Friday, May 22, 2009

Don't Wanna Sleep

I'm sitting awake right now, doing stupid things to avoid something I really don't want to do: going to bed for the first time knowing Keegan isn't going to be there.

It was hard enough without Shika and her ever-cheerful presence, but I had my Keegan right there, snuggled up against my side. I made it through those first hard nights by wrapping an arm around him and resting a cheek against his fur. He loved the attention, nestling up close and purring.

I haven't had him for three nights, but this is the first one where I can't drift off telling myself he's going to get better and I'm going to get to bring him home soon. He's gone forever, and I'm going to have to having a queen-sized bed to myself.

Remy, my other cat, has been nothing but a doll. She's always been more aloof than Keegan, which was a good thing. How could I possibly provide two cats that clingy with the amount of love and affection they'd need? She's still her usual self, coming to me for attention and meowing to let me know she wants to be petted, but then going on her way. She doesn't really settle down in my lap or curl up on the bed, though she'd done more of both than usual last night and today. I think she knows how badly I need her right now, and she's providing as much of it as her feline dignity will allow. Thank God she's a healthy cat, and thank God she isn't the type to pine after her lost friend. She and Keegan were never close, and honestly, I think she likes being the only cat in the house.

Remy is my Remy-doll, my Baby-doll, and my Darling-girl. She likes to keep her distance, but she also likes to keep tabs on me all the time. She's not always visible, but she's always close. I picked her out as a kitten because when I reached out to pet her, she immediately started to purr. I figured she'd outgrow it, but it's been three years, and she'll still purr anytime I pet her.

I don't know what I'm going to do now, without Keegan to greet me when I get home or to take possession of my lap. There's no Shika to try to steal my lap from him, either, or to try to share it. He won't be there crying at the door when I take too long to get in.

When I took him to the vet on Tuesday, I let him roam around the examining room, and he'd still walk over any time he saw my hand and throw himself into rubbing his cheek against my knuckles.

He's not going to be there to cry at me anytime I open a can, either.

For some reason, I always kind of had it in my head that Keegan would live to be about twelve years old, and that anything after that twelve would be a bonus. It was only seven, and I feel cheated out of five years with him. I had started making plans about having to make that terrible final decision for him, and I thought I'd go see him this morning, and if I hadn't gotten the miracle I kept hoping for, maybe after I visited with him after work, I'd stop trying to force him to make it through something he obviously couldn't survive. I feel cheated out of my last two visits. I feel horrible for not being there with him when it ended.

I miss him so much, and every time I start to think that I'm done crying now, I find some reason to start up again. My boss is so wonderful and understanding. I tried to go to work today, but she sent me home. Being home alone, feeling the emptiness of the house without Keegan or Shika in it, was kind of terrible, but maybe something I needed to do, too.

I went out and bought a pint of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla and Strawberries ice cream. They make versions of it on a stick, and I bought a box of them some time ago. I'd gotten into the habit of just keeping my computer in my room (wireless is a wonderful thing), and I'd get home from work, grab a bar, and go stretch out on the bed to do my usual after work internet stuff. Keegan always loved the hell out of ice cream, but he'd usually be pretty polite about waiting until I was done. Not with those bars. I had to be careful to keep him from reaching out and snagging some, and I always let him lick the stick clean, and he'd purr the whole time. I know it's silly, but I buried my boy with a whole pint of the stuff just for him. I buried Shika two weeks ago with bacon. I hope they enjoyed it.

When he'd try to steal my ice cream or sneak into my lap when it was full of other things or worm between me and the computer or me and a book, he'd always move really slow, head down, and purr really, really loudly, like maybe that would make me let him get away with it. He probably never stopped that because more often than not, I would let him.

He'd also do this thing when he wanted to be petted where he'd sort of drop his head to one side, eventually rolling onto his shoulder and flopping on that side. One time, in one of my past apartments, he was doing that on the bathroom sink while I was otherwise occupied. He dropped over to the wrong side and rolled into the sink, landing on his back with all of his feet sticking in the air. He was so fat he filled the whole thing up and almost couldn't get out on his own.

He also used to like to hop into the bathtub while I was in the bathroom for any reason so he could look for any fresh drips of water. One very cold winter morning, my mother called on her way to work to ask if I could turn the water in the tub onto a drip before I left to work so the pipes wouldn't freeze. I did so and failed to notice that the plug had fallen in the tub.

Well after I got home from work, so maybe ten or eleven hours after I'd turned the water on, I went into the bathroom and Keegan followed. The shower curtain was drawn, and he just hopped into the tub without looking and splooshed into the surprisingly deep water. Apparently ten or eleven hours of dripping equals a pretty full tub of icy water. He hit the curtain with all four paws, then fell back in, and I jumped over and pulled the curtain to the side (being certain to stand aside so that he'd miss me when he flew out of the tub. And fly out he did, liberally splashing all four walls and the ceiling of the bathroom. He then walked around the house, shaking each wet paw miserably and flicking his sodden tail, looking pathetic as only a cold, wet cat can.

He never did dare jump into the tub again.

I was a little surprised, since his first encounter with water in the tub didn't turn him off. He was still a kitten, and he'd finally gotten strong enough to jump up onto the edge of the tub in my apartment, which was actually quite a feat. It was one of those old, very deep tubs, and one of the few good features of the apartment (especially since it came without shower curtain rod or even faucet--you turned the knobs and the water just poured out of a pipe that stuck out of a hole in the wall. No shower, either). I was taking a bath, and he jumped up to check it out. I was sitting in the water with my legs drawn up, so my knees were sticking out. Keegan decided he needed in my lap, and he carefully stepped out onto my knees. Very, very slowly, I lowered my legs, so his feet were gradually engulfed in water. When he noticed, he fled as fast as he could, giving me all of the deep scratches I so richly deserved. That didn't stop me from laughing my ass off.

Keegan did always have a funny relationship with water. I mentioned before that he wasn't weaned when I found him, and after I got him onto solid food, he hadn't really conquered drinking water out of a bowl. I took him with me on the weekends to visit my mom so Eris couldn't kill him while I was gone, and he was sniffing curiously at a bowl of water, wondering what to do with it. One of our ferrets at the time, Sami, walked by and did what any ferret would do: she immediately dunked her face in it, then walked away.

I could see the light bulb go on in his head. That's what you did with the stuff! He plopped his face right into the water, then jerked back, shaking his head and snorting. But when he licked his lips, he finally discovered water, and he liked it. He started out just lowering his head until he dunked his nose, then pulling back to drink. Later, he learned to reach out and gently dip his paw in the water to figure out where it started. He still almost always dipped his nose before he could start drinking.

Shika's loss and the subsequent hole in my life both took me by surprise. I was perfectly aware of what a hole Keegan's loss would tear into my life, but I hadn't dreamed it would be so soon. Even when he seemed so bad at the vet's, I kept telling myself: it has to get worse before it can get better. Maybe he's just about to get better, and he'll get to come home tonight or tomorrow. I was trying to prepare myself for the worst, but that preparation didn't stop how hard it hit when my late night call from the vet wasn't to tell me about the miraculous improvement I'd been hoping for. It didn't make it break my heart less to go and pick him up so I could bring him home to bury, and to see him so still and cold, and feel his very soft fur without any life left.

My Remy is proving to be unbelievably sweet. My always aloof girl has been stretched out beside me, not quite touching, but occasionally reaching out with one paw to brush my leg and remind me she's there, and murring softly to get my attention so I'll scratch her ears. I think as soon as I start moving, she's going to be gone, but I appreciate the extra companionship she's offering now. I know a lot of people don't think animals are smart enough for this sort of thing, but I think she knows I'm upset and lost. Maybe all she wants is to use it for some extra affection, but I don't care. She's so precious to me.

But I started to move, and just like always, she's taken off. I've got to eventually face this first empty night. I've got a big stuffed orange cat that a friend gave me because it reminded her of Keegan. It's a poor substitute, and probably not something healthy for me to cling to. But it's a little bit of comfort, and right now, I'll take what I can get.


Anonymous said...

As someone who was lucky enough to know the cuteness of Keegan in person, I am very sorry for you loss.

My best to you during the healing process.

Tyburn Blossom said...

He was a special kitty who'll be hard to forget.