March 19, 2008

An Eulogy for Mr. Jones

Dear Mr. Jones,

In August of 1993 I began the process of moving into my very own apartment for the very first time. I was just about to turn 19. I knew the first thing I would need to take care of was to find myself a pet. I had always loved animals and had lost my dog, Corky, who I had spent 15 years with, less than 2 years before. My apartment lease stipulated that I was allowed a neutered, declawed cat. So I hit the local shelter looking for you.

I spent the entire day meeting cats in a little "meet and greet" room. None of them really seemed right for me. I began to think maybe I just wasn't a cat person?

Near the end of the day, the shelter informed me that I could try their "long-term" facility. That's where they kept cats who had been with them longer than the standard time allowed. These cats were usually harder to adopt.

I drove across town to arrive at the "long-term care" facility less than an hour before it closed. I don't remember if they showed me any other cats there. I only remember meeting you.

You were this medium sized, soft gray kitty with a regal panther-like head. They put you into this tiny room with me and you immediately began softly pawing at my shins and jumped into my lap. I was a little shocked. But then, you placed your paws on either side of my head, one on each shoulder - and you stared me straight in the eyes. It was as if you were saying, "Look no further....I'm the one." And you were. You are. You finished off your declaration by licking my face and taking a little nibble on my chin. I was completely hooked.

The ladies working at the shelter were so excited when I chose you. They said you had recently stopped eating and they suspected it was because you were so sick of being there. You had been there a very long time, they said. Your whole life, you continued to despise being put into any kind of cage, carrier, or car. I wonder now if it was because of your earlier experiences at the shelter. I also wonder who in their right mind could have ever given you up.

So, they sent me home with you. They thought you might be a Russian Blue and about 2.5 - 3 years old. I thought you were amazing, charming, and delightful. I still do.

You quickly ended your hunger strike once I brought you home. You ate everything I put in front of you and yelled for more. You gained weight quickly.

You were loud and insistent, always, about everything. I named you Mr. Jones after James Earl Jones - because of your amazing voice. Shortly after bringing you home, "Mr. Jones", by the Counting Crows, hit the radio and I thought it was an appropriate serenade to you.

There were times, in that first studio apartment, when I ran out of money to buy food for either one of us. I baked up potatoes and we ate them together on my pull-out bed. On paydays I would bring you home some yummy cat food from the corner store and I would bring Ben and Jerry's home for myself. You were happy to share in my ice cream as well.

There were also times, in that first studio apartment, when I neglected you - stayed out too many nights, didn't spend enough time with you. So, you got pissed off, and you bit me. A couple of times. Just to make sure I got the message. I stayed home more, spent more time with you - and you mellowed out again. You weren't only reminding me of my responsibilities to you, you were protecting me. That was a wild and dangerous time in my life and needing to come home to you at night often saved me from some pretty bad situations. Thank you.

Then, you suffered moves across the country and back, with me. You suffered the introduction of a new little kitty (who you hated and who eventually - for her own protection- went to live with a roommate of mine) and the introduction of a puppy who soon became a very large dog and then, much later, another puppy who became an even bigger dog. You always did much better with dogs than cats. I think it is because you were always such a bad-ass and could never stomach the idea of sharing your territory with another cat. But somehow, dogs were ok with you. In fact, I think you really liked them.

Your voice remained your signature characteristic throughout your life. Whether you were waking me or my roommates up because, god forbid there be a closed door in the house somewhere, or whether you were just saying hello - you were loud and proud of it. Often, when I was on the phone, someone would hear you in the background and ask if there was a baby crying. "Nope, that's just Jones" I would say. Between your loud commanding voice and your motorboat purring - there was never any doubt of your presence.

The last five years or so, you have lived with me and my husband (your papa) and the two dogs. You have been part of a family. You loved my husband from the get-go, in fact it seemed like sometimes you just couldn't get enough of him. I was devastated when we first married and we thought he was horribly allergic to you. Thankfully, we were mistaken - and you have slept upon our heads, our hair, our faces, and our pillows, ever since. You loved being as close as you could get to us. And even though this was incredibly inconvenient for sleeping - we loved you for this as well.

The last couple of years have been hard. You lost a lot of weight. Your voice changed a bit. You sometimes woke us up in the middle of the night yelling from the bottom of the stairs, seeming confused and lost in your own house. Your coat became matted and dull, you slept all the time, and you began drinking water obsessively (and only out of specific containers - namely, the toilet, the dog bowls, and a random orange cup). But you were tough and you seemed to be hanging in there. We began putting out water-downed canned food every night to supplement your meals, and you loved it. By now of course my preference in cat food had matured a lot since 1993 when I was poor and single in a studio apartment. I obsessed about getting you the best, most natural, most healthy food I could provide. I was trying to do everything I could to help you to live as long as I could.

You lived a long life, 17+ stayed strong until the very end - two days ago it was obvious you were beginning to let go. You stopped eating, you became very lethargic and weak, and you lost more weight, very rapidly. Still, I kept hoping. I brought home every variety of soft and tasty foods I could find, I gave you fluids under your skin. I felt terrible for poking you with those needles - I hope you know now that I was only trying to do anything I could to make you feel better.

Today, I gave up. I gave up the fight to try to make you better. You seemed as though you had given up already yourself. I agonized over this decision. I wondered if I was doing the right thing. The Dr. said "yes", your papa said "yes", even you seemed to be saying "yes, it is time". But it killed me to say so, myself. I would have done almost anything if I thought there had been any hope. But I couldn't justify sticking you with more needles, cooping you up in a cage (which you HATE) for several days - just to find out if we could squeeze a week or a month more out of our time with you. That would be selfish. But still, even now - I feel so unsure. I wonder if we made the right choice - I wonder if we took the choice away from you. I hope somewhere somehow you know that we did this because we love you so much and we didn't want you to be in pain or suffer - you deserved much better than that.

You have always been an amazing companion to me. You've been in my life longer than any other "guy", you have protected me, comforted me, challenged me, and forever, forever - you have changed me. Thank you for coming into my life, into our lives. Thank you for choosing me all those years ago, for believing that I - that crazy 18 year old girl - could be the one you love, could be the one lucky enough to share a life with you, could be the one you trust. I hope that I have become the person, the companion, the mother, you believed I could be and I hope that you know that so much of who I have become is because I was so lucky to have you to love and to love me.

Thank you.

I hope with my whole heart that you are somewhere right now, eating fresh grass and lying in the sun. I hope that you are whole, that you are healed, that you are strong. That you are more than you ever were here. I hope you have claws again on all four feet (you came to me declawed). I hope there is someone or something there to hold you, to love you, to rub your ears, and to lie upon - to your heart's content. I hope you are filled with all the love that I have for you and that your papa has for you as well. I hope you are happy and that you know that even though we miss you terribly and the space you filled in our lives and our hearts can never be repaired - I hope you know we will be ok. I hope that you don't worry about us too much. And mostly, I hope I get to meet you again in that place - and that we remember one another and that finally I will be able to tell you and be sure you understand just how very much I love you and how very much you have always and will always mean to me. And I hope - that someday I will hear your voice again, and I will finally really understand what you are saying.

Thank you Mr. Jones. We love you. More than we could ever express. Thank you.


For now.


Lori said...

Your cat is very deserving of his own hit song.

Lovely tribute.

Alwen said...

Oh, sweetie, I'm so, so sorry. This must be breaking your heart terribly. Mr. Jones was so lucky to be loved so fully and so deeply and I know the love you felt for him his whole life and so fully these last couple of days is absolutely filling him up, creating for him a beautiful new life somewhere. I love you!

annacyclopedia said...

These last 2 posts made me cry. I'm so sorry you've lost such a good friend. I hope it brings you some comfort to know that for all the love and protection he gave you, it sounds like you returned it all and then some.

Chrissy said...

I am going to miss Mr. Jones very much. Even though I am allergic I could never resist snuggling up with him. I remember sitting for you guys and he would sleep on my head and I didn't care what the consequences, he was just too darn loud and cute!

nancy said...

awww. I'm in tears over your loss of mr jones.

What a wonderful eulogy for him though. He was lucky to have you as a momma.

My own chloe-kitty was lost at 13 years to kidney disease last year. Your story brought out so many memories of her last days - we went through a very similar experience.

I hope chloe-kitty is making mr jones feel welcome. Chloe-kitty also hated other cats, but I bet they are making an exception today.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry Duffy. Losing a pet is a horrible experience. I know in my heart that Mr. Jones is thinking of you and thanking you for doing what needed to be done to make him happy. Big hugs to you right now and always.

Meg said...

Oh, these last two posts have made me cry each time I return to your blog. I am so, so sorry. You were a wonderful mother to Mr.Jones and I bet he is in a much more comfortable, healthy state right cup, Ben and Jerry's and all.

Huge hugs my dear.

Denise said...

I'm so sorry about Mr. Jones. I can tell that he was very loved and well cared for.

Sheralee said...

Duffy - Stuart pulled up your blog for me tonight. I sat at my kitchen table, read the last 2 posts and cried. I'm sorry I never got to meet Mr. Jones, but thank you for putting his life, and the beautiful connection you had, into these words. What an amazing tribute.

Good to see you last night ... sending a big hug!

Jen said...

I am sooo sorry. Losing a pet has been one of the hardest things I've ever gone through.

Lots of hugs!