Monday, August 19, 2013
I've tried a few times since Ned passed away to write something about him. A tribute, a lesson, anything. But I just couldn't. I haven't written anything, period, since I said goodbye to him. Even now, I feel like it's not going to be good enough, to properly express how important he was, and how much I loved him, but I'm just going to write anyway. I still can't believe he's gone, and I don't ever want to forget one single thing.
Ned was grey, and a little white, and so beautiful. He had fluffy fur, but my brother always told me it was a lot fluffier when I first got him, and that I petted his tummy sparse. Ned was annoying, rarely listened, and yelled constantly, like a petulant toddler, whenever he wanted something. He knew if he persisted, he would get it. Pretty soon he realized that he called the shots, and that I would just be grateful for the peace. He was soft, and didn't care about toys but he loved treats. He's the only cat I've ever had that used his cat bed, and he loved it. I was never allergic to him, which was weird. He didn't shed, and he had terrible gums. I called him my Little Gummy Bear. He needed dental surgery one day, and selfishly I loved every second of his recovery because he was such a suck. His meow was different for a whole week, and it broke my heart. I fed him tuna to make him feel better.
His birthday was the same day as mine. And at Christmas, I always made him a stocking, but he never cared. Come to think of it, the only thing he ever really wanted was my attention. That, and my meals.
Whenever I was eating, he would stand up and throw his arms across the table to drag it down. More often than not, he succeeded. In the last few months, I just started letting him sit on my lap throughout meals, and we would both eat off of my fork. I realize that some people will think that's gross, but I loved it. He was my little buddy, and he thought I was a good cook.
I got Ned from a shelter when he was one. He came from a hoarder, who had surrendered 19 other cats. I went about six years ago, on my birthday, to the OSPCA to bring home a friend. I saw all the cats, picked all of them up, and decided there was no one there for me. As I was leaving, this one messy cat ran across one of the rooms where they were kept, and jumped up on a cat tree and stared at me. Right into my eyes. I know it sounds romanticized, but he did. I was with my girlfriend at the time, and I said, "We have to go back in. Lookit that one. He's staring at me." She thought I was crazy, but I knew.
We went back in, and I went into his room. I did the "good cat test" (that's when you put them in their back and rub their belly. If they let you maul them, they're keepers). The whole time, he just sat there and stared into my eyes. Since he was the quietest cat that was there- not a peep- and because he passed my test, I decided he was mine. The lady at the shelter told me his name was Ned, but I could change it if I wanted. I thought it was perfect. He was a disheveled, awkward little cat, and I loved the name. So I took Ned home. By the time I got him back to my apartment, I knew I had made a giant mistake. He lied to me. From the time I took him home, until the time I had to say goodbye, he never stopped screaming. He was so annoying I couldn't handle it. I thought he was just awful. This cat quickly worked his way into my heart though, and he stayed there.
Ned's passing happened all in one day. His failing health, and having to say goodbye. It was easily the worst day of my life. I've never met a cat like him. I know everyone says that, but it's true. I've never had such a bond with an animal that I would actually say no to plans to come home and hang out with him. I've never had an animal look into my eyes when I was talking to them, or scream into my face when I was laying on the couch so I would hoist them up underneath my arm.I would have the worst sleeps ever, just because I wasn't willing to disturb him from laying on my head or sprawling across my legs. We would watch TV on my couch like buddies, him leaning back into the crook of my arm, legs out, purring. I'd put collars and costumes on him and he'd scream like he was being murdered, and it made my night every time. I would yell his name frantically, just to watch him scream run across my floor to see why he was in trouble, and then I'd scoop him up and squeeze him so tight I'm sure he struggled to breathe, but he'd just sit there until I was done.
I'd put on Youtube videos of cats meowing, and then when he was running around searching for his babies, I'd console him and assure him that the bad kittens were gone. I do realize that if I ever have children, they will immediately be taken away from me. But I just loved taking care of him.
He slept with me every night. Sometimes on my head, sometimes next to me, spooning like he was my husband. Sometimes I'd wake up, and he'd be squished underneath me, his head wet from my drool. Again, I realize that some people will think this is gross, but to me it re affirmed this little creature's comfort level with me. That there was no place he'd rather be than with me. This was hammered home even further when I`d be having a shower and hear a rustling with the curtain and look and see him watching me. Creepy and funny, and a few times he fell in.
He loved his brother Binx so much. I've never seen such a visible, heartfelt love between two animals before. Binx took care of Ned, and Ned was a big useless baby and adored Binx.
They never fought. They just kinda hung out. Ned always sat at the top of the couch, at whatever end of the couch I was sitting on. He'd put one of his paws on my shoulder, and fall asleep. And as soon as I'd get up, he was my little shadow.
I know it's somewhat cliche, but I try and find a lesson in everything. I am so profoundly and physically sad on a level that I didn't know existed, that I don't have him anymore to come home to. But I'll always have little stories and moments to reflect on when I need them. Ned was the only thing in my entire life that I've loved fully and completely, without holding back. I told him and showed him how much I loved him every day. I never left my apartment without saying, "Love you, see ya later,". I also never left my house without taking a picture of him for some reason, but that was just because he made the best faces. I think he hated it, but I'm so grateful for all those pictures. I think that if I put as much uninhibited emotion into everything I did, everyone I cared about, and everything that was important to me, I'd have such a lovely life. How sad it is when you lose something or someone you've loved so deeply, but what a wonderful feeling it is to know that you have no regrets, and you know that person, that project, that relationship, whatever it is, got one hundred percent of you.
My heart will never heal from how much it misses Ned, and maybe that's what the lesson is. That it's not necessarily about healing, and moving past things. It's unreasonable to think that after huge life changes we'll ever be the same. We won't ever be the same. But we should always be conscious of being good to ourselves, and making sure the people who we love, know that they're loved.
At my very worst, Ned showed me every day that I deserved to be happy, and to feel loved. Through that it prompted me to forgive myself and others, to write thank you notes, to tell people I loved them, and not to forget to stop sometimes and take in really wonderful moments.
I have a new kitten now; his name is Twig, and he's a lunatic. Ned would hate him, and that makes me smile. I got him at the same place, in the same room that I got Ned. He's grey, and has messy fur and a terrible attitude. He's funny and Binx already loves him, but Binx has always been perfect. I love him too. I initially got him because Binx was so lonely, but I think I needed him too. So begins a new chapter in the Bertrand animal clan, and I'm sure it would be just as ridiculous. There will never be another Ned, and it's probably best that way.
I feel like this is pretty rambley, and if anyone's read this far, I hope there's something in this mess that maybe struck a chord. Hug your lil critters tightly tonight. I'd give anything for you to wake me up at five am for the first of many breakfasts, and I promise I wouldn't yell at you this time. But I'll settle for saying one last sweet dreams, and I love you, and I miss you. And if you're chasing some poor hamster or bird around the Rainbow Bridge, knock it off and stop being such a jerk, buddy.