Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A cup of comfort and joy

For more than fifteen years I’ve judged how my day was going by how things looked when I got home each night. Most nights when I got home, Goldie would be curled into a tortoise shell donut of cat fur inside her fuzzy cat cup. She would stretch and yawn and look up at me with her laughing face, and I would say to myself, “Goldie is in her cup and all is right with the world.”

She was a stray cat that looked like all the others in the neighborhood when I first met her outside of my apartment in Echo Park. But Goldilocks, as she was to be called, was different. She had decided that I was hers. Despite the fact that I didn’t really like cats, and I was allergic to cats, she moved in with me, demanded food and started to love me. I can’t remember not being besotted with her.

Her two favorite foods were bacon, and Taco Bell. In her youth, she was a successful hunter. She liked to tee off and play with golf balls on the hardwood floor of my living room around Midnight every night. She liked to sit in the front window and watch the comings and goings at the end of the street. She didn’t mind flying across the country to Michigan to visit her relatives. She would arrive at my mom’s house, find her litter box, and settle in as if she’d lived there all her life. She actually preferred flying to driving in a car, because going to the airport meant that she wasn’t going to the vet. And she hated the vet.

She was diagnosed with carcinoma a year ago. At least, that was the vet’s best guess. She couldn’t get close enough to confirm what she thought was wrong, but all the symptoms were there. The vet sent me home with some ideas to keep Goldie comfortable, and a promise that when the time came, she would come to the house, rather than make Goldie ever visit the vet’s office again.

I thought of the last year of Goldie’s life as a bonus. I knew our time together was limited, and so I tried to enjoy it as much as possible. I counted myself lucky every time she wrestled a toy mouse on top of her tissue paper or nibbled on the plants in the garden.

At the beginning of May, just after a glorious Sunday when we both spent the day out on the patio planting, Goldie took a turn for the worse. And while she was full of courage, the disease was finally catching up with her. Last Friday, I had to make the most awful decision.

She was so sick that she hadn’t been able to sleep in her cup for a week. After she was sedated, we put her in her cup. And that is where Goldie was put to sleep. The familiar sight of her luxurious fur curled into a cat donut was a great relief to me. She looked so beautiful and peaceful. I knew I had made the right decision, but I miss her so very much. She was my constant companion, confidante, and best friend.

Goldie is in her cup, and all is right in her world. Mine will never be the same.