As I write this, Bonnie has now been gone a year. She died sometime between 12:20 and 12:40 on May 6, 2013. An entire year has now gone by since she died.
May 6 was a Monday that year. I remember how things went. The evening before, watching her puzzling over how to drink water. Trying to help her with it. Deciding that if it was still the same in the morning, it was time. I remember having to call the vet who made house calls and ask her to come by and deliver Bonnie from it all. It was a rough six months for her. Cancer, a thyroid condition, liver problems… in and out of the vet, sometimes overnight. I wish she could have been spared all that and simply died in her sleep like Jenny. But at least when it was absolutely clear she wasn’t going to get better and was on the verge of really suffering, there was something calm and peaceful we were able to do.
It’s been a year and home still isn’t quite home without her. It’s like I’m waiting for her to show up. Seth and Ally and there and both of them have been getting more affectionate, each in his or her own way, but it’s not quite the same. Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for their company and could never in good conscience wish them away to get her back. It’s just that I really miss who and what Bonnie was in my life. Bonnie was an all-round terrific cat. With the exception of those jags of peeing on my bed, she was essentially perfect. She was attentive, vocal, would typically show up if I called her, didn’t mind guests, liked to be picked up and cuddled, and even seemed to do things because she’d decided they pleased me. In my mind, she took on something like the status of a mute teenage girl with some relative learning disabilities. There were tints of “wife” and “mother” in how I interacted with her as well. How I conceived of her as a person, and I do mean as a person, was complicated, nuanced, and unique. I know she was a cat. But there are all kinds of cats, just like there are all kinds of dogs, and all kinds of humans.
When I first adopted her from Petsmart, they told me she’d had a litter and the kittens had been placed. I sure hope that’s true. What a real shame it would be if those gentle loving genes weren’t passed on, and making other people happy today.
I think the one consolation I have is that I never took her for granted. I knew what I had in her was a fine, precious thing and that if I lived long enough, it would pass from daily life into memory, as it has. I took every opportunity to let her know I loved her, and I’m inclined to think she knew that. In her own ways, she did the same.
Thank you, Pumpkin Girl. You were rich cream in the coffee of my life all those years. You made home home.
And what a year it’s been without her. Within ten weeks of her death, I was unemployed. I spent the summer, then the autumn, without her and without a job. Then I got a job early in December at a place that literally gave me nightmares; far more emasculating and humiliating than simply not having a job. How many interviews I went on over nine months, seven of them without a job, I’ve long lost count of.
As it turns out, in March, I found another job. A year-long contract with the likelihood of becoming permanent, out in Cambridge. Cambridge is a long drive from Toronto and though it was my intention to move, as time goes by, I find myself more and more disenchanted with the idea and more inclined to stay in Toronto, braving the traffic and high cost of gas.
It’s not that Cambridge is a bad place. It has its charms. It’s just that the life I’ve made for myself is in the GTA, and I fear that I stand to watch it erode and slowly vanish as friends find the drive to get together too onerous and, though with all good intentions, slowly disappear from my life. I’m well into my 40s and this is the life I have; for what it is, it suits me and I enjoy it. So here I’m caught between having a job and having a life. I like this job, and the folks I work with, but to tell the truth, I don’t think I’m through looking.