Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

We Named the Monkey ...


We Named the Monkey Shmoo...
Originally uploaded by zhadi.

I posted this photo about a year and a half ago when I first moved up to San Francisco and started blogging as a way to try to sort out and deal with the confusion and depression of leaving Brian and my old life. This is a picture of Brian and Shmoo (originally named Asmodeus, but you know how names change with cats) a few months before I left, with Shmoo on his favorite perch: Brian's shoulder.

Shmoo left us at 5:30 this morning, up in Humboldt with Brian, after a several month struggle with a mysterious condition that gradually took away his ability to move. His neurons weren't firing properly, things weren't connecting the way they should. A spinal tap showed nothing conclusive. Probably diagnosis was cancer in his brain. The vet specialist told Brian that Shmoo wouldn't be able to handle chemo unless his condition improved. It didn't.

For two months Brian gave him fluids, hand fed him, helped him pee, cleaned him up when he pooped, carried him everywhere, gave him enough love and attention for any animal or human. I visited as often as I could, helped with the nursing, sent special cat food that I could buy at half the price as what Brian would have to spend in Humboldt. We were encouraged because Shmoo's appetite was good right up until the last couple of days. We'd heard that as long as a cat had an appetite, they still had the will to live. So we waited and hoped.

Shmoo stopped eating two days ago and Brian was going to call someone to come to the house today if things continued to get worse. Shmoo, however, decided he was going to go on his new journey without any help other than Brian stroking him gently and telling him that his mom and dad loved him, right up to the moment when Shmoo's heart stopped beating and he left with a little sigh.

We called Shmoo our parent trap cat. He turned up as a six month old kitten outside our house a few months before Brian and I were planning on separating over 7 years ago. Unbeknownst to the other, we both fed him on the sly, made friends with this scrawny black feline with a head too big for his body. So did our roommate. Brian and I decided to stay together about the same time Shmoo moved in; I'd picked Brian up at the airport after a three week absence when he was working on RAVENOUS, we came home and there was Shmoo, waiting for us on the front porch. We opened the door, Shmoo marched in and made himself at home.

Shmoo was never happier than when sitting or lying in between the two of us, a front paw touching Brian, his tail draped across my arm. He'd sleep between us, his head on the pillow. Shmoo and Brian both snored.

Brian used to stand him up on his hind legs and make him stalk after me like a zombie while we sang the tune to the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD music. Dah da da.... Dah DA Dah.... One day I sang the tune when Shmoo was across the kitchen. He immediately ran towards me with a funny, stiff-legged gait. Shmoo had found his party trick. Worked every time, no matter where he was in the house. If we wanted to find him, all we had to do was sing that tune.

We almost lost Shmoo a couple of Halloweens ago when our roommate (not the same one who fed him) was moving her stuff out and left the French doors ajar. Shmoo got out that night and we couldn't find him. A black cat out on Halloween? Bad news. We looked for him for hours, plastered the neighborhood with posters the next day, checked the local animal shelters (a heartbreak all by itself) and I kept walking the neighborhood, hoping for the best. I fell asleep on the couch that night, sure that my decision to leave Brian was responsible for Shmoo's disappearance (for a non-Catholic, I'm pretty good at the guilt thing). But Brian heard a noise at the back of the house, went to investigate, and I woke up when he deposited a distinctly filthy Shmoo on my lap.

When I left, Brian kept Shmoo. I knew I'd get to see him, but it was still hard. Hell, it was hard to leave both of them. I'm happy in my new life, but I'm still in mourning for my old one, for the dreams that Brian and I had, for the good times, for the comfort zone of the familiar, and for my friend. A lot of work and emotional effort has gone into keeping that friendship, nurturing the connection that has nothing to do with being married. And I guess to both of us, Shmoo has always been a living symbol of that connection. Losing him hurts with the kind of pain that makes you wonder how you're going to live through it. Kind of like the guilt and pain I feel at having not been there to share his last moments with Brian and help shoulder some of Brian's pain.

I think that Shmoo held on until the holidays were over to help his dad get through the last of a very difficult year. We both had to tell Shmoo that it was okay to let go if he was ready to move on. I had Brian hold the phone up to Shmoo's ear yesterday so I could tell him that it was okay. See, last time I visited, I told him he had to hold on for his daddy, he just had to get better. And I think he really tried.

I don't think that we extended his life to be selfish, but I do know that losing him is symbolic for more than just having to say goodbye to our boy.

I know, I know...that's a hell of a lot of symbolism to put on the head of one little black kitty.

Most importantly, we'll miss him. As Brian always said, he was second only to the pharaoh and the blackest cat in the house. Let's buy him a present. He's perfect.

And he was.

9 Comments:

  • At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    :(

    I'm so sorry, Zhadi.

     
  • At 9:55 PM, Blogger Kempis said…

    Zhadi wrote: He immediately ran towards me with a funny, stiff-legged gait.

    I remember when I first saw him I wanted to call him "Chaplin" because of that waddle of his. Plus He was the only cat that mine didn't hate.

    I will always have good memories of him, and not because I wasn't around to experience the serious spell of urinary marking he went through (and I'm smiling as I remember a few of the early occurrences). It was all part of what made him such a character.

    Gone but never forgotten.

     
  • At 9:34 AM, Blogger zhadi said…

    thanks, M.S...

    And Kempis, thank you so much for those memories...he was the best.

     
  • At 9:40 AM, Blogger Other Lisa said…

    I'm so sorry.

    Lovely post about a wonderful little guy - and lots of complicated emotions. It must not have been easy to write.

     
  • At 12:15 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    It wasn't easy to write, but I can't keep not writing because things are difficult to write about. Which is what I've been doing for the last few months. Or last year, really. I suspect that it's behind a lot of my stomach troubles...

     
  • At 12:51 PM, Blogger Mr. Fabulous said…

    I know the last couple of months have been tough. But I also don't know of many kitties that have been shown as much love as you guys showed Shmoo.

    I'm sorry.

     
  • At 1:29 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    Thanks, Mr. F... I just wish that he'd stayed around a few more years for more love.

     
  • At 4:28 PM, Blogger Abyss of Silence said…

    I'm so sorry.

     
  • At 9:27 AM, Blogger zhadi said…

    Thanks, J...

     

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