This wasn’t supposed to happen. He was still a baby.
It was too soon. Too soon after we lost Phoebe.
Jenni wanted a solid white cat for her 30th birthday four years ago. She found the perfect cat at the shelter but was told she had to wait until after Halloween because of sick people’s treatment of solid white and solid black cats around the holiday.
Now almost four years to the day, he’s gone.
Today was the usual hectic morning. Running around late for work. Trying to wake up sleepy kids. All of it stops with a yell.
A yell coming from the kitchen.
I rush down the hall and see her with him. He’s splayed out on the counter, face swollen grotesquely, breathing shallow, eyes wide.
When we first got Gandalf, I remember frowning on the idea considering we already had Phoebe and my allergies. I want to say that my mind was changed overnight. That we bonded instantly. We didn’t.
(Breathing is more labored, he meows in a deep, unfamiliar growl)
I remember holding him and wondering aloud how old he was. Jenni noted that he had to be barely out of kitty phase because he had baby teeth. Teeth that he promptly sunk into my hand before running away.
He sprayed everything. Ruined one of our couches. The adventure of me getting him to the vet for shots was chronicled here.
(His eyes lock onto mine, breathing still rapid, meows louder)
But my favorite story is when we were in bed on a sleepy Saturday morning. Gandalf on my wife’s chest, looking at me with contempt. I stare back at him and tell him mockingly, “That’s mah woman, you can’t have her to yourself.”
Without breaking his stare, he repositions himself facing away from Jenni… And promptly sprays her in the FACE. She flung him off of her but he returned periodically through the day and gave her that earnest, sweet cat face look of: “You belong to me now.”
(wrapped in a children’s blanket, rushing to the car. Trying to remember how to get to the 24 hour Vet.)
After Phoebe died, Gandalf seemed to act out. He dug in the trash and when we watched TV, right in front of us, boldly jumped up on the coffee table. Things he were forbidden from doing. Things we felt he was doing because he knew we were going to fuss on him and pay him more attention.
(The meowing stops, the rushing around ceases. Everything, cold morning air included, is still)
Gandalf and I finally came to peace about 2 years ago. He cuddled on my chest and buried his head in my arms, wanting his ears rubbed. I would roll my eyes, but after all we went through together, gladly obliged. His purr was unusually loud, but his uniqueness was celebrated.
We walked back in the house, and Jenni said, “It’s too late, he’s gone.”
I don’t have a clue to what happened. He was young, healthy. A little more withdrawn than usual, but we chalked that up to his disdain for our new kitten.
It was unexpected, and we are blindsided by his sudden death. It’s unfair to have to say goodbye again when still nursing fresh grief.
I sat on the couch cradling him, my son bringing Molly over so we can let her say goodbye. Her tears and pleas for him to come back met with mutual tears all around.
After awhile I tell Jenni to take Molly back in the bedroom, I didn’t want her traumatized by this. I asked Alex to come back with the camera, so I could get a last picture of him:
I did this because I couldn’t help but notice his position. He was positioned the way he was at our most comfortable.
When we admitted the affection we had for each other.
He was cuddled up on me, head dug in asking me to scratch his ears. And for one last time, I was happy to do so.