Most of us say TGIF. We dread Fridays. Last Friday our car died. And why should Friday the 13th be any different?
The most important lesson I've learned through this whole ordeal is this: Mercy, humanity and compassion are always trumped by a name on a dotted line of a deed or mortgage and that the very act of pleading for mercy, humanity and compassion is nothing more than "harassment."
Four days ago, Sweetie, our cat, stopped eating. For weeks, the only way she'd eat is if I'd spoon-fed her her favorite food (salmon). I was virtually the only person who kept her alive because she'd eat for me and not even Barb.
When our little fighter gave up and stopped eating early this week, I knew the end was near. She weighed perhaps no more than four pounds and I knew that organ failure was imminent. I took stock of our situation. We rent an upstairs apartment. We have no front or back yard. We can't afford cremation or a full-blown funeral. Our car died a week ago and we have at least $800 in car repair bills plus $650 in rent to worry about coming up with.
I figured, since I'd mowed her lawns hundreds of times and literally put my blood, sweat and tears into her property over the last 15 years, that I would've earned the right to bury our sweet little cat in Ingrid's back yard next to Sheena so we could give her a dignified goodbye. I emailed her asking her for a 15 minute moratorium on her No Trespass order in exchange for over 15 years of selfless and hard work. That's a good exchange, I thought. I was ignored. I emailed her again and was ignored. I texted her when the end was near last night. I was ignored. I left a message on her voice mail begging her for mercy. At that time, Sweetie's front legs were up and outstretched, as if reaching for the light.
Finally, she responded. Through the police. They called my cell phone and claimed I was "harassing" her and threatened me with another restraining order. The organ donor on the other end also said I wasn't making any sense when I simply asked for a place to bury our poor little cat, our devoted little friend. What were my options? Throwing her body in the dumpster? Sticking her in the freezer? I gave Ingrid a way out of this and to show some mercy and compassion for an innocent little animal who never went out of her way to hurt anyone.
But, as usual, she had to have everything her way and, once again, marched into the local police station waving printouts of my emails. And, as usual, their reverse chauvinism allowed them to see things her way and to allow themselves to be used as her private security force.
Meanwhile, Barb and I were all alone in the world during this death watch. Twice I thought she was dead and twice I was wrong. It's ironic that in these four days since she'd stopped eating, her always-troubled and noisy breathing got quiet. We laid her next to us in bed while she moved her legs, occasionally mewing, as if she was meeting God or St. Peter.
But it wasn't God. He ignored me when I prayed to him in desperation. I've been ignored by dozens of literary agents, dozens of prospective employers, by people who used to be loved ones. Why should God be any different?
By this morning she was finally gone. My little friend, who just yesterday afternoon in the final hours of her life somehow mustered her failing strength to walk up to me and nuzzle against me as if to say, "It's OK," finally crossed over.
My little friend is gone as are all the friends I ever had and lost this year. Sweetie can teach certain people some lessons. Lessons in how to love unconditionally. Lessons in tolerance and patience (she went through hell during the drive up from Vero Beach.) Lessons in not easily giving up on that which is most precious in this world.
Instead, the lesson I learned is that a name on a dotted line trumps any appeal for mercy and compassion when you have no other humane options. And it doesn't matter if that name on the dotted line happens to be that of a soulless husk and black hole of a... human being, for want of a better phrase.
That poor little cat, who never asked for cancer and who loved everyone, a cat named Sweetie who lived up to her name in every way, shape and form, deserved better. I'm glad that she found Barb and then me. I'm glad that her end came in a warm bed next to two people who loved her mightily. I'm grateful that they both reminded me that, yes, compassion and humanity are never the wrong things to ask for.
I'm ashamed that I wasted the last 15 years on Ingrid Reed and her lying, larcenous, viper's nest of a family. I'm ashamed to admit that I ever knew her or her progeny. But those 15 wasted years were redeemed in the last 14 weeks of my life, which is how long Sweetie was my friend. She'd lived a hard life in the wilds of Stamford, CT where she had to hunt for her own food and did it badly. She was fortunate enough to find Barb and then she was fortunate enough to find me and, knowing she was ill (though I didn't know how ill), I insisted she come up for the trip. Because the alternative, having her turned out by her mother, was intolerable.
And in a way, even though her final four days has been devastating to me (to say nothing about how much her friend of 5-6 years has been devastated), even though her final descent made me cry harder than I ever had in my entire life, dissolving me in long, racking sobs of grief and rage lasting for entire minutes, I have to remember what Tennyson said about loving and losing and how it's better than never loving at all.
And Sweetie, our pet, our devoted little friend, reminded me through her selfless example that love, indeed, can still be justified and worth the grief when it's no longer there.