At the end of this post, I'll include the poem (the dirge?) I wrote and read to him before the vet came in with the needles; before I held him for one last, infinite snuggle; exactly as in the poem--held against my heart as his stopped beating; as he left me, forever.
I had Marcel for almost 16yrs; over half my life. He's been my companion, my little buddy, my bigguy for so long...it's hard to think of him not being there, somewhere, either curled up like a dozey little dork or out claiming his territory with a genially imperious posture. But what I came home to today: A home without Marcel, a life without Marcel.
|Marcel prefers to read for me.|
But he is gone now. His chapter in my life is over. I know I did the right thing--sparing him the discomfort, the pain, the bitter end of clinging too hard for too long against the inevitable passing on. I let that happen to Cali, and it was awful. I couldn't let that happen to Marcel, no matter how badly I wanted to hold on to him. It was time to let him go, and it was right. I kept his collar; it's currently resting in my pocket--a little, familiar, barely tolerable jingle when I move about.
Now comes the hard part: The missing. Those hard moments when I think I see him out of the corner of my eye, only to remember half a moment later. Those usual habits and expectations--seeing his food bowl and mat gone, no longer having to navigate past his litter box. Never seeing him curled up on my bed and never again my heart warming on seeing it. No more squawks or snuggles or silly things. No more bigguy; no more Marcel.
A couple months ago, things changed. He wasn't eating right; he wasn't coming up for snuggles; he was throwing up now and then. I realized he was losing weight fast, so I added wet food to his diet; he ate it voraciously, and gained back some weight. But things only improved marginally, and not for long. Although he was eating, soon he was pooping and urinating outside his box. I changed the litter box set up to some effect; it helped but didnt fix it. He wasn't moving well; he'd confine himself to small areas--an armchair, a door mat, a corner of the kitchen, the porch.
This was not my Marcel.
|This, on the other hand, is my Marcel.|
It wasn't good.
Marcel was always a trooper. Calm and stoical, he ruled the neighborhood--overpowering other cats with a long, hard, but nonchalant stare. He knew who he was. If he wasn't staring down other cats, he was sleeping on top of people's cars, carefree and comfortable. If he wasn't sleeping, he was hunting; he was a beast at that: My mom tells a tale of his hauling a baby rabbit around with no trouble; he once brought me a squirrel.
|A wild Marcel appears!|
He'd sometimes come running if he saw me or walk me home at a amiable gait. He'd follow me upstairs and jump on the bed for a scratch behind the ears; and who could say no, regardless of their hurry?
He couldn't meow. Sure, occasionally he could get out some lower tone if he tried, but 9 times out of 10 all he managed was a pinched off kind of squawk. He had a dot on each cheek. He remind us of a mime, of Marcel Marceau. So that's what we called him.
A month or so ago, he stopped even coming upstairs. If he went out, more and more he'd just curl up on the porch. This cat, Marcel, the king of snuggle buddies, wasn't snuggling any more.
And then last night I knew why--then I saw why. There on the ultrasound screen, plain as day, were one or two, maybe even three, huge masses. They were already taking up a third of his abdomen, but the vet estimated from their coarseness they'd only begun developing between 6 and 8 weeks ago. They were too extensive and aggressive to remove and unlikely to respond to treatment. Marcel had maybe a week or two before they seriously impeded his organs. At best, he wouldn't even be with us a month from now.
|On a different visit to the vet.|
That's Marcel for you. Even as the vet informs me the dire prognosis; even as these malignancies were killing him from the inside out; even as I choke back tears, choke on the words, "So what do we do know?", knowing too, too well the answer; there he was, having a casually grand time.
That was my Marcel. And, goddamnit, I miss him.
Here is the poem I worked on the same morning. It was tough at first finding what to say to him that would encapsulate everything he meant to me. I wrote a similar poem (and a similar post) for another cat we put down, Cali. As anticipated, I could get through the whole thing--too many tears, too little breath, among the sobs. I've italicized the omitted portions..