Monday, May 10, 2010

He Was A Jerk

Nobody ever says, "He was a jerk" after someone dies.  Or if they do, they are usually put in their place by some kind, church-going type.
We are here today to talk about Bailey, who died at the age of 12, in my arms, under the care of a veterinarian.
He was a jerk.
When I say "He was a jerk", I mean, he was classic cat, Talk To The Butt, Don't talk to me, or even look at me unless it is my idea, and for God's sake do NOT pick me up, ever.  With him, you had the distinct impression that he hated everyone.  Even on days when he decided that he would like to have his ears or face rubbed, he would find you, force himself upon you, use you for his purposes, then, when you wanted to cuddle after, he'd get all pissy and squirm away.
Bailey was openly angry toward his younger brother Jack, every day for the last six years.  Some might say that Jack is such a dope that even the most tolerant would have problems being his only playmate, and that's not entirely untrue.  While I always think of Jack's "Special" status as more of a purely innocent, doesn't-know-he's-dumb sort of thing, Bailey had nothing even remotely resembling patience for that animal.  We half expected that one day, Bailey would kill Jack in his sleep.
In fact, we all lived under the threat of Bailey killing us in our sleep.  He was just that kind of guy.  Only very rarely did he ever look at anyone with anything other than the look that said, "I f*cking hate you" and/or "I'm going to kill you."  Seriously.  He had a death look.  If you were waving cooked chicken, or even better, cooked ham (his all time favorite thing to eat) he wouldn't look interested so much as he'd convey that if you didn't give him some, he was going to scratch your face off.  If you were holding some of it in your hand, he would reach up, claws outstretched, and grab your hand with the full force he could muster to puncture your skin, so that you would drop the food.  Then in one swift movement, he'd let go of you and use the same paw to smack his brother across the face for even thinking that the ham on the floor was for anyone other than Lord Voldemort, uh, I mean Bailey.
Today, even in the throws of real agony, he never let his guard down, never let me see him sweat, so to speak. He could barely walk, but still he looked at me with the gaze that said "What the f*ck are you looking at?" He didn't once allow me to believe that those 12 years of wringing my hands over him--for all the times he escaped from the house, and any time he was under the weather--meant a thing to him at all.  

Before we left for the vet, I picked up his failing body and wrapped him in a blanket my daughter had made for him three years ago--he had no strength, but still he tried to squirm away--it was his instinct to keep his distance.

But it didn't matter.  We still got close--as close as he would allow.  I was surprised at my tears.  I'm still surprised as I sit here in the parking lot of the vet, crying.  And I want to tell him that holding him while he died was the shittiest thing I have ever had to do, and I may never forgive him for being such a fucking jerk about everything, right to the end.

In time, my emotions will mellow, and I will stop wondering if I did the right thing, even though I will never really know for sure.  Some other charming fuzzball will arrive on the scene, and Jack will be thrust into the unlikely roll of "boss by default" and the household will again become a light-hearted comedy in which we all laugh at silly ideas like the notion that your cat is going to kill you in your sleep.  Our house is made for laughter, which is why we laughed instead of cried when Bailey grabbed our hand to get food.  That audacity.  That brilliant "Fuck you ALL, because it's all about ME" attitude that he had.  I miss it already.  

Goodbye to you, Bailey--the most complicated of cats.  I'm sure you're up in heaven right now, congratulating yourself on my tears.  You're such a jerk.

-- Sent from my Palm Pixi


  1. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh Shelly!

    I am crying reading this. So sorry to read this!!

  2. Aw, Shel. I hate reading these kind of posts. I'm really sorry. This news sucks. :(

  3. As the owner of a similar jerk (although thankfully front declawed) I dread a similar day. My thoughts are with you & the girls because this fucking sucks man.

  4. I had a cat like yours too. We still laugh about how he stalked house guests. One catsitter would only come in the house wearing sunglasses and carrying a water gun. Good times.

    Thinking of you...


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