Saturday, April 29, 2017

Death, Ninja Kitty, and Zombies

We recently had to have my cat, Boo, euthanized. She was 15 years old and has been suffering from kidney failure for the past few years. It wasn’t unexpected, but it was still sad. I cried a lot. She was a great cat, and also a ninja. (My husband will try to tell you she wasn’t a ninja, but he’s wrong.)
She was also good at selfies.
The weird thing about death is, while everyone expects sadness from the loss, I don’t think anyone expects all the other ridiculous sadness that creeps up once the initial grief passes.

I wasn’t expecting to see her water dish and suddenly start thinking about my uncles who passed years ago, or my grandparents who passed years before that, or my great-aunt and great-uncle who passed even longer ago, and whom I barely have any memories of because I was so young when they died. But I still miss them, even though it's completely irrational.

I wasn’t expecting to become gloomy when reading a funny line in a book about how scorpions don’t vacation at the beach. I probably would have laughed, except that it reminded me of the time my ex and his friends took a pet scorpion to the beach, assuming it would like it because they’re from the desert. Instead, it got too hot and died.

And I was sad.

Almost 20 years later.

Because of a dead scorpion.

I didn’t even know the scorpion, and despite my love for almost all living creatures, I don’t even like scorpions.

Then today we got a card from the vet. I haven’t opened it yet. I’m not sure I want to. Partially because I know it will say something along the lines of “We’re so sorry for your loss,” and that will make me sad again (my main coping mechanism is pretending the bad things didn’t happen, and I can’t do that while reading a card that reminds me something bad did happen). 

But I also don’t want to open it because the less rational side of me thinks the card says something else. The part of my brain that writes scary stories and wants to buy every book with the word ‘ghost’ in the title wonders if the card actually says, “We’re so sorry, but there has been a terrible mistake. The injection we gave your beloved pet to send her over the rainbow bridge actually created a zombie virus. Please accept our sincere apology.”

This makes me sad at first, but then I start to think maybe a zombie kitty wouldn’t be so bad. She’d stumble around slowly, playfully trying to eat my brains. It couldn’t be any more dangerous than when she was fully alive and ran under my feet when I was trying to walk down the stairs. I mean, I don’t think I can even count how many times cats have nearly killed be by running under my feet.

But then I get sad again, because I know she’s not coming back, not even as a zombie. And neither is anyone else I’ve lost.

And I think this is why death gets harder and harder to deal with as I get older, even though it should get easier with practice. Each time it happens, I’m not just losing someone. I’m adding to the list of those I’ve already lost, and the permanence of that loss seems a little more permanent with each passing year.

It would be better if everyone could just come back as ghosts. I’d love some ghost kitties floating around the house. They’d smell better than zombie kitties. And they’d be less dangerous for my brains.

Good-bye Boo Boo. I'll miss you, ninja kitty.