It costs money to die. They make sure you settle the bill before they’ll come near you with needles.
But I’m only being unkind because the whole business of living is such a remarkable sham. That’s what it is, a business. Our life is a series of transactions. And we give it meaning because we contain the extraordinary gift to do so. But every move we make is charged something to someone and ultimately it costs money to die.
None of that is what I really want to say, nor what one might expect from a person who had to put down their cat. I’m focusing on the inane things I can spew venom at because right now it feels better than serving platitudes on a paper plate. What could I say? That she was a wonderful cat? That she learned to play fetch from the dog she probably thought was her mom and learned to talk back from the human she probably thought was also her mom? That she would pound on the window when a bird passed and follow you into the bathroom? That when I was slumped over from illness or misery, she would drape her body over mine and soothe me with her steady purrs? That she would tear through the house making little roars that no one ever heard but me?
Or that I feel tremendous guilt for the last nine months of her life? That even though she lived in a beautiful home with wonderful people it wasn’t with me because I had to make that call? That when she lit up in the exam room when I came in it made me feel like she’d been waiting for me to come home? That the fact that she was apparently genetically predispositioned to die young fills me with abject hopelessness?
Or maybe that the corners of my home that once entertained her absence now champion it? That the evening light means something different and the spaces she used to occupy look menacing? That the entire landscape of my world now feels different because I sat next to her when she took her last ragged breath and I know more won’t come?
A sham. The truth is that she was remarkable, and unique. Beautiful and sweet. Once in a lifetime and now never again. I don’t know how to tell you any of those things with any more feeling because I’m afraid that this is all I know of them now. I’m afraid that in the days that will come, these things will come to demand their penance. I am afraid that I’ve been dealt another uphill hand towards a day in which the absolute mockery of this situation doesn’t jeer in my face.
The entire business of living is a sham because it is so disproportionately, laughably, unfalteringly cruel. You get a long awaited job offer on the day your cat dies. Your tendon tear heals and you get salmonella. The things you love leave you behind and you adopt the responsibility of making something out of the absolute desolation of that fact. I am 28 years old and I will spend the rest of my life without you. You were 7, two and a half hours ago, robbed of 10 good years. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that?
How can I possibly be expected to sift through 7 years and a thousand questions that still remain? Where do I begin to make some sense of what the world has lost in a meaningful way? How will I ever be able to bear the thought without the remorse and bitterness it left?
An impossible situation, some will say. But I saw everything that was possible. And at every turn I did the best that I could, with some room for error. I saw everything that was possible and I can’t say I’d change a thing. It was all possible. It was just all a remarkable sham.