Jun 30, 2014

Goodbye, Friend (Remembering Satchel)

It took me awhile to write this blog because the pain has been so great, but I wanted to honor him, Satchel. To write something, anything to remember him. And I wanted to include photos, but I haven’t been able to go through them without crying -- and they still make me cry, but I’ll include them anyway. Heck, I haven’t been able to wake up, go to bed, or get through my day without crying. I miss him so much I have a constant ache in my chest and a never-ending upset stomach. But I have to write something, it’s what keeps me sane in insane times, so here goes…

The problem with being young and naive and rescuing a couple litters of kittens is that one day when you’re older these kittens will be senior cats, get sick, and pass away.

I think, in order to bear the pain that is life, we trick ourselves into thinking our loved ones are invincible, be they our parents or our pets. We convince ourselves they’ll never die, they’ll be with us until the end. But they won’t. Everything fucking dies. And no matter how many we lose, the pain never lessens.

In fact, it might get worse…

I remember the day I found Satchel. There had been an old, beat-up, pregnant alley cat that hung around our porch. We called her Stripe due to her prominent dark tiger stripes. Shortly after she gave birth, one of her older offspring started bringing us her kittens. She’d leap up, kitten’s neck held firmly in mouth, and drop them off right in front of our sliding glass door. Somehow she knew, somehow she trusted us. 

The first one she brought we named Tiki, but she didn’t last long. We brought her to the vet, got her shots, etc. but she was too far gone. We buried her in Griffith Park. This tiny tiger striped kitten. 

Shortly after that she brought us one or two more… I’m not sure how many because I never saw those ones. Jeremy did. For a long time he never even told me about them. They were already gone… It was too late. There was nothing, no power in the universe, that could help them.

Then one day in May 2002, on Mother’s Day no less, I was on the phone with my Mum when I heard a tiny meow. I looked out on the porch and there was a little black kitten so small he fit in the palm of my hand.

I exclaimed, “Oh, my god!”

And my Mum said, “What? What is it?”

“There’s a tiny black kitten on the porch.”

All black? You have to bring him in and save him!

We brought him to the vet and got his tests and shots. He was so young that he hadn’t been fully weaned. Jeremy and I took turns feeding him with those oral medicine syringes to get him to eat because he didn’t fully understand how to use a proper bottle with a nipple. I was absolutely determined to keep him alive. It became my life’s goal. I also had to teach him how to use the litter box by rubbing his belly with a warm, damp cloth after he ate and placing him in it. There were quite a few accidents before he learned and a couple chairs had to be thrown out in the process…

He was like a child, but also a best friend. He snuggled better than most cats. He seemed to prefer us to them most of the time. We often joked that he thought he was ‘a people’. He took quite a shining to Jeremy and slept with him every single night and went running to the door to greet him after he came home from a long day on set. But when he didn’t feel well, he came to me and I’d do everything I could to make him better until one day a time came when I no longer could. That was my job -- to make him better, but I couldn’t fix this. His kidneys were failing. We could keep him alive with medicine but what was his quality of life? He hated having the medicine, especially the saline IV. He took to hiding, hissing, and not eating. My precious baby boy. What was I supposed to do? We decided we’d just balance it -- if he seemed well enough, we’d skip the medicine so he could be happy and comfortable, until, after a little while, we realized he was in pain and needed it to be physically comfortable, even if not emotionally. Better he hate us for giving it to him, than hurt -- quality of life -- until one day when the medicine was no longer enough….

It’s so hard to say goodbye. I still haven’t fully accepted that he’s gone and I’ll never see him again. I mean, of course I have on an intellectual level, but deep down I just want to hold him again. I just want to hear his precious little meow. See his face, bright yellow eyes looking up at me, irises growing narrow in the sunlight pouring in through the window. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready… There’s never enough time.

When you lose someone, be they a human or a pet, as soon as you wake up and right as you go to bed are the absolute worst moments of existence.

Mornings are extra hard because he would come and wake me up everyday asking for food and if I wasn’t ready to get up, he’d burrow under the blanket next to me and spoon. He was so cuddly. I can’t even write about it without unleashing a flood of tears. I miss how he felt next to me. His long, furry, warm, little body pushed up against me purring away. Why can’t there be a time machine so I can go back and do that one more time -- there just isn’t enough time in the world. There isn’t enough time for all the love and all the loved ones. I need one more snuggle. Too soon. Gone too soon.

We love you so much Satchel. We hope we made your life better, we hope we brought you comfort and happiness, and I’m sorry for all the medicine. Goodbye, friend.

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