My pets have always been part of my family. I don’t have human children. That, um, just didn’t happen. My wife and I have adopted five pets during our marriage. The current eldest is ready to pass on.
The Johnny Fiend was a little purrball of fluff we rescued. He was a long-haired little cat that looked more like a wisp of cotton when we brought him home. He was always talkative and extremely affectionate. He was my friend during the low points in my life, the high points, and always ready to snuggle at night. His loud purr frequently put me to sleep when nothing else would.
We have pictures of him with his sister Frankie back when they were the only two in our house. He always looked like he was about to ask a question. As I prepare to take him to the vet one last time, he still has that inquisitive look on his face.
This particular ending to his story is not a surprise. He’s been writing it for a couple of years. Guess he finally decided the final draft was ready to publish. And I’ve been prepared. He’s been telling us for a while that the end was coming.
But when the final period was added, my heart broke. There will be an empty place in the bed tonight. I will miss his howling as the water monster washed us clean whenever we took a shower. I’ll miss the fact he stole my damned dirty socks and dragged them under the bed. I’ll miss him purring in my mic while I was podcasting. I’ll miss all of it. And there’s nothing to do but keep those memories alive in these words, lest I forget.
I have three more furry members of my family. Carrie and I love them as though they’re our children, because they are. I think sometimes people with kids think those of us who have only pets are psychotic for putting so much of our emotions in them. Then again, maybe not. Maybe it’s just that trying to compare a so-called “pet” with an actual child makes no sense. But when the only pitter-patter of little feet around the house happens to belong to four-legged family members, you become attached. And this hurts when their presence leaves you. It always does.
As when Pandora died a few years ago, way too soon I might add, I’ll be broken and battered for a while. It’ll be time to pull back and write like a maniac. Because work is the only way to keep from having those feelings smash you into little bits.
Don’t be surprised if I’m quiet for a few days while I figure this out. Of course, knowing the fact I don’t know when to shut the fuck up, that may not happen. It’s my curse of having a big mouth. But today, I have little to say other than the fact I’ll miss my friend. And the fact there’s a hole in my heart.
Rest in peace, Johnny Cat. I shall miss you more than you will ever know.