This morning, when we arrived home from the emergency vet, eyes swollen from crying, head aching from sobs, my sister rolled over in my bed and said,
“Well, David Bowie is dead. Leave it to David Bowie to upstage my cat.”
For a second I was confused, what was she talking about? I couldn’t think past the fog and she had to say it again,
“David Bowie died. He had cancer.”
I felt sad for him, and his family, his children and wife. But I was angry for a moment. Why were we talking about David Bowie?
This isn’t a eulogy for David Bowie.
Barely an hour earlier, we had left the emergency vet after rushing our cat Lucky in because she had begun mouth breathing. In case you don’t know, and as we were made abundantly aware, mouth breathing in cats is an emergency situation. When were arrived we were given the limited options available for a cat whose age fell somewhere between 15 and 17 years.
Lucky was never very forthcoming about her age, it was one of her more charming qualities.
By the end of the visit, it was clear that the only option available to our tiny tortie was to cross the rainbow bridge. Which is the most depressing euphemism for death that I have ever heard. I know it’s meant to comfort us as we make these choices that we can’t explain, that we can’t help them understand what’s about to happen, to ask them if they’re ready. We just have to trust in our false superiority as humans that we know what’s best. Which frankly, is utter bullshit.
So, surrounded by her loved ones and with my tears falling on her forehead, my sweet girl took her last breath. I believe that open-heart surgery sans anesthesia would have been less painful than those moments.
This is not a eulogy for David Bowie. It’s a eulogy for my sweet cat, Lucky.
I’ve always believed that animals are better than any human being could dream of being. No matter how hard we try, we will never match their kindness and trust, and their unfailing ability to forgive no matter how often we let them down. It’s almost like they sense that you need their love, and they just give it, without question. No matter how undeserving we are.
My Lucky, circa 2000, wasn’t a cat who gave her love unfailingly. On the contrary, with her it had to be earned, and for some reason it was women who had to work the hardest to earn it. But when you had it, it was the warmest, gentlest kind of love.
She spent the early days of her kittenhood in a home with an uninterested male companion, decided that she had had enough, and moved in with my dad soon after. She was unimpressed by my sister and I, but as far as she was concerned the sun rose and set on my father and my brother. Often she would perch herself on the arm of my dad’s chair with her front paws on his shoulder, and her chin on her paws, while he read the paper. She eventually warmed up to us but she always stayed a man’s girl.
Lucky was used to living with construction workers, and being as smart as she was, she learned quickly that if she stood on her hind legs, and gently patted the leg of her conquest they would be utterly charmed by her understanding of lower back issues and would scratch her tiny head until she had had enough.
A recent visit to the vet to determine whether some recent behavior was due to hearing loss, or a general disinterest in any attempt to get her attention left Lucky utterly stupefied. Our very charming, and handsome, veterinarian understood exactly how to interact with our girl, as she pranced delicately around the office, looking over her shoulder at him, and coyly blinking in his direction. The deafness was due to her advanced age but other than that she seemed totally healthy.
Lucky, despite not hearing a word the doctor said, looked at me pointedly and stated quite clearly (with her eyes obviously, she couldn’t talk) “this guy is a total BABE.” No one can fault her for objectifying the doctor… she wasn’t exactly wrong.
But for all her flirtyness, by the end Lucky was solidly my girl. Often she would sleep under the blankets and curled up against my stomach, or above my head, and I would pet her gently and think about how lucky I was to have her in my life.
This is not a eulogy for David Bowie, but someone wrote something about him today and it really resonated with me. It said something like this:
Humanity is over 40,000 years old, and you were lucky enough to be alive at the same time as David Bowie.
No my friend, I was lucky enough to be alive at the same time as Lucky. And for that I am truly blessed.
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