Tuesday, October 18, 2016


For the last week or so I've been grieving. One of my best friends left the world and took with her a cookie cuttered section of my heart. My cat Thelma died unexpectedly of kidney disease, something I had no idea she had until the last day of her life. She lived her entire life, health problem free with only one kidney. In true cat fashion, she hid any and all discomfort she ever had from me and every vet she ever saw. Feline, thy name is stoic. It has been exactly a week since I had to say goodbye and I still await her ashes to be delivered to me to punctuate the sentence. Thelma is gone

 I have taken this loss right to the center of my soul, my days unspooling and me, undone and completely bereft by nighttime. I've walked around with boulders at the bottom of my stomach and until today, dreaded any social interaction with anyone because it takes too much energy to glue my psyche together long enough to behave like I'm not made of limp, creased, damp cardboard. I knew when I brought that little cat home almost seven years ago that I was signing up for losing her. We start our lives in contract with death as a fine print agreement. And every interaction we choose from the moment we are able is checking the box over and over again: In consideration of the mutual covenants set forth herein, both parties agree to lose one another to death. I simply, humanly thought I'd have time to prepare my goodbyes. I have not one basis for this assumption and I won't make that mistake again.

I've gotten through the worst of it with the undying support of my sister who was with me in the room when I said goodbye and has not left my side since. I feel sorry for any and everyone who doesn't have a Lorraine in their lives. You should get one. I've also gotten by with the distraction of work and action films, with Radiohead and booze and ice cream and my remaining cat, Greta. With the reassurance of my trusted vet who listened to me cry over the phone and said that I made the only choice I could and with the long, human chain of friends and acquaintances who have been through all of this before and come out on the other side with just the parts of their beloved pets that are worth preserving...the love. It's part of the sales pitch that gets you to sign the contract to begin with and it is worth every single tear.

This morning I felt certain that Thelma the cat visited me. I felt the pressure of her paws land on the bed and skirt around the pillows and head to the windowsill at my head. I felt it and have chosen to believe that she stopped by to say hi and I feel better today, I am still sad, I can't deny it. But the boulders feel whittled down to large stones and I think of Thelma with more smiles than tears. I thought about what to share in here about her, for the knowledge of all the deeply unfortunate souls who never got to meet her. But I don't suppose it would mean much to learn that every night she would follow me into the bedroom and meow impatiently for me to lie down and wouldn't settle down until I did because she was impatient to plant her large little body on top of my stomach or my chest. Or that of all the bellies on all the kitties in the world, Thelma's was the fluffiest and if you ever got to pet her there, you passed the good egg test. She wouldn't let just anyone do it.

Those little things about my little friend mean the world to me and will for the rest of my life. But I guess what I want to get across here, for future me, for future contracts, in case of the likely possibility that my brain will age like shredded wheat is that I once had a cat named Thelma and she was my friend and I miss her a lot.

Thelma Marie (2008-10/11/2016)