Note: If you are suffering from grief, this show and post are for you. I hope it helps you find peace and frees you from your pain. Much love, JER.
May 17th, 2002…a Friday night…
I was so excited to get home that night. Single and ready to mingle, got some yummy (albeit, naughty) grub in the back seat, gonna get to my swingin’ Hermosa Beach bachelor pad for some movies, maybe call that girl who gave me her number, I dunno, and….
Two silly British tourists took an illegal lefthand turn and slammed right into me. Not only did they ruin my night, they ended up suing my insurance company, claiming it was my fault. Of course, my insurance company laughed and all ended well, but boy was I pissed that night, a Friday night. I was gonna eat naughty food but it spoiled. LAME.
And if I could find them today, I’d buy them drinks for life. Okay, maybe just a few rounds, but certainly I’d thank them, even though they (or their insurance company) actually….no I don’t care. Without that mistake, no Chloe.
The next morning, I woke up in a bad mood. I went for a walk and walked past Petco. My family cat Oliver (Your uncle Oliver? Dunno) had just passed away two months prior (my late mother and I had a laugh when, through her tears, she exclaimed, “He was just too fat!”), and I thought, “Oh, what the heck, just go in and look at the kittens, cheer yourself up! No big deal! What the worst that can happen?”
So I walked in and headed to the back, where the wonderful organization, “People and Cats Living Together,” was holding cat adoptions. I entered, said hello to the lady (Sweet Lady, as I shall refer to her) running the joint, and had a look around. I came across two cages in particular; one with a Mama kitty named Samantha, and next to it, a cage with her babies. At first, it just looked like one big ball of fur, but upon closer inspection, it was 8 kittens having a nap&snuggle.
And then one little head popped out.
That’s when you spoke your first words to me, “………….meow?”
“Oh no, no you don’t,” I replied, but Sweet Lady AND you both ignored me. Sweet lady opened the cage while you crawled out of the pile hell bent on getting to her future papa.
“You wanna hold her?” Sweet Lady said.
“No, no no no no no,” I said, and Sweet Lady ignored me and handed you to me. I felt your little heart racing as you put your head on my shoulder and went to sleep.
“Oh, no no no no no no no no no…oh no…oh no,” I said.
“Oh yes,” both you and Sweet Lady replied.
That was it. Sweet Lady put a little red bow around your neck (to show that you had found your human) and then took me around Petco to chose supplies. Litter box, litter, bowls, toys, food, ect.
“This is at least a 15 year commitment, you know,” Sweet Lady said to me.
I looked at you, and you looked up at me and nuzzled your head in my neck, “You promise?”
Then we went home, little 8-week old you in a cardboard kitty carrier (your officially kitty-carrier from Grandma Laurie would come later). I took you into your first home, set the box on my bed and took a step back.
Did I just adopt a cat?
I stepped forward and opened the box.
Out you jumped and ran right under the bed. Where you stayed. All day. And night.
I called my mother, who at the time was fighting a losing battle with ALS, and said, “Hey Ma…guess what? I got a little roommate.”
“YOU GOT A KITTY! YAY!!!!!”
That felt good.
The next morning, I woke up, and you were nowhere to be found. I looked and looked… no dice. How did you…did you….wait….where is the one place I didn’t look?
That’s right, my sock drawer. While I was sawing logs that first night in your forever home, you decided to CRAWL UP MY DRESSER AND TAKE A SNOOZE IN THE FRIGGIN’ SOCK DRAWER. Sock sock sock sock kitty sock sock sock.
I was impressed. Golf clap, Chlo.
Gradually, you warmed up to me, and before I knew it, I could not sit down without you, Mrs Bigglesworth, taking your rightful spot. The first time I spent the night away from your lair, the next morning, you came running in from the bedroom YELLING, “WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU?”
That’s cats for you.
7 months later, I took you home with me for Christmas. Why? Oliver, bless his heart, used to love to open presents under the tree. That was his tradition. Chew chew chew. He last did that in December of 2001. Now it was December 2002. My mother says to me, “Jordan, I just want you know how much I appreciate having a kitty home for XMAS.” She points under the tree, and there is you, picking up the baton from Oliver, chewing on presents.
From that moment on, you were duh Chlo. It wasn’t always easy, what with living 3000 miles away from the people who cared for me the most, and all I had was my cat, and my friends. I dated, I brought girlfriends home. Some were friendly, some were not. Indeed, one thing I learned is that I needed to find an, “off,” switch to the kitty talk. I also was certain to put, “I HAVE A CAT,” on my dating profiles to weed out the ladies who were allergic. I was told on more than one occasion that you brought out my tender side.
And as you grew, so did I. I went from wanna-be screenwriter, to bartender and business school student, to cigar seller, podcaster, and back to writer. I found the love of my life and got a dog (Chewbacca!). I found my forever home, friends for life. I matured, made peace with some many elements of my past and figured out where I want to go, and how I want to continue growing (kindness, help others, never give up).
And all the while, you, Madame Bigglesworth yourself, were right by my side.You even ended up on the wonderful, “My Cat From Hell.” For the record, folks, Jackson Galaxy is the real deal. He is every bit as sweet as he appears on camera. Him and his crew were lovely and it was a great experience.
One thing I forgot to mention.
That same Christmas in 2002, I walked into the living room where you were purring in your grandma’s lap. My mother was unable to walk at that point due to ALS progressing (suck it, ALS), but she petted you, saying, “Please take care of my little boy for me.”
All this time, I had it wrong. All this time, I thought you were my baby.
Nope. I was YOUR baby. I hadn’t been taking care of you all these years, you have been taking care of me.
You were diagnosed with cancer a year ago. No wait, OVER a year ago. October, 2017. My wife was 7 months in with our son Jack, and the oncologist gave you a month without treatment, maybe two. We decided to do light treatment to go after the tumor on your tail, and the oncologist gave you 6 to 9 months at most. I just wanted you to meet Jack, and pass the baton, just like my mother once passed the baton to you.
As you can see, mission accomplished. Baton passed.
And we’ve been playing with house money for over a year. Every day was a gift.
Every moment was cherished. That was the final lesson you taught me. You saved the best for last.
Every day above ground is a gift that should never be taken for granted.
The tumor on your tail grew, one showed up in your mouth, they both grew and grew, and last week, when we realized that you could no longer swallow food, it was time.
I had to do the right thing. I had to be in the room when the time came. I would not be a coward, and I would set an example for Jack. Just as my late father, 31 years ago, took our dog Columbo to the vet for his final ride, so too should I do the same for you.
We spent last Tuesday together doing what we always loved to do; watch movies together. “Up,” (best film of all time), “Steve Jobs,” (underrated and wonderful), and finally, the last film, “The Shining.” Why that one? Because we felt like it! It’s Kubrick at his creepiest! Amazing picture! You purred during the scary parts. Of course you did.
After the 3rd picture, a few glasses of scotch, pile of Chinese food and a cheesesteak, I passed out on the couch with you on my chest. Woke up 3 hours later at 1:30am. I knew this was going to be our final snuggle, and said to myself, “Sleep, stay away, no matter, whatever happens, happens.”
I stayed awake as we cuddled and while I have no memory of what I said, I know how I felt; feeling peace as you gave me courage to do the right thing.
The right thing by you.
The right thing. To end your suffering.
The sun came up and I was still scared, but remembered Rudyard Kiplings, “If.”
Do the right thing by you, and I’d evolve.
I gathered you into your kitty carrier, as Jack and Chewbacca said goodbye.
And off we went to the vet. Your final ride.
Once we got to the room, our wonderful vet took you to the back while I recited, “If,” followed by the Lord’s Prayer. Then the Vet brought you back with the IV in your arm, saying, “She took a slash at one of our techs.” That’s my girl! A fighter until the end.
As the final injections went in, “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” came tumbling out. As the light left your eyes, though tears streamed down mine and the SNGal’s faces, your courage gave us love.
Then you were gone.
I kissed your head, said, “God bless you, I love you, thank you for everything, my queen.”
And your spirit began its forever watch over my family.
Thank you, Chloe, for everything.
Thank you for being there for me, my furry little family member, when I had no family out here.
Thank you for teaching me that the world does not run on my feelings.
Thank you for the endless purring, meows, hisses (yes hisses!) cuddles, and love.
Thank you for your kindness to the ladies I dated that liked you, and for ignoring the ones who weren’t so kind.
Thank you for helping to show me that Julie was, and is, the love of my life. All the pictures of the two of you napping together was enough of a hint. Like this one:
Goodbye, my queen. I will never forget you.
Your Baby Boy, Jordan