Woke up in the country on Christmas Eve morning, feeling extraordinarily good — so much so that I jumped out of bed and worked out first thing in the morning. Maybe it was the air, maybe the view out my bedroom window from this high house surrounded
by plunging ravines full of plumbline-straight beech trunks, so that it feels like it’s in the treetops; maybe it was the roaring fire in the huge fireplace, the Christmas tree sized to match, the warmhearted and welcoming company, the flowing eggnog and wine, the challenge of wrapping artistically classic Christmas packages
… it might have been my first springy step on this new road, except that the phone rang around 4 P.M. and I happened to answer.
It was my cat care person; she was in tears. “One of your cats has passed away,” she said.
I would have been totally shocked if it was anyone but Dito; but it was him, of course — going on 15 years old, on meds for hyperthyroidism, showing signs of kidney atrophy, and suffering from bad teeth because after I lost my job I could not afford veterinary surgery — I’d been aware of his pain and looking forward to soon being able to take care of it at last. He’d been uncomfortable but not remotely terminal. Something sudden happened to him, the feline equivalent of a stroke or heart attack or pulmonary embolism. The chronic inflammation must have been a contributing factor. If I could have done his teeth in time, he might have lived another year or two, especially with subcutaneous fluids for his kidneys. But he was not young.
Chris said, “Well? He was Jacques’ cat.” Nathan, who rescued him as a tiny kitten from a Korean mountainside with us in mind, speculated with me that one way to look at it is that Jacques waited till I was out of the way, then came and got him.
I groped in the empty space where Jacques should have been to share the sadness with.