The last 10 months have been filled with uncertainty, changed lives and sorrow. When I was grieving for the one life lost that was one death too many, life went ahead and dealt our family three more. Somber celebrations were had, full of family sharing stories, meals and even a laugh or two through tears. We all grieved in different ways for the loved ones we lost. My mother for her brother who loved food and life. My sister for her friend who had a beautiful smile and a brave soul. And then, there is me...to the little friends who depended on me to take care of them but instead, gave me a richer life than I could ever have given them.
The day I went to the pet shelter and saw that friendly orange cat, Pumpkin, I loved him. Even though he was going to my brother's and sister-in-law's to live, I immediately became attached. He turned out to be even more awesome than I could have imagined. He was the smart cat. He was the one I found using the toilet one morning because access to his litter box was inadvertently denied. I found him precariously perched there - taking matters in his own paws to do what he needed to do. His visits with me always ended in fights after days of cuddling. And his personality was very dog like, which is why I probably loved him so much.
My relationship with my other cat Jazzy was initially, vastly different. Jazzy was as catty as cats could get. My sister-in-law picked her out at the shelter, and Jazzy only had love for her. She was very aloof and hostile towards everyone else. Thus, the rest of the family ignored her for the most part. She didn't love lots of attention and never really bestowed any upon anyone else. That is, until 2007 when my nephew became highly allergic to the cats and they came to live with me. During that time, Jazzy became affectionate. She genuinely grew to love me in the past few years, and I her.
Summers went by with a cat or two hanging out in the side window. Winters came and brought lots of cuddling and warmth, with Pumpkin sleeping on my head, and Jazzy at my feet. Pumpkin would get into the presents by lying on the wrapping paper as I tried to wrap at Christmas time. Jazzy would sit quietly on the couch and give the stink eye to my sister whenever she came into the house. For years, the days and nights went by with a routine - one cat in my lap, and one behind my head - as I sat on the couch playing video games, doing a headcount with Jack Bauer, and having a secret love affair with the USA Network.
In the countless hours I spent over the years exploring colourful JRPG worlds, my little cat companions explored right along with me. They watched my crazy flailing about as I repeatedly lost to Ghirahim in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. They watched me climb the ranks of the UAA one long weekend. They saw me excitedly set up my Wii U. They got involved when I disconnected my PS3 to box it up and send it for repairs after Final Fantasy XIII broke my 80gb. They probably heard me utter a curse or two in frustration when I couldn't figure things out. They sat patiently while I fought easy and difficult boss battles.
As dull as any of those moments were to them, those two were always there: playing my biggest supporters by nonchalantly participating. They kept me company, not because they cared whether or not I was winning or losing. They kept me company because they loved me. Probably too because they were waiting for that moment to be fed and the closer they were to me and the food, the better for them. But that's not the point - the point was, they were there sharing in everything I did. My interesting video games lives were experienced while in the company of my cats in my uninteresting regular life. I felt comforted knowing they were there. I felt comforted knowing that when I shut off the consoles and left the extraordinary behind, I'd have these two little extraordinary characters in my cats to play with. Fun and games were never far behind with those two around. I felt at ease.
Last September on Labor Day after I took Pumpkin to the emergency room, I was not prepared for how devastating it would feel to walk into a house without him. For weeks, I couldn't sit on the couch knowing that there would be no cat to push his way into my lap while I played my next adventure. He was not there to set up my PS4 when I got it in November. It was the first console boxing he had missed since bringing home my new PS3. He was also not there when I met the Lhants in Tales of Graces F, nor did he get to see me make sea bream porridge. Christmas passed without his nosing his way into our annual wrapping of presents.
Here is my boy sitting on the Hong Kong newspaper my Crisis Core PSP came wrapped up in
Two Saturdays ago after I took Jazzy to the vet, I was not prepared for how terrible it would feel to put the key in the door knowing she would not be on the other side looking out. For the past few mornings, I've come out of my room fully expecting to hear meowing. In the coming months, I will probably turn on the PS4 to play Watch Dogs and she won't be there to perk her ears up at the would-be gunfire. She won't be there to hear me laughing at Tomodachi Life. She won't be there to put an apprehensive paw on my lap because she was recently in the process of learning how to be a lap cat.
So I'm here today, with no more little friends to share in my daily adventures.
And as predictable as it may be to say that I never owned pets but that they owned me, and that they made my life better, the 12 years or so I had the great fortune of knowing Pumpkin and Jazzy makes me unashamed to be boldly clichéd.
Rest well my little boy. Rest well my little girl.
I miss you guys.