My first cat died. My mom and I took her to the vet and had her euthanized because she developed breast cancer and her arthritis in her hips was getting worse. We made the decision to euthanize her early in the deterioration process because we didn’t want her to suffer. Wraith was sickly but not too bad off, meaning she still maybe had 3-4 months of life left BUT we didn’t want her to have 3-4 months of increasing pain and we didn’t want to put her through numerous medical procedures like biopsies and surgeries. So we decided to end her life early while she still had some pep left in her and her suffering was still kind of manageable.
She was one of those cats who hated everything, even cuddles. She was very much like Big Cat Rescue’s Nikita Lioness.
Once, she had a spider bite on her paw and hid in the closet for a week. I had to climb into the closet with a bowl of food and hold her on my lap to feed her, not because she was crippled by the spider but because she was so pissed off she didn’t want to come out, even to eat. She did sulk quickly out and back in to use the litter box, though. And every time I fed her she would say: “munch munch munch GROWL munch munch munch GROWL.” Not because she was in unbearable pain, but because she had to suffer the indignity of life when she was in such a foul mood. The swelling went down after a few days of hydrogen peroxide treatment but her mood remained as spiky as her fur for weeks after.
Wraith did not meow. Wraith screamed. Her default noise was REAAAAAAAW. Even when she was “happy.” She loved treat time and she did purr on occasion but that was mostly when she was napping in the sunshine. She loved catnip and open windows. She loved chicken.
When Wraith (aka Wraithy wraith, aka Wraithums) was much younger she was an indoor/outdoor cat. Once, she disappeared for two whole weeks. I was devastated and assumed the worst. On the fourteenth day I decided, when I got off work, to go out and not go home until I found her. I wasn’t scouring the neighborhood long when I saw a crumpled, black shape lying on the side of the road (a busy road). I threw myself down on a stranger’s lawn and sobbed my heart out over the dead, black cat that was surely my lost Wraithy wraith. I called my mom to come help me get her home because I was in no state to drive. While I was waiting for my mom I asked the owner of the house my cat had died in front of for a trash bag. The unfortunate elderly woman was very perturbed by the grief-stricken girl on her doorstep and even though she gave me a trash bag she was very worried because she had already called the city to have waste management remove the corpse of my beloved feline companion and didn’t know what would happen when they came by and there was no dead cat to collect. Of course, I didn’t care.
My mom safely parked on a side street and walked up to me, her hysterical daughter, with a very solemn look on her face. I had scooped up the bleeding, broken, extremely dead smelling creature of my affection and stashed her in my trunk to get away from the old lady. When my mom opened the trash bag to say her goodbyes, she said something that shocked me down to my bones:
“That’s not Wraith.”
First I was furious at her, how could she say such a thing?
Then I was confused.
Then I was furious at my cat for running away for so long.
Then I felt so gross because I had spent the last half hour cuddling with a dead cat that wasn’t even mine. My car and I smelled really bad.
And then, finally, I felt really sorry for the dead cat who didn’t have anyone who would mourn for her.
So I insisted we take the dead cat to our local vet to 1) dispose of and 2) determine once and for all if the cat really was Wraithy wraith or just an unfortunate look alike.
The veterinary assistant was not at all surprised when I walked into a full lobby and whispered so none of the living pet owners would hear: I have a dead cat and I think it’s mine could I talk to someone about how to identify a body? I left the dead cat outside until a room was ready for us. In the parking lot, in the trash bag.
The vet was very sympathetic but my account of recent events was confused by tears and frustration so it took her a few minutes to analyze what was going on. First she asked me if I wanted to identify the cause of death, which, honestly, I wasn’t that concerned with. Then she asked me about my cat. I told her my cat was a spayed female. She then informed me that the dead cat in my arms was an un-neutered male, most likely a stray.
The dead cat was not my cat.
I was happy and furious at the same time. My cat was alive. My cat was also still missing. And I felt extremely sorry for the dead stray I thought was mine. I turned his body over to the vet, as he had no human to take care of him in life, I adopted him for his death. I gave him a name and wrote a poem about him.
Then, still stinking of dead cat, I got back in my car and drove to my mom’s house, more determined than ever to find my missing cat. As I pulled up to the house I saw a familiar black shadow foraging for treats on the front porch.
Typically, while I was dealing with another cat, she had come home. I dramatically ran over to her and scooped her up before she had the chance to run away again. She greeted me with her traditional “Raaawww” and was not happy with being dragged inside the house again.
Fast forward about 10 years and Wraithy wraith is no more. But her spirit lives on. And we were together until the end.
Our vet was very kind, professional and understanding when we brought Wraithy in for the last time. A few days later, they sent my mom a card:
Here’s the poem about the other dead cat:
Ulysses the Cat
Stretched in the sunlight
crowning Calypso’s shore,
the black cat dozed,
small blue crabs drown
in a capsized silver urn; cream filled
and slopping beside him.
Why long for plump
tuna steak and cheesecake
crumbs when Apollo
scratches behind my ears
and no storm cloud
threatens olive saplings
with shaking? That
rural stone hearth
plucked from the heart
of the hill my paws pounded
daily is miles away.
Waves lick gingerly
against the pebbly shore
the lambent royal blue of
Penelope’s summer dress.
He is still listless as
he is lifted up by
roughened driftwood hands
and tossed back into the sea.
Work In Progress Tag: I found this tag on Trynda E. Adair’s youtube channel. Check it out here 🙂
1. What is the working title of your book?
Here and Away. It’s a play on abstract locations and the names of the two main characters.
2. Where did the idea come from for your book?
My dad used to tell me a bed time story when I was 3-4 about two brothers out on a quest for a magical stone, one brother was good and one was bad. The moral of the story is good always triumphs over evil. In my story, much like real life, evil isn’t that easy to vanquish and my story bloomed from that story.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
4. Which actors would you choose to play in your movie rendition?
I honestly haven’t thought of actors or specific people to play my characters, in my head I see physical characteristics: Away has a scruffy face. Maybe if Norman Reedus (The Boondocks Saints/The Walking Dead) and Matt Bomer (American Horror Story: Hotel/The Normal Heart) had a love child, that would be what Away would look like.
5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Two brothers embark on a journey to stop an apocalyptic plague from devastating the world.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self-published. I love doing everything myself, from formatting ebook settings to cover design. I love the self-publishing process.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote draft 1 during Nanowrimo 2016. I believe it took me 29 days, the last day I wrote an 8,000 word marathon.
8. What other books would you compare this story to?
9. Who or what inspired you to write the book?
The idea was inspired by the story my father used to tell me but other inspirations are all the urban fantasy tales that are around now that weren’t around when I was a teen. I wanted to write a story that my inner 16 year old would love.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
If you like stories within stories and snarky characters this book is for you 🙂
I want to be a writer. What is a writer? A writer is a person who enjoys writing more than anything else. Or a person with writing on their list of top 3 things to do (Mine is: 1. Cats 2. Writing 3. Sex) but I don’t write every day and I can live, even though I get depressed and nap a lot, without writing. I want to be one of those people who writes every day but I don’t know how to get there. Obviously if I want to write every day I need to Write Every Day but if it’s not natural/if I have to force myself to do it am I a legitimate writer or am I just faking?
Was I already a writer because I wrote 3 poetry collections but now I’m not a writer any more because I’m not producing anything?
I hate editing fiction. I have no problem revising poetry but when I need to revise/edit this huge mountain of prose, that is my 50,000 word not very big at all but it’s the longest piece I’ve ever written, I want to curl up in a ball on the couch and sleep all day. Which I did. Sleep all day.
So how do I go about being a writer (again) in my current state? Even if I feel like I’m faking or not the thing to do is write every day. Right? So now the question is: what to write? I don’t like writing about myself. Journaling is difficult because I don’t want to think about my hopes/dreams or where I want to be 5 years from now. I want to be alive and 125 lbs. and somehow not anorexic or depressed and off the anti-anxiety meds.
I like writing about things I see and memories but when I don’t have to go to work I generally don’t leave the apartment so I don’t get to see anything exciting. What I think of as exciting. I want to write something interesting. Dreams are hard to write because sometimes they scare or bother me. Like I had a dream a few days ago where I killed my elementary school best friend with morphine but she had clones and I was freaking out about hiding a dead body when I really didn’t have to because she wasn’t really dead.
Until very recently I had no characters in my brain that I liked, I had protagonists but no stories or stories with no protagonists. And I didn’t write fiction. Poetry doesn’t need characters but now I have 3 characters in my head and I’m not using them properly.
I need to write my characters doing things. I need to give them the lives I/they want. Or the lives they need/are supposed to have.
–Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill (at her poetry reading at the University of Notre Dame in 2011)