A bear walks into a bar, and puts a dollar in the jar.
"Kahlúa and cream, Mike." It's not his usual genever, but he's not
the first bear to order that drink this week. He takes it to the
chalk line and stands for a while, sipping the drink and fingering
something in his pocket. Finally, he raises the glass.
"To Curio!", he says, and flings the glass into the fireplace.
He was always my cat, ever since he walked up to me in the
shelter two years ago and said so. My sister had to translate for him --
I wasn't very fluent in feline at the time.
He was the most outgoing and easygoing of our cats, always willing to
accept attention from anybody, but I'm the one he followed around, and
asked to be picked up and carried by. He spent a lot of time on Colleen's
lap, too, and when he started getting picky about food, she would empty a
can of catfood into a small bowl and make sure he ate it.
At night I would pat the laundry hamper in the hallway and say "Up", and
he would jump up for me to carry upstairs to bed, though he often leapt
out of my arms and ran up the stairs ahead of me. Most nights he slept on
I made a pad of folded leopard-print, fuzzy fabric and set it on my desk
so that he could lie or sit there and be petted while I worked on the
computer. He made an excellent villain's cat. He liked high
places; I once found him on the highest shelf in our bathroom, afraid to
come down. Perhaps he knew I'd come rescue him.
Maybe a month ago he started eating less, and became more solitary. His
breathing became labored. His last two weeks I would often come home to
find that he'd spent all day in our closet, or on the cool tiles of the
shower stall. I would carry him to Colleen, but he would only pick at his
food. His last week, he was completely miserable; we made the earliest
appointment we could. It was barely soon enough.
( you may want to skip this part. Wish I could have. )
Somewhere in there, Naomi reminded me that cats live in the moment, and we
had done the best we could to make his last moments good ones, surrounded
by the people he loved.
And he had one last gift for me: he taught me to cry again. Long ago, I
forgot how. Thank you, Curio, for giving me back my tears.
The bear sits back down, and puts a tattered red collar on the table in
front of him.
In the end, he walked across the Rainbow Bridge calmly, eyes open and
tail held high. In Valhalla, he's finally able to go outside, get wasted
on catnip, and sleep on the grass in the sunlight. In the evening he
walks across the tables -- he was never a lap cat except for Colleen --
and begs for scraps from the feasting warriors. He's especially fond of
Sometimes, late at night, he'll go visiting. There's a petrified
forest where it's always twilight, and a glade where stands an Amethyst
Rose with obsidian thorns as sharp as Curio's claws. Sometimes Bast goes
with him. Bast willing, I'll see them again some day.