After twelve years together, we put our cat to sleep before he withered away in pain he didn’t understand and we couldn’t heal.
Clifford annoyed the crap out of me. He had too much hair and was the neediest cat I have ever met. A rescue, he was a beautiful red tabby with the unfortunate luck of being named after a giant dog from children’s books.
Clifford was no fool. He scoffed at that irony for sure.
He was a whinner who coughed up hairballs in the most inappropriate places and climbed into our closet to deposit the rest of his damn hair on every piece of clothing we owned.
He was not my favorite pet by a mile, but oh, how he loved the man I love and was loved in return.
Clifford adored Michael in that unconditional way only animals truly manage. For his part, Michael laughed at, played with, and called Cliff his Kee-Kee.
They were friends. Stealing sunlight on the good days and resting steady during those times that required all heads down.
Michael has people in his life, human relationships. Most of them with strings. Cliff was a respite. An easy Sunday kind of companion who needed nothing but love and maybe a quick pull on his ears.
But Cliff was fourteen and no longer the cat who lunged in play to bite his best friend’s hand. So, we laid him down, pet all that hair, and Clifford fell asleep one last time while Michael’s heart broke open for a bit.
So much is tied up in our relationships with animals. They are special and simple in a way I’m not sure exists among humans. Michael has had more than his share of human complications.
As I watched him sob his goodbyes to Cliff, I wondered if part of him was crying for the collective pain of other moments when he had not the time nor the luxury to break down. Life blows he’d simply taken and gotten on with things as expected.
I didn’t ask. Michael never said, and Clifford was gone.
We are moving at the end of the month. Leaving behind the home we built, raised our children in, and after countless headaches, also grew to love.
I will miss this house. Michael will probably reflect on the bittersweet passage of time. He does that.
Before we load up the U-Haul and head to our smaller life in the City of Angeles, we will spread Clifford’s ashes under our favorite tree. He will stay behind, as he has so many times before when we ventured out.
On that day, I will try to remember the luck Pooh mentions.
For now, I’ll have another cry for the hard goodbyes ahead.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Goodnight.