Bitter to Receive

On the morning of July 3, 2024, our dearly beloved Lucifer, the cuddliest demon cat in the world, lost his battle with age, arthritis and as we discovered at the end, cancer. We knew he was getting older by the day, we knew his arthritis was slowing him down, but the cancer was a surprise – and a terrible one.

He just wasn’t himself when we got back from ALA late Monday night. It seemed like he perked up seeing us home, but that perk was brief and by the next evening it was clear that he wasn’t comfortable and couldn’t really get around under his own power.

Today he’s gone. I want to believe to the Rainbow Bridge, playing – or more likely sitting on the sidelines looking dignified as he always did – riding herd on the beloveds who went before him; Freddie, Mellie, LaZorra, Sophie, Erasmus, Zade, Jennyfur and my dearest Licorice.

Lucifer was the first cat I’ve had since Licorice who chose me – and not my husband – as his person. I’ve loved every single cat in between, but Lucifer was special, a heartfelt and now heartbreaking memory of just how marvelous it is to be loved so much by a cat who could – and once upon a time did – do fine on his own but choose to give his heart to a human instead of remaining a solitary soul.

More than one vet has told me that cats with demonic or evil-seeming names are generally sweethearts, while cats who have sweetheart names tend to be, well, less than sweet. Lucifer certainly wasn’t named for his demonic nature – but rather for his ability to deceive. The friend who rescued him from his feral life believed that Lucifer was a)female and b)in need of neutering when in fact he was the opposite in both cases.

When Erasmus lost his battle with cancer twelve years ago, the post about his passing was titled Not All Tears Are Evil, a reference to the parting at the Grey Havens at the end of The Lord of the Rings.

The title of this post also refers to The Lord of the Rings, specifically to the appendices regarding the death of Aragorn, when Arwen proclaims that “if this (death) is the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive.”

When it comes to cats, the tragedy is always that our lives are so long, and theirs are so short. And it is bitter to receive. Lucifer will never sleep on my heart again. But he will sleep in it forever.

Not All Tears Are Evil

The ghost of an orange and white kitty is on my nightstand this Sunday. And for all the nights to come.

Not exactly, because that wasn’t one of Erasmus’ places to be in our bedroom. He preferred the “kitty chaperone” position. That would be the spot right smack dab in the middle of the bed.

For an essentially not very bright cat, he could be clever when it counted. From the middle, he could get scritched by both of us.

On the other hand, he couldn’t figure out that he could totally wrap me around his paw if he would just sit on my lap every once in a while. We didn’t just have to move four times, we had to open up a particular room in a particular house to make that work. And he would only get in my lap from the left and never the right. I wasn’t allowed to type with Rasi in my lap. Ask me if I cared. Ask me how many hours I could last without caring.

We love them, and they never let us go.

Rasi delivered pens. He was always so proud of himself. He acted like he was bringing us the biggest, most vicious mousie the world had ever seen. All for us. Of course, this meant that neither of us could EVER locate a pen when we really needed one. I would, we would give up every pen we might ever own for the rest of our lives to have him bring us just one more pen. Just one more.

But it’s not meant to be. Our sweet, sweet baby boy lost his battle with cancer. And we let him go while he was still having some good time, before his world became all pain.

Even though we had a vet come to the house to take care of him, Sophie is wandering around looking lost, looking for her daddy-cat in the places he used to be. She watched them carry him out the door, but she wants him back.

We do too.

For now, we both cry. We miss him. I keep expecting to see him at the foot of the bed, waiting for us to come to bed. Or on the table in the afternoon, catching the sun.

This is the sorrow of parting. At the end of the Lord of the Rings just before Bilbo and Frodo board the ship at the Grey Havens, as they are about to leave, Gandalf tells Sam, ” I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.”

They may not be an evil, but they hurt like bloody hell.

Rest in catnip, Erasmus. My sweet Rasi boy.

The Bargain We Make

We bring home a small furry bundle. It doesn’t matter whether the little bundle mews or barks. Ours generally mew.

Sometimes it’s fully grown. Still doesn’t matter.

The point is, when you do, you’re making a bargain with your future self. And you’re firmly not thinking about it.

Because that adorable fluff bundle in your lap, you’ve already fallen in love with it. Even if it’s still unhappy with you and not quite house-trained yet. Or whatever adorably disgusting habits are already ingrained into the little beast.

But the bargain that you make is that you know the time you have is too short. You hope for the maximum. You pray for more than that. For a cat, a cat who never goes outside, it’s not unreasonable to hope for 15 marvelous years. Maybe even a little longer.

But that’s not enough. Someone once said that the tragedy of loving a pet is that our lives are so long, and theirs are so damned short.

Erasmus is 12 and a half. My sweet baby boy. After innumerable tests by three different vets in two states, and several different guesses–finally a diagnosis. The one we feared. He has intermediate-cell cancer.

He confused the issue for a few months by holding his weight while being treated for IBD, but that wasn’t it. Now he’s on chemo.

At the moment, he is fine. He acts completely normal. He’s just skinny. It’s his humans who are wrecked. We know his time is running out faster than it is supposed to. He thinks life is pretty sweet, except for the weekly trips to the vet. Meanwhile, he’s getting spoiled rotten.

I know that there are friends waiting for him at the Rainbow Bridge. Zade, our playful Scheherazade, was taken from us far too soon. Jennyfur is waiting to box his ears. And Erasmus needs to take a message to my beloved Licorice for me, to tell him that I still miss him after 16 years.

But I am so not ready for him to take that message yet. Not ready at all.