Saturday night/Sunday morning
RW: Well, Missy-toes, it’s 2 am; we’ve watched SNL, a tape of Chuck, and this episode of Traveler is almost over – you about ready to hit the hay, Eloise?
Eloise: Uh – uh, oh, I need help! I can’t walk straight – I can hardly walk at all! What’s happening?
RW: Oh, shit! Baby Cat, are you okay? Does it hurt? Hold still. Let me hold you.
Eloise: Whoa, that’s a trip. I can’t make my legs work right. My brain is gefukt, isn’t it?
RW: Probably. Let me get a shower and some clothes on; I’ll call a cab and we’ll go to the vet. Why do you cats always do this to me? It’s 2:30 am on Sunday morning – do you think any vet is open other than the emergency? This is not going to be fun. Look, let’s put your bed right here by the tub, will you stay still for a moment while I shower? Just don’t move.
RW: Okay, I’m cleaner and awake – it’ll probably take a bit for the cab; how are you holding up?
Eloise: I crapped in my bed. Also, I think I’m going to throw up.
Can you clean it up? It’s disturbing.
RW: No prob. Other than that are you okay? Breathing okay, feeling okay?
Eloise: I’m…I’m alright when you keep me still. I can’t really groom; could you stroke me? It helps. It feels like grooming. Ahhh…that’s it. Prrrrrrr…
RW: Man, this is not good – your eyes are shaking from side to side. I wish Boo was here; he’s going to be so heartbroken. You do know if we go to the vet that you won’t be coming home?
Eloise: Yeah. Yeah, I understand. Let me just rest for a moment.
RW: You’ll let me know if you’re hurting won’t you? Because we can go – I’ll do anything to keep you from hurting. Boo will understand.
Eloise: I’m mostly just tired now – can we not go right now? When will Boo be home?
RW: Tomorrow, tomorrow in the evening. You don’t have to wait that long.
Eloise: Yeah, just let me rest.
RW: I’ll be right here.
Eloise: Are you awake?
RW: Yeah. This floor is really hard. On the other hand, my arms and legs are going numb, so I probably won’t feel it soon.
Eloise: I pooped again – could you get it? It’s very undignified.
RW: I think you’re kind of past dignity at this point.
Eloise: Speak for yourself – brain damage maybe, but these things still matter.
RW: Well, you always were so graceful…you’re still very beautiful.
Eloise: Don’t lie to me. I’m staggering like a drunken sailor. This really sucks.
RW: Well, try not to move. Want to go sit on the couch? I can still call that cab if you want…
Eloise: No. Clean up that poop; let’s talk for a while. We don’t get much chance to do that any more.
RW: Well, you are nocturnal. When you’re not sleeping 20 hours a day.
Eloise: I’m a cat. Try not to focus on that so much – I’m a creature of instinct; what’s your excuse?
RW: You haven’t had to use your instincts too much – we’ve tried very hard to give you an easy life.
Eloise: Instinct is not something that just shuts off – my social interactions, my general behavior, all instinctual.
RW: So what’s the cardboard box thing about? I’ve never seen a cardboard box in the wild.
Eloise: Do you have a cardboard box?
Eloise: Well, get a cardboard box. You’ll either understand, or you won’t.
RW: Right. …and the dancing?
Eloise: Hey, that’s your thing. You started dancing with me, not the other way ‘round.
RW: Takes two to tango…
Eloise: I suppose. I dunno. It’s fun. You’re fun. You play with me a lot; a little dancing now and then is a kick. But that red-dot thing is more fun.
RW: I don’t think either is a good idea right now.
Eloise: Yes. I think my dancing days are over. I’m going to die now, aren’t I?
RW: Yes, I think that’s true. If you need to go, I’ll stay with you. Or if you need help we can get some. Seriously, if it hurts at all, we can end it. Just a short cab ride, and they’ll put you to sleep.
Eloise: I’m okay. Let’s keep talking. You’ve been a good friend.
RW: You’ve been a good cat – you’re the smartest, most graceful, most beautiful cat we’ve had. And you know how much I loved Ethan…
Eloise: Oh, yeah, Ethan. Not the sharpest claw in the paw…
RW: Well, but Rhoda…
Eloise: Oh, that girl was a real mess. It’s been a rough couple years with the pets, hasn’t it? You’re not going to have any kitties left, are you?
RW: You’re making me cry. I don’t want you to go.
Eloise: I’m not going anywhere yet…where do you think I’ll go?
RW: I have no idea. Do you know the song Strawberry Fields?
Eloise: Beatles? You never play the Beatles.
RW: Yeah, it’s more my parents thing…”Let me take you down, ‘cause you’re going to strawberry fields…nothing is real, and nothing to get hung about…” Sorry, I don’t know all the words. “Living is easy with eyes closed; don’t be surprised if it’s a dream…” shit, I’m out, and this is just making me cry again…the point is, I’m hoping it’s going to be nice for you. But I really have no idea. I’m not very religious, and even if I were, most religions are kinda fucked up about pets.
Eloise: I’m pretty sure I don’t believe in an afterlife.
RW: Really? Lots of humans do…
Eloise: Not all – take the ancient Celts. They didn’t.
RW: Well, it might have just never occurred to them, but you’re right they didn’t.
Eloise: And yet, if they needed to fight, they did it. Naked, wearing nothing but a metal torque around their necks and fierce expressions…you don’t have to believe in an afterlife to not fear death.
RW: I’m not sure I follow – do you know what time it is? Where’d you learn human history, anyway?
Eloise: I read some – you know I’m in your lap, or Boo’s, whenever you two are reading, or browsing the web…and I loved lying around on the Sunday New York Times…nice to keep up on the news.
RW: Well, without actually having to live most of it, I guess you’re right. But I’m still not tracking you on the Celts.
Eloise: I’m just saying that when the Celts went to battle, they didn’t spend the time beforehand praying and hoping they’d be good enough to get into Heaven. They spent the time getting ready to fight as hard as they could – they got into a mind of fierceness and killing and winning.
RW: Ah, I see what you’re saying; they’re like cats – they just go at it.
Eloise: No, they’re nothing like cats – they’re humans. Celts. They probably did fear death. But they didn’t let it stop them.
RW: Now I think I understand. You’re telling me you’re ready if it’s time…
Eloise: Hell no. Nobody’s ever ready. Except maybe those who suffer. Then it’s probably better when it stops. But mostly, I’m talking about you – you get so afraid that you don’t do anything.
RW: Excuse me?
Eloise: Hey, no offense. But you know what I mean. You even get so depressed you’ll be too paralyzed to do anything. Except think about dying. And yet you worry about my suffering.
RW: Are you suffering?
Eloise: Nope. My dignity, a little. And nice change of subject.
RW: Well, that’s not so bad.
Eloise: Again…you are not a cat. Dignity matters more than you’ll ever understand. This is unacceptable. But you’re right – I’m not ready to go just yet. Sometime soon. In the wild, I’d go find a quiet place to lie down, and in a day or two I’d die. We cats can’t live long without eating, and there’s no way I could hunt like this. And you still changed the subject.
RW: That would be hard. Humans don’t do that. Most don’t. Maybe a few.
Eloise: I’m pleased not to be alone in the woods. You’re very warm, and I like hearing your heartbeat. You could sing some more.
RW: Really, I don’t know the words. And it makes me cry too much.
Eloise: Well, crying’s up to you. I’m not crying. I don’t really understand humans and crying.
RW: …I don’t think I can explain it either. I’m crying because you’ll be gone, and you won’t be here, and I won’t see you anymore.
Eloise: Um…okay, chalk it up to unfathomable differences I guess. Cats don’t cry. So, you want to watch Lord of the Rings?
RW: Maybe tomorrow. I mean, it’s already tomorrow, but after I close my eyes for a bit.
Eloise: Go in on the bed, let’s sleep. You’re going to have to help me get up on the bed.
RW: Not a problem…but how will you stay on?
Eloise: Just be still, and I’ll be still. For a while.
RW: You sure? We could stay here.
Eloise: Nah, the floor is hard and cold, and you can’t sleep. I’d rather be warm and soft anyway.
RW: Alright – but I’m still dressed if you need to go to the vet…
Eloise: I’ll let you know.
Eloise: You changed the subject you know…earlier…
RW: …and I will again. Go to sleep.
Eloise: You don’t have to be so afraid. After all, at least you know what matters to you.
RW: I do?
Eloise: This does. The time with others. The living with the living. The conversation. “Only connect…” You don’t care so much about things like those in the newspapers, but you live for people. Or, you know, “people”. Like cats. And, die a little for them too, when they go.
RW: Yeah. I worry too much about stupid stuff. “What if” stuff. I try to find a line between planning ahead and fretting, but I never really do. I just fret. Change is scary to me.
Eloise: Meanwhile, there’s a war going on, the religious right is destroying your country and all the freedoms you believe in, and you’ve spent the evening bored off your ass, watching TV, and taking care of a dying cat. I submit your priorities are fucked even more than my brain. You don’t even fret about the real stuff.
RW: I’m not comparing my pain. I know that my hurts are trivial. Work sucked this week. Finances are fucked again. The weather was colder than I like. I’m losing a pet. Boo-fucking-hoo. But they’re what I have to work with. Besides, I do what I can. Just not much that makes a difference.
Eloise: Sing to me once more. It makes a difference to me. Send me off, and think of me happy.
RW: I really don’t want to sing Strawberry Fields anymore. Besides, and this probably isn’t a good time to remind you, but you’ve been deaf for at least 10 months now. I might as well sing you a kitty song.
Eloise: You and your kitty songs. Singing “meow meow meow” instead of the real lyrics doesn’t make it a kitty song. You know you’re going to be doing that for weeks after I’m gone now, don’t you?
RW: Probably. But it will help me remember you. I don’t want to say good bye.
Eloise: Hush. Say it tomorrow – Monday tomorrow, not just a few hours from now. I’m feeling fine being still right here. Let Boo say good-bye when he gets home later. Spend another night with me. I can wait. I’m in no pain. Monday morning, well, I’ll be getting pretty hungry by then.
RW: You’re purring.
Eloise: I’m listening to your heart. You should give it a try once in a while.
RW: You’re a very smart kitty. I love you.
Eloise: Sleep now. No, wait, sing me something. I’ll lie here on your chest, and listen to your heartbeat. I can feel you singing. You can feel my purr. Let me be content for a while.
RW: “Let me take you down, ‘cause you’re going to…strawberry fields…and nothing is real – there’s nothing to get hung about…Strawberry fields forever. Strawberry fields forever. Strawberry fields forever.”
Rest in peace, Eloise Sabine, put to final sleep at 2:30 pm today, after a sudden neurological episode in the early morning hours of Sunday, November 11. She was 15 years old, and brought great joy to Boo and me all her life.