Jamie's Journal

by Grasshopper

July 7, 2008

Emotions: off the chart

I learned a life lesson today. The world opened up just a little bit further to show me that we mere mortals know about one/one millionth of what's out there. We miss guardian angels and goblins, goodness and evil by only seeing what we've been told to look for around us. Most of all, we miss miracles that happen right under our noses because we call them coincidence, déjà vu, or even mistakes.

When I was eight, my mama took me to the animal shelter to get me a kitten. My dad doesn't like cats of any kind, but my mama said I was a 'cat person' and needed one to be me. We walked up and down the rows of cages, touching outstretched paws, scratching proffered chins and ears, smiling at how all the kitties vied for our attention. My mama found a beautiful fluffy chestnut brown cat with the greenest eyes, but I could only see one little kitten.

My kitten was gray and runty with tangled fur and huge frightened eyes, a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree kind of kitten. "This one, Mama," I cried, standing by his cage. "This one belongs to me."

My mama took one look and made a weird face. "It's scrawny and scruffy," she tried to argue me out of my choice. She knew me though, stubborn as the day is long, and I knew the ragamuffin would be mine.

We asked what the big X on the kitty's cage label meant and the lady told us that animals with X's had been there for their allotted time and would be gassed the next day. We named my new kitten Lucky because we had found him in time.

He came home with us and became my friend, sleeping on my pillow, following me pretty much wherever I went around the house. He had to be a house cat because my dad believed that all cats killed all birds and if Lucky got out, he'd singlehandedly drop the bird population to zero. Lucky would sit in the window watching the birds and squirrels and I just knew that he was wishing to be outside. It was just one of the many compromises I made with my dad over the years.

As I grew, Lucky grew. He became a beautiful silver cat, a street Siamese. Siamese on one side and a street smart cat on the other. He had shiny silver fur, slanted blue eyes and white boots. He grew to thirteen pounds and got too big for his basket. I bought him a wicker laundry basket like Mama had for wash and he loved to cuddle down in his blankies, invisible.

As he grew, his name changed. Lucky shortened to Kiki, then Ki, then finally to the wonderfully transgendered name of KissyFace. My cat had taken on a girly name, yet still appeared quite butch . He didn't care. He was very secure in his identity. He always had this look in his eyes as if he was thinking, "Call me any name you want. I'm a Siamese and I'm cool with whatever."

The years have rolled by. I turned twenty-one this year and Kissy turned fourteen. That's ninety-eight in cat years. He slowed down, began to pick at his food and sleep most of the day. I knew he'd get old, but I wasn't ready for it to come at me so fast.

Do you cry? I do. I used to hold it back and nearly choke on the tears. You know what I mean.... that movie deal where you hyperventilate trying to keep it in until finally you let out this huge "Arggggg" sound, half moan/half

sob. Now I cry when I need to. I cry from the horror of life, the sadness of a movie, the pure happiness of the world. I'm lucky I'm gay cause my emotions rule me and tears cleanse me.

Kissy started this thing where he ate, but then it came right back out, at one end or the other. He slept all the time and dropped weight drastically.

I knew it was time. When you realize that the death of an animal friend is not about you, but about them, you begin to build the strength you need to let them go.

So, we come to today, July 7th, 2008. I stayed up all night holding Kissy so I could listen to him purr. He'd always been a lap cat and now he was just pressed to my chest, his motor slow but still rhythmic. I talked to him about all the fun we'd had and how we'd have more when I got to the Rainbow Bridge. You know about the Rainbow Bridge, don't you? I want to believe it, so I totally do.

When an animal friend dies, they go to the Rainbow Bridge where they become young and healthy again. They play and run, eat and make friends, but all the time they're waiting for us. When we finally finish up here, we find them and we cross over the Rainbow Bridge to whatever waits for us.

I love that.

This morning, I sent Kissy on to wait for me. He was ready. He told me so.

I told him I'd hold his paw and be right there when the doc helped him to sleep. We drove, like we always had, Kissy on the truck seat next me, his head resting against my leg. He was so skinny, so small. His eyes were glazed and his fur was dull, but, as always, he trusted me to do the right thing.

I think I did.

We got to the vet's office and I managed to choke out what I needed. The tears were boiling over. The vet led me to the back room where the table was and the animal cages sat, full of sick or adoptable dogs and kittens, and even a ferret. Kiss was lying in my arms, his head resting on my arm, his body exhausted.

And now, I'm going to tell you a miracle. I know people don't believe in them much, but I saw it, the vet saw it and it happened just like this. We walked into the room, Kissy sad and silent. A sound came from the cages, a meow.

Kissy's head jerked up and he looked around. I saw a small kitten, shiny black with a white face and white boots peering from a cage at us.

"Look, Kiss. That kitten is talking to you." I walked over to the cage with Kissy still looking out. And then it happened. The kitten stuck his paw through the wire and Kissy reached out and touched their paws together.

It was magic. My old precious friend was introducing me to a new friend.

It was as if Kissy was saying, "Look, Jamie, I've gotta go, but here's someone for you to love til I see you again." The kitty clung to the wire and I turned with Kissy in my arms to the vet's table. The shot was quick, the drive home was silent except for me crying my eyes out. Why is it we cry more over an animal friend than a family member? At least, I seem to. I let myself moan, trying to get the pain out.

I dug a hole with the backhoe out under the cottonwood where all the other animal friends are resting. I put Kissy in a strong Justin boot box wrapped in his best blankie, his toys and a copy of the Rainbow Bridge I copied off the internet. I tied it with a piece of string from the barn for him just in case he forgot where to go. One last touch to his soft face and I put him in the ground. I put my good friend in the ground and covered him with the rich sweet smelling Wyoming earth. He's lying next to Beau, my uncle's big black and tan, a good friend too.

I saddled Kick and rode, thinking about Kissy and the kitten. Wondering what exactly I'd seen. It took me twenty minutes to make up my mind. Wheeling Kick, I rode across country to the vet's. When I walked in the door, the ladies laughed. "Wondered how long it'd take you." Seems they both knew I was coming back for the magic kitten. I felt this ease in my heart, as if everything was all right now; as if Kissy was letting me go until he saw me again. I took the kitten home stuck inside my shirt. She should have wiggled and screeched, but she just cuddled and began to purr. I named her Pepper. I wonder how many Grasshopper fans can tell me why.

Now, I don't have any answers for my day, for what happened in that vet's office, but I do know that life can suck one minute and rise above it the next. And if gay guys are free to cry, not to play the macho "real men don't cry" role life's dumped on them, then I gotta say 'God bless us all.' We have the upper hand because we can revel in what makes us human, the human spirit and the human ability to cry when our heart's get broken.

Goodbye, Kissyface. Hello, Pepper. It may seem too soon, but I believe Pepper was chosen for me by my best friend. I laughed tonight as I watched Pepper pounce on the red wing hawk feather I tied to a string. I began the day crying hot tears and ended it in laughter. I'll cry tonight when the lights go out and I miss the familiar purr by my pillow, but I know he's watching out for me with those beautiful blue eyes.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead