Our cat Mookie died yesterday.
She had probably died a couple of days before, but we just found her body yesterday. She disappeared on Monday night and we'd spent the past couple of days calling hospitals, putting up flyers and visiting the local animal shelter. When she hadn't come home by Wednesday morning, we decided to go door-to-door, and that's when, on our very first stop, an elderly neighbor stunned us by saying that her housekeeper had found a dead cat in their yard that very morning.
I knew immediately it was Mookie they had found. And when our neighbor pointed to the trash can waiting in front of her house, the one that hadn't been picked up that morning because the Labor Day holiday had caused a shift in our trash pickup schedule, I wanted to be doing anything, anything but walking with Kira and Kiyomi towards that big, black receptacle to confirm what I already knew to be true.
Mookie found us sixteen years ago. I was working in my studio downtown when one of my employees, who had just left for the night, came back in carrying a lump of black and white fur cupped in her hands that she had found behind the tire of a truck parked on the street. She was tiny, probably only a day old, and hadn't even opened her eyes yet. I took her to the vet the next day, who told me that the chances were slim of a kitten this young surviving more than a few days without her mother. I took her home and fed her with an eyedropper and named her Mookie, after Spike Lee's character in Do The Right Thing. She thanked me for saving her life by becoming the orneriest, most temperamental, unpredictable cat in feline history.
She was the cutest little thing, though. So tiny she could sleep in a shoe box and her litter box was a pie pan. (Those that know me are wracking their brains right now, trying to remember, "Did she ever bake me a pie, or maybe bring over a quiche during 1990? And, oh gawd - was that kitty litter at the bottom of that apple crisp?") Rigel and I had just moved in together, so of course he thought it was a grand plot of mine to find out if he was good father material, not believing the whole "I found her in the street!" story for even a minute. She rewarded him for his bad faith by giving him a big, deep scratch right above his eye three years later on the night before our wedding.
Mookie was an equal-opportunity offender, scratching everyone from family members to the kind passerby who only wanted to pet the nice kitty. I remember one friend of mine, a bona fide Cat Person and Friend of All Animals, telling me that she 'understood Mookie' and would be the one to escape the wrath of our psycho-cat's claws. On her way out, as I applied a large bandage to the deep, bloody flesh wound on her arm, she said to me, "That cat? Is fuckin' crazy."
I was always careful to keep her far away from the girls when they were small, but she seemed to mellow with age, and in the past few years seemed to revel in the attention they showered on her. But you always have to wonder what kind of beast you have on your hands when you overhear them saying to others, in an incredulos tone, "And the other day? She actually let me pet her!!"
We're all sad, as you can imagine. This is hitting them much harder than the passing of Little Guppy. Kira has been bursting into tears spontaneously over the past few days, and Kiyomi tries to hold out as long as possible by saying, "I am NOT GOING TO CRY" but then melts into a sobbing ball in my lap. We're going to miss her brushing up against our legs when we're sitting on the patio, and scratching on the back door when she wants to be fed or let in. It'll be sad not to see her run out to meet us when we come home, and then dart around our feet, causing at least one of us to trip over her and curse. Most of all, we'll just miss her being here, as she had been for the past sixteen years, glaring at us when she tired of us stroking her back and taking an angry swipe at us when we didn't get the message and stop already.
Kiyomi said to me last night, "Mookie is in Catnip Heaven now" and Kira drew this picture of her:
It's too bad you died
I'm glad we had you as a pet, though!
You rock, Mookie!
Hope you're doing good!
Goodbye, Mookie. We love you. You rock.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Our cat Mookie died yesterday.