My Cat Is Dead and My Kids Are Getting Older

My Cat Is Dead and My Kids Are Getting Older


My Cat is Dead and My Kids are getting Older


Koji was killed Tuesday night. I knew something wrong when he didn’t come home. I told Doug about it on Wednesday. He said not to worry. Koji had gone missing before. “Don’t spiral,” he said, which was his go-to statement whenever I brought him my concerns. It throws me off a little. I never thought of myself as a spiraler. But maybe I was a little melodramatic around Doug, because I knew I could be.

Doug is usually right about stuff so I stopped worrying. But then Thursday rolled around and there was still no sign of him. I posted his photo on our neighborhood Facebook group. The photo is a closeup where you can see Koji’s kaleidoscope eyes, the sprinkles of aqua mixed with the standard cat green. He looked annoyed, but that was Koji. Indignant since the day that London found him on the sidewalk. “He just came out of nowhere,” she said. He was so direct and familiar right off the bat, we were sure he belonged to someone. We asked around, but no one claimed him.

Doug was adamant that we find another home for him. “We’re not having a seventh cat.” But cats are smarter than people think. Koji must have sensed Doug’s reluctance because the long-bodied tabby with the strange eyes and crooked feet went to work right away on the man of the house, rubbing against him whenever possible and sitting in his lap at any opportune time. Always following him around the house, always chatting to him. “This is the loudest ass cat,” Doug would say, no longer trying to disguise his affection. Annoyance turned to resignation, then love, and within days, we stopped looking for a new home for Koji and Doug stopped asking if we had found one. If we had, I don’t think Doug would have let him leave.

So Koji became part of the family, taking up shop in the scratching post designed to look like a cactus, hanging out in the garage on the old patio cushions, sleeping wedged in between Doug and me at night, filling up the space left vacant since Sketch died a year earlier, soothing a wound that had never fully healed. The other cats accepted him pretty easily too. Well, except for Morrison, but that was to be expected. The female tortie, who is also (un)affectionately known as the Babadook, the Crazy Bitch, and Demonic Psycho Cat from Hell, had spent the last year terrorizing Finn – the tuxedo we adopted when Sketch died – and smacking around the feral brothers who lived outside under our deck. Koji was just another interloper in a house full of interlopers to add to her shit list. But unlike Finn, Koji didn’t take her aggression sitting down. He gave as good as he got, smacking her across the eyes when she got too close, meeting her growl with one of his own. Witnessing Koji’s bravery gave Finn the confidence to stand up to her too. These days Morrison stays in our bedroom, curled into a little ball of hate on our duvet, only puffing up when one of the boys dared to cross the invisible boundary into her domain.

About an hour after I posted the photo of Koji, a neighbor messaged me. He said his fiancĂ© saw the body of a dead cat in the nature reserve. It had Koji’s markings. My heart sank. “Do you know where in the nature reserve, exactly?” I wrote back, but I didn’t wait for a reply. I threw a bottle of water and some grocery bags into a backpack. Doug was sleeping off his long car ride back from San Antonio and I thought for a moment not to wake him, then figured, he probably wanted to go with me. And he did. He shot right out of bed and slid into his sneakers. It was just after three pm and still triple digits outside but we were on a mission. Maybe the cat that our neighbor had seen was Koji. Maybe it wasn’t. But one thing was for certain, if it was our baby boy, then we were bringing him home.

 We split up just outside of the local artist’s house, at the entrance to the reserve where the trail forks. I went left and Doug went right. I must have scanned every square inch of the reserve, searching for death in a landscape painted in death, a massacre of dried grass and browned plant, casualties of the driest, hottest summer on record. At times I caught the stench of decomposition in the air, but it left as soon it came. I knew from the time that a possum died under our porch, that where bodies laid to rest, flies followed shortly after, but I saw none of those either, and I wished vaguely that I had a dog or the senses of a dog to investigate better. At one point I thought perhaps I had psychic abilities that I didn’t know about, and I closed my eyes and raised my arms and waited for the weight of intuition to carry me in the right direction.

Finally, I called for him. Koji, Koji, Koji. Maybe he was in the reserve, but not as the dead animal my neighbor had seen, but a living thing, stuck up in a tree or hiding in a bush, still frightened but recovering  from a close brush with god-knows-what (probably a coyote).

But what’s that saying? Hope is a violent thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s even crueler to women.

After two hours, we gave up.

After we got home, the neighbor responded. He said his fiancĂ© didn’t remember where she had seen him exactly but she had taken a photo. He sent it to me. It was just a paw sticking out over the dried grass. I imagined there was more to see, but he had cropped it out of mercy. I showed Doug. “Can you compare this with a photo of Koji?” Doug has a million photos of Koji. I wandered away and sat on the couch and pretended to read. After a while, Doug called me back into his office. I walked back there and he looked up from his phone with tears pooling around his eyes. He nodded slowly. I felt my chest caving in. I managed to make it to my bedroom before collapsing into a pile of grief.  

London came home from school and I told her and we cried in her room. We arrived at the same conclusion separately not to tell Kaya, at least not right away, since he was going back to school and we didn’t want to ruin his shining moment. Honestly, we may never tell him, because he may never ask. I make fun of him sometimes, but secretly, I’m jealous of his ability to stay completely and utterly detached. God, how wonderful would it be to care about nothing but myself? Dear Santa, I’ve been a good girl, may I have self-absorption for Christmas? Please and thanks.

Anyway, I didn’t feel like announcing Koji’s death on Facebook or telling anyone. Frankly, I’m tired of my own pity party. Kaya left today, so there’s that. Already posted about it. Already have 80 plus “care” reactions. I don’t feel like pinning an addendum, “oh and by the way my cat was killed.” Welp, everyone look at me. Sad Erin. My cat is dead and my kids are getting older.

Yeah, no thanks.

I didn’t even tell anyone at work either, which means I got to spend the day muted in meetings while sobbing into a cold mug of Earl Gray. Answering any requests that came my way with the enthusiasm of someone who didn’t lose the most beautiful and precious creature on earth. “Erin, can you create this dashboard?” Of course I can, yes sir. Milestones, deliverables, my cat is dead, my cat is dead. The deadline is Tuesday. Koji will have been dead a week by then. God, I hate time. How it ticks on. But let’s talk about dashboards, why the hell not.

Sidenote: I hope whatever attacked Koji chokes on his fucking bones. I know it’s nature and every living thing has to eat but I hope whatever predator (probably a coyote) attacked my baby boy gets rickets from the meat and dies in open grass gasping for breath until its loathsome heart ceases to beat. I hope Koji reincarnates into a buzzard and eats it right back.

Okay, maybe Doug is right. Maybe I am a spiraler.

And maybe I do need to talk about Koji. I need to tell someone what a great a cat he was, what a gift. I don’t want him to be forgotten.

I wish it was you that I was telling this to, but we don’t talk anymore. I don’t know why and I’m done trying to guess. So I’m writing this here, hoping one day you’ll read this and take pity and reach out. Knowing you, you’ll probably drop me a line, pretending like nothing happened. Like these last six months when you became a ghost (why didn’t you wish me a happy birthday?) never happened. I’ll probably never know why you ghosted me in the first place. And I’ll never ask you either. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that I care too much. I miss you and I miss Koji and how can I be 45 years old and still not understand how to appreciate what I have while I have it? Why do I take everything for granted? It’s not like I’m getting any younger. I’m getting older. And I’m dying. Just like everyone else.

Now back to crying and those damn dashboards.

(I love you, Koji. I will never forget you. Thank you for the smiles, the laughter, the tears. I love you, I love you, I love you.)



Powered by Blogger.

Latest Posts