm.
Sabrina was so different, too. She loved rather than feared water and while I took baths she would push her way into the bathroom to walk around the edge of the tub and swipe at the water or sniff the bubbles or sometimes just sit there with me like she was reading over my shoulder. She loved to play and I bought and made toys of every type imaginable. We had these little mini-tennis balls- slightly smaller than a ping-pong ball and not terribly heavy but with a bit of heft to them. I’d roll or send them bounding out of the room and Sabrina would go tearing after them. Then a minute later she’d come trotting back with it in her tiny kitty mouth like it was no big deal, and drop it in my lap to throw again. I swear it was just like a dog playing fetch only without all the nasty slobber.
She was indoor/outdoor and needed to run and be free and patrol the surrounding area looking for fights (actually she mostly stayed in our front & back yards. Anyway…) but every night she always came inside. This is because inside is where the food dish lived, but even if it wasn’t time to come in or if she was already in the house and just hidden away in some nook somewhere, no matter where she was or what she was doing if I called her she always came to me. She only did this with me.
We had a language of purrs and chirps and meows and high-pitched tones that only she and I understood. I know it sounds stupid and you probably think I’m nuts for thinking I could speak cat. My family didn’t believe me and thought it was stupid too…until I stood in the driveway and showed them that at any time of day no matter what, if I called her she came to me every single time. That was why she never slept outside; I called her in to go to bed and she came up and got in with me. I could only demonstrate that part of it, but I knew by her meow if she was hungry or thirsty or hot or cold or bored and wanted to play, even when she wasn’t feeling well. I knew she had something wrong with her before we took her to the vet and she told us she had worms.
She knew how I felt too. When I was crying she came and wouldn’t leave me alone- kept jumping into my lap or on my stomach no matter how many times I pushed her off and told her to go away until I gave in and let her stay, and her cuddles and purrs always calmed me down and stopped my crying. When I was really depressed she’d do the same thing, and when I had surgery on my abdomen and was in a lot of pain she jumped up on the arm and walked along the back of the couch to get over to me and lay by me on my pillow. She went completely around my whole midsection; something she’d never done before, to get to my chest and neck for cuddles. It was awesome.
She was so special; my first cat. She was there for me for so much that I don’t think people understand what losing her has done to me.
For one thing I’ve never experienced grief or loss like this before. It’s like every second feels like I want to throw up all of my insides while tearing my skin off and screaming! I’ve been numb for so long- I don’t even remember the last time I really truly felt something with all of me. The closest feelings of happiness or joy I have like that are the births of my nieces and nephews, starting to seriously date someone I really like, and going to Comic-Con (before it go all lame and insane.) Those are probably some of, if not the only, happy times I’ve had, yet parts of them still don’t feel the way I remember joy is supposed to feel. It’s not supposed to have a dark haze around the edges like some fog-covered unreality that’s going to turn dark like the contrast on a screen at any moment. Is it? I remember a time when it didn’t.
Then there are these feelings: grief and loss.
I am totally not prepared for this!
Treating my depression with something as radical as ECT scared the crap out of me and I lost so, so much because of it. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve lost and what that’s done to change me and the plans I had for my whole life. How I’m still discovering side-effects or ways in which my original side-effects have distorted aspects of my personality and life and daily living. Unless you’ve been through it, no one will ever understand what that damage does to a person.
Yet I’m here. And believe it or not this is considered better. The Novocain has worn off- I’m not numb to all of my emotions and the beautiful gift we call “living life” anymore. I feel everything.
I FEEL EVERYTHING!!
It’s not like going from black and white to color- it’s like going to a world made of fluorescence and neon signs so bright it makes your eyes bleed! People’s cruelty or insults don’t hurt my feelings- they devastate me! Oh, and I discovered that I have one Hell of a temper! I want to rip everyone to shreds who pisses me off! I want to ruin the lives of the assholes that hurt my friends, and I want to yell at my family for expecting me to do everything they want when they don’t know a Goddamn thing about me!! When they’ve poisoned me and could’ve killed me more than once because of their ignorance and laziness!
I want to yell and scream at my mom for sitting in her room watching The Lakers and doing nothing while I’m curled around the body of my dead cat on the living room floor, crying like I think I’ll never stop!
I was numb when my grandparents died and I loved them very, very much. But I was in the middle of my depression and I couldn’t feel anything like my sisters could. I had to create and read the Eulogy for my Gramie and I read it without so much as a tremble in my voice. At first they said they were impressed with my composure, but when I tried to explain how I wasn’t inconsolably upset because I couldn’t be- I just couldn’t feel it.- they called me a heartless freak. Because I never cried in front of them I didn’t love her as much as they did. Do they have any idea how very much I wanted to cry and hurt along with them?! How desperately I wanted to feel sadness for the loss of someone I loved so much?! I have a disease and that is a symptom- that’s what it is and I have no more control over it than a Diabetic does over his own damn insulin production!! Aren’t you supposed to have some fucking understanding for people who are sick and suffering?? I was so hopeless and sedated and miserable and being punished for it.
No one even knows how many times that cat had saved my life. She seemed to know when things were the worst with me and she’d jump in my lap and wouldn’t leave me alone until I lost my window of opportunity or changed my mind.
“Who would take care of me once you’re dead and gone?” She’d look at me with little angel face and seemed to say “Don’t leave me here with these people; I’m your cat dammit!”
Knowing my family she’s probably end up at a shelter or something, never getting adopted, eventually put to sleep- just like me. She didn’t sign on for that. How could I look in her big green eyes and condemn her to death? There were times when I came close, but I never could. She loved me and saved me and last Sunday I couldn’t do that for her when she needed me to.
I feel asleep on the couch and after a bit noticed her nosing at the edge of it, but she couldn’t jump up. By the time I reached for her she was under the table a few feet away where she likes to sleep. So I dosed off again and didn’t think much of it.
When I woke up an hour or so later to get some water I saw her lying on her side by the sliding glass door, mouth open, panting a bit, but her chest barely moving. I dropped my water and went over to her and started petting her and talking to her- and I saw she wasn’t panting, she was gagging. I lay flat with my face near hers and she tried to meow and roll when she saw me, but only the faintest of sounds came out and she couldn’t roll. I started crying. I yelled “help!” several times to my mom but she was watching basketball in her bedroom and either “didn’t hear me (fucking unlikely) or just didn’t care or want to be bothered by/deal with it.
I lay down with my cat and told her I loved her and petted all her favorite spots: her soft chest and ears and forehead down to the bridge of her nose and cried the whole time. I kissed her and stayed right next to her and saw her beautiful green eyes disappear behind huge black pupils. She made one last gasping sound and then she stopped moving. My beautiful Sabrina just lay there staring at nothing. I tried to close her eyes but I couldn’t do it.
I stayed right there, just like that and cried like I don’t remember crying in years. I don’t know how long we stayed with me holding her to me like that but it was long enough for her tiny body and its soft grey fur to get cold. I remember my mom looked at me from down the hall very briefly. She saw us like that and said “Oh no.” Then she walked away. She walked away and left me there, going from her bedroom into mine and a minute later her usual cheers and curses that accompany a Laker game on TV resumed.
She also stepped over both of us in order to get through the glass door to go outside. Bitch.
I can’t remember crying like this- hurting like this.
Oh God- I can’t fucking take this!! I take it all back- I want to be numb again!
Please make me be numb again- I can’t handle this neon-green grief that burns and burns and fills me up with bile until I want to cut my insides out and pull them onto the floor so I can stomp them until there’s no feeling left inside me!
My head aches constantly from all the crying and congestion and my eyes feel like they’re alternately going to burst out of my sockets with the pressure, or wither up and dry out like crusty, puss-covered raisins. It’s not right for one person to cry so much and to make these sounds! Keening and gasping, this choking broken sobbing sound can’t be coming from inside of me, or any human being for that matter! Why won’t it just stop!?
I can hear my baby kitty’s least breath playing in my head over and over and over like some horrid broken record. It was a death-rattle; an actual, real-life death-rattle. I’d heard about them and read about them but never actually heard one, you know? It’s that last shuddering breath dying forces out of the lungs of someone you love while you watch the light just go out in her eyes. I’d read and heard about that too; seeing the light leave a person’s eyes as they die. Well now I know what it looks like; that exact moment when she goes from seeing you and looking up into your face right there- right fucking there in front of her- to suddenly seeing nothing. It’s just a silent, blank stare that will never see anything at all ever again.
She died right by the doorway- I have to see it every day. I can’t go to sleep at night without seeing it. I’m going to sleep alone forever and the night before she died I was too fucking lazy to pick her up and put her in my lap when I noticed she couldn’t jump up in it.
The last night I would have had with her and I was too tired and rejected her.
I’ll never get over that.
My lungs are on fire and I’m coughing, curled up in bed taking basically a Soma holiday and trying to forget the world. It’s not too hard- my mom isn’t really speaking to me. She didn’t even say goodnight the other night. My sisters each sent a text saying “sorry about your dead cat” the day it happened. Then a day after that I get a picture message from one of them of this Hello Kitty cake she baked with her new pan she just bought online and my other sister and all my cousin’s ooo-ing and aahh-ing over how cute it is. Hoo-fucking-ray for you Mel! A Hello Kitty cake is EXACTLY what I want to see right now! Maybe you could make it grey instead of white, put Sabrina’s name on it, and then all the kids can make like Chris Brown and smash it!
Be sure to take a picture of that and send it to me.
I literally have no one so I turned off my phone. Why bother when no one has anything decent to say? My closest friends are atheists and while I know they care about me what are they going to say that would make me feel better in even the slightest way? “Sorry your cat died and your whole making-a-headstone-for-her and having that little funeral service thing you’re planning is foolish because there’s no God and no afterlife and she isn’t chasing butterflies in some iconic cat heaven; she’s just ceased to exist”? They’d never say that but I know what they’re all thinking & what they believe and there’s no comfort to be found there. Sympathy, sensitivity and love- but no real solidarity or understanding. Which I don’t hold against them and I’m still unendingly grateful for each one of them that I have in my life. They are my real family.
I don’t know how to design this stupid headstone! Doesn’t a person ever freaking run out of tears? Christ…
You see, this is what happens whenever things start to go ok for me for a while; when the other shoe finally drops it lands on & kills my fucking cat!
Sabrina- you were a perfect example of the best kind of cat anyone could ever hope to have for a pet. I’ll miss you every day. This is for you: