I found you last week Monday and wanted to keep you immediately. The time wasn’t right. The time would never be right, but it was the beginning of pitch week and I didn’t have time to think of a new kitten. A classmate and I took you to the shelter where I claimed first rights before I even knew if you were a he or a she.
By the next day I had decided on a name. Patrick Jane*, and I would be allowed to pick you up on Saturday morning assuming no one had come to claim you. And who would come to claim a pretty clearly stray kitten who was only 8 weeks old. No one, that’s who. Well. Me.
Never mind the permission discussion for now, since in the end… well just never mind it. You were scared of me at first. Skiddish. You would run away every time I came near. You spent most of Saturday hiding behind the toilet where you would stare at me whenever I went in there. There was hissing.
Things were pretty calm for the beginning of the week. You slowly warmed up to me and allowed me near you sometimes. Sunday was calmer. We hung out most of the day and when I went to church in the evening I came back with cat milk. Please eat something, I begged you.
On Tuesday morning we went to the vet. He said you were healthy. He said you were fine. He said what I knew and what everyone else had been saying which was that you needed to gain weight. You needed to eat. The doctor showed me how to force feed you, and I left.
After dropping you off I went to a meeting. I came back to finish some research, having my mini-crisis of the day partly because I had forgotten to eat. Everything is more dramatic and heightened when there hasn’t been food in a too many hours. I can’t imagine a better example of this fact than Tuesday night.
Before I went to bed I found you. It was nearly eleven when I reached behind the toilet where you had been holed up since I left. You were like a dead weight in my hand. I could feel each rib and it felt like I was going to crack them just from holding you. I could hear you trying to breathe. I knew immediately that something was horribly wrong.
Three phone calls later and we were on our way to the animal hospital. You had never let me hold onto you for so long without putting up a fight. You stared at me with eyes glazed over as I prayed. Baby, baby, don’t leave me already. Please don’t leave me. Everything will be okay. I was lying to myself.
When we got to the hospital they took you directly. I was shuffled into a side room where I tried desperately to control my gasping sobs. I remember everything. Forgetting my phone in the car and discovering that my lights were still on. The doctor waiting for me when I came back inside. $700-1000. I knew what the answer would be, but I had to call anyway. There was nothing else I could have done.
After I said my good-byes I was left to myself. I don’t know how long I was there, but by the time I left I had heard two other groups come in with their pets. As I was leaving a got a message from a friend I had texted. “Yeah, I’m awake, what’s going on?” I drove directly to her apartment.
When I got home with a plate of cupcakes and a tension headache all the spaces left were 8am street cleaning spaces. I crawled into bed and set four alarms. Tomorrow would be better. Tomorrow would be better, because it couldn’t possibly get any worse.
And it did. Tomorrow was better. Tomorrow was emptier, but also busy. And even with seeing so many friends I still felt the loss in the small spaces. Waiting for people to arrive. Coming home to an empty apartment that smelled equal parts kitten and dirty dishes. While watching TV I though I heard you kneading the rug.
I still don’t know what it means. How this will work. What will happen next. I don’t want another kitten. This was it. I did what I could and I just have to hope that it was enough. I will never forget him. My Patrick Jane. Thank you for being a part of my life. Dear baby, I will meet you again someday. Someday. Someday.
*A friend of mine names kittens after TV characters, and I simply had to follow suit. Patrick Jane is from The Mentalist. Both the character and the kitten are/were blonde loners.