A suitcase of memories.


Mau was an odd cat.  I’ve always found him a bit difficult to describe to those that haven’t met him, but I loved the way everyone who had met him would try to pitch in to the description.  “He’s a total punk, but … a gentleman.”  “Think, a very small greek man.”  “Or Humphrey Bogart.”  “A lawless rogue in a tux.”  “I’m pretty sure he’s a spy.”

Everyone had their own nickname, their own variation on his name.  “Max,” “El Mau,” “The Chairman,” “Maximus,” “El Presidente,” “Mau-mau chicka mau-mau.”

I’m sure every pet is special to their owner, but it’s warmed my heart to know that he wasn’t just special to me.  And he was everything everyone said he was.  He was a punk.  He demanded to be heard and treated as an equal.  He was protective, like a dog.  It might sound funny to say I felt safe with my cat, but I did.  He’d lick tears off my cheeks, he’d wake me if he smelled smoke, or if anything felt wrong.  He’d come by every night when I went to bed, to sit on my chest for a little while and say goodnight.  He looked out for me, he clearly felt I was his responsibility, and I tried every day to make sure he knew I’d do the same for him.  I didn’t own him.  We were friends.  We were family.

The day came on Monday when doing the right thing for him was to let him pass peacefully.  The tumor had grown so that eating was now a messy struggle, and as his weight began to drop with his energy level, I know I’d be letting him starve, or suffocate, if I didn’t intervene.  It was a choice between the unthinkable and the even more unthinkable.

We took a last nap together, and I told him everything.  I told him what his friendship had always meant to me.  I told him I was so, so sorry medicine couldn’t do anything more for him.  I told him I’d always thought he’d die at age 98, of spontaneous combustion.  I asked him to trust me in what I was about to do.

I held him in the vet’s office, wrapped up in a blanket, and cuddled him close.  Mau hates that office, hates being wrapped in blankets, and has never been much of a purrer anyway, so when he started purring, I knew he was trying to comfort me.  I sobbed into the fur on the top of his head, and as he slipped away I whispered, “Thanks for being my friend.”  His head dropped onto my arm.

We buried him under a tree in Jesse’s yard.  I’d dreaded the moment of putting him in the cold and dark, but having watched him die actually made it easier.  He wasn’t in that fuzzy little body anymore, I’d watched him go.

I’m not sure whether there is an afterlife or not, but then I think about the day I found Mau, by chance, in a strange city.  And the thought that two little souls could find each other, exactly what the other needed, it’s almost enough to make me believe there’s some cosmic power working for our good.  And certainly enough to make me believe I possess a strange and wonderful luck.  That hope, with his little purr, is the part of him I’ll carry forever.


19 responses »

  1. I have never cried so much in reading a blog. I fail in general with words, but even if I was good with them I would have no words to say how very sad I am that Mau is gone and you had to go through all of this. You are the best kitty mama ever and this is the most beautiful way I’ve ever seen a loved pet go. love you i said.

  2. I know you said you had a difficult time explaning Mau to people who had not met him but I think you did a pretty damn good job doing just that. I know there is a huge difference between meeting a cat and knowing a cat through his owner but with the combination of your always loving words about Mau, his pictures, where is personality always shined through, and the stories you shared with the internet about him, I literally felt like I knew Mau. I know some of this has to do with being a cat lover myself and with him and Maisey sharing the same breed, and how they were both the cats that no one wanted out of their litter, which made me feel even more connected to Mau, but I always had a soft spot in my heart for him. It seemed weird to care so much about a cat you didn’t really know but there was really just something about Mau. I’ll miss hearing his stories and begging you for more pictures but I am happy that he is painfree and having big adventures somewhere. He had the best life any cat could hope to have and the best friend in you. I am so sorry he is gone but I am more thankful that he was here. Love you Veaj. Now I have to go fix my damn make-up because you really know how to write about those you love.

  3. Mau was awesome, and so are you. Your strength and character are beautiful and I am sure that Mau is very busy in the kitty afterworld bragging about his incredible human. Not every kitty has such a kitty-mama as you.

    Seems lately there’s been a lot of loss around people I care about. I can feel my heart scaring. Those scars will serve as a constant reminder of those who’ve left us behind. They are bittersweet.

    Gotta close now and move away from the keyboard before my tears short things out entirely.


  4. I spent two hours last night weeping through The Road, and thought I was out of tears. I wasn’t. I’m so very sorry for your loss. You’re making it difficult for me to leave Echo overnight to attend our annual holiday girly slumber party.

    Again, I’m so sorry for your loss and hope that you’ll find him again someday.

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