It's been nearly two days now since Max drew his last breath. I've been thinking today about my feelings.
I'm not as affected as I expected to be. I don't know if I'm sublimating or if I'm just actually okay with things. I mean, I miss him. I look over at the empty cat bed at my knee that, most of the time, he'd be spawled out in, and my eyes keep flicking to the corner of the couch he ought to be coming around at any moment since he's NOT sitting here beside me. My home doesn't really feel like home just at the moment. There is a hole, yes. But at the same time, I'm not finding myself aching and unable to think of anything else. He comes to mind, I feel sad, but it's not all-consuming, and in a way, I feel bad about that. It feels like I'm cheaping his life and what he meant to me. It feels wrong not to be shattered.
But I kind of had a realization this morning, getting into the shower. I've heard others say the same thing: I seem to do my best thinking in the shower ("wrote" most of yesterday's post ruminating in the warm spray). A cat's life is a pretty simple thing. They eat, sleep most of the time, and when they're awake, they like to interact a little with the other beings in their lives. They're company. Max was a happy presence who, for ten years, kept me from feeling lonely and often delighted me with his attention and his antics. No one lives forever and cats live a nice while, but not really all that long, in human terms. He wasn't going to live forever. Twelve years wasn't enough, but I thought, you know, the average is, what, 15 these days? He got short-changed, but not colossally so. I don't know about his first two years but his last ten were full of a safe, warm place with food constantly available, several litter boxes, umpteen places to sack out and catch sun beams, and the company of (over the course of it) three other cats and two other humans, as well as various occasional visitors, something Max, as the kind of cat he was, always welcomed with happiness and curiosity. There really wasn't all that much more that could have made life better for him, other than maybe having his 'nads and getting to use them a bunch, and me indulging him as a lap cat more often than I did. But I let him crawl all over me at night most of the time he wanted to so I don't feel too bad, I guess. And, when the time came that his life was irreversibly ending, he was in the care of beings who were willing and capable to relieve him of the lingering torture of death by the final exhaustion of unimaginable pain over weeks or months. He had a few bad weeks at the end, but could still eat, still sleep, still get around the day he died. So, really, I think the only regret I can realistically have is that he's not here with me anymore. It's the realization that that was the time we were going to have together, and it was probably written in his genes the day I brought him home nearly ten years ago. We had our time, and it was good, and that was due in large part to me. I got him out of that cage and into a comfortable loving home, where he didn't want for much. Not even a quick, easy, dignified passing from life. Nature would not have been anywhere near so kind.
So here I am, on the second day without him, and to be honest, I haven't cried or lost too much sleep. I did the right things, and I did all I could, and he lived well while he lived. All that's left is the loneliness that's the real, genuine tribute to my friend.
Okay, NOW my eyes are wet. :)