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A few months ago my beloved cat, Minkis, passed away. I have had two cats over the course of my life that I would call a "wise old soul," the sort of cat who, when you dream about him, talks to you in English, and is the most understanding of friends. Minkis, still not an old cat at 10, was becoming that for me. He was my sleeping mate. I felt cozier and more secure with him lying peacefully at the foot of my bed every night. He could always sense when I was upset, and especially at those times, but also just randomly, he would come spend a few minutes lying on my chest, sometimes drooling, but always compassionate, just saying hello. I regret that sometimes, when I was sad or upset, I was also impatient, and sometimes gently picked him up off my chest as though I had no time for him. As though his kindness weren't good enough, or as though I didn't deserve it.

He enjoyed when I pushed my hand hard against his nose. He shoved his nose into my hand likewise and my hand slid up his face. Often he would lie with his tongue sticking lazily out of his mouth. He was incredibly flexible, and could look comfortable in any position, often on his back with his arms (legs) stretched out wide exposing his fluffy belly. I used to lie on my back and in strange positions and watch him imitate me. He responded to me, seemed to understand me. We would have long sessions just gazing into each other's eyes. Sometimes he would roll trustingly onto his back, or urge me to pet him when we'd gazed for a while, but often we would just gently stare, acknowledging each other, loving each other, and I knew he was expressing love... or something like that... because you can't look so into someone's eyes without them just knowing. That's what we shared in those moments of gazing: a knowing. I don't know what kind of knowing it was, but we both knew it. We saw each other. I think he knew I loved him too. He was a blessing, even though I called him part of the "cursed litter," because I got in really big trouble at school the day he was born. When a kitten, we watched Jesus Christ Superstar together, I reinacting the part of choice (which invariably depended on which song parts were most fun to perform), and he and his brother and sisters represented everyone else.

He died suddenly on August 4th around 11:00 in the morning. He was sleeping in his favourite spot on the end of my bed. I almost wasn't there when it happened. I had been sleeping downstairs that morning, and perhaps around 10:00 am, I decided to slip into my bed. Or perhaps, he waited for me, and wanted me there. He woke me up by reaching out his paw, rubbing it against my leg. There was something about him, almost intimate, but I couldn't tell. Then he started moaning and making horrible choking sounds as though he were coughing up a fur-ball. Something like that had happened before, but I had comforted him, and showed him that I would always be there for him. He screamed a few times, not particularly loud, but painfully. He stopped breathing a couple times, then coughing, came back to himself. A moment later, I saw his eyes change, his body relax, and I could tell he was no longer there.

Thirty seconds earlier he was lying peacefully on my bed, and then he was gone. It all happened so fast. Too quickly for emotion. I was shocked. It was almost easier to give up hope, or to pretend it wasn't happening, than to try to revive him. I guess I realised that I wouldn't forgive myself if I didn't try. I waited a few seconds, to make sure he wasn't coming back, and then I did CPR the best I knew how. I squeezed him about six times, and his body started vibrating. I kept squeezing, and his body vibrated again. I kept trying, but nothing. I might have kept trying, but at that point it was really too horrifying to me, and I wasn't sure I was doing it right, anyway. It was easier to just accept it and go tell someone what happened. Even for those few seconds, it was so difficult keeping it to myself.

I don't know how he died. It sounds like a heart attack or something. Sometimes I wonder if he didn't die from absorbing so much of my pain.

My mom tells me she's glad I was there with him. That he wanted me to be with him when he died. Maybe that's why he waited until I went back to bed. Maybe that was a coincidence. I don't know. He did reach out his paw to me. I hear about cats being embarassed to die, but he woke me up, called out to me. Maybe he expected me to do something, thought I was more powerful than I am, and I let him down. But his death was another really intimate moment together. One I cherish, as horrifying as it was, and as difficult as it is to remember those eyes emptying of soul. I don't know if it's true, but she says cats normally defecate when they die. She thinks he contained his bowels, there on my bed, to show respect for me.

Those moments flashed through my mind obsessively over the next few days, and I don't think I've totally gotten over it. Even though I saw him pass, I still sometimes doubt the reality of it, still have to remind myself that he's not here. What's more, when I hear someone grunt, or moan, or even sigh, my heart often leaps, expecting the worst. Sometimes even if it's just an ordinary sound someone would make getting dressed or going to the bathroom, my heart pounds, and I'm so scared. If someone moans in their sleep I have to look closely to make sure they're still breathing.


Arthyen Ocean

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