Personal: Now we have one cat

Tisha made his transition a few hours ago, in our living room, with Erik and me beside him. Yesterday he spent a lot of time on my lap, but by evening he was barely able to walk. I didn’t think he’d make it to morning, but he did, and spent it lying in the living room, unresponsive to everything, just breathing faintly. A little before noon I happened to look toward him and saw him start gasping and trying to get up. I went and helped support him (since he couldn’t stand on his own at this point) as he staggered around in a circle, then lay down on his left side. Erik came in too, and the three of us sat together there on the floor. Before long Tisha’s breathing slowed and he wasn’t gasping anymore. For about an hour we just petted him and watched him breathe; I have no idea whether he was aware of us, or of anything. Near the end he moved his front legs back and forth, and then his left hind foot, then the right one, until he looked like he was walking. His pupils dilated and he kept walking until his last few breaths. It was a surprisingly regular motion, purposeful. I like to think he was walking himself out.

I don’t know how Tisha felt about all this, but just for me, I’m grateful we got to watch him leave gradually. I believe his spirit moved on long before his body did, not that there’s any way of knowing such things. All the same… I miss him already. The worst part was when Erik picked him up and he was all limp. The sobs burst out of me then, big involuntary ones that went through my whole being. Just the way his head hung down — it was so clear this was just a body we were looking at now.

Our other kitty, Lyapa, slept through the whole thing. Erik and I have been very grateful for the unintentional comic relief her sheer obliviousness has provided. And it was a deep comfort, after we returned home from taking Tisha’s body to the vet, to be greeted by a very fat, robust, active, noisy cat who isn’t one bit sad at all. I make fun of her for it, but if she’d been depressed by Tisha’s passing I don’t know what we would have done.

We’ve cleared away and thrown out Tisha’s old meds, his scratcher, the Cone of Shame, his water dishes, and the tissues I strewed over the floor after I cried. We’ve thrown the blankets in the wash and rearranged the living room, and I’ve opened the doors to my studio now that there’s no cancer-cat to contaminate my fabrics. When I said I would start work in the second week of November, after tying up all my loose ends, I didn’t expect “Tisha’s life” to be one of those ends. There’s a huge part of me that is totally relieved, energized, nothing but happy because Tisha’s out of his illness and we can move on. There’s also a big part of me that won’t stop wailing out of that pit in the bottom of my chest. And another part that just wants to sleep for a week. I guess that’s how it goes.