I’ve been awake since 3:30 a.m. (it’s 5:30 now). I could have been productive and done things like reply to emails that close friends and family have sent, but where’s the sense in that? Instead, I spent some time looking back at the days when I used to blog regularly (pre-Will, pre-kids) and decided it’s time to tell the end of Clive’s story.
I’ve been on this online writing/journalling/etc. thing since around 1997. Somewhere around then, my friend Chrissy and I stopped at a Chick-fil-a in Plano, Texas, for lunch. A little grey stripey kitten was playing in the median between the building and the drive-through, and I was so captivated that Chrissy kindly allowed us to spend our lunch hour sitting in the parking lot and watching this cat. (She’s a REALLY good friend.) The next day found us back at the same Chick-fil-a, trying to convince the cat to come out from under his dumpster living area. He was finally persuaded by Chrissy’s stellar performance of “Created by Clive” and accompanying dance. That’s how Clive was found, adopted, and christened. He also earned the middle name “Begbie” because he was just being such a total jerk. This was also typical of Clive.
It was fate, really. I mean, you have to have a kid or a cat or be planning a wedding or a really neat hobby to be interesting enough to write online every day, right? I didn’t have a kid and I’m really kind of boring, so God and the universe provided me with a cat who could fill that gap.
Anyway, Clive became my constant companion and cohort and source of irritation, just like a good cat should. We actually joked that he was a dog in disguise because he’d come when he was called, he’d wait for you at the door when you came home, and he’d fetch things. He even liked to go for walks. He was too smart for his own good, really. Clive moved at least nine times with me that I can count – all over Dallas and eventually to Houston. I’m not crazy enough to have actually put Clive in my wedding party, but I won’t deny that I thought about it. He knew when to comfort me, he knew when to leave me alone (mostly), and he was the best cat I’ve ever seen when it came to interacting with kids.
He was also a total pain in the rear. Clive would sidle up to my water glasses and calmly drink from them, as if he didn’t have totally fresh water of his own. He’d steal my food, gnaw on my bamboo knitting needles so the ends were rough, stalk the kids’ yogurt (I did eventually have kids, but still wasn’t interesting enough myself to write about them), and he’d destroy newspaper any chance he got. (Thus the demise of the printed newspaper industry. Seriously.) His worst “trick” is that any time he got mad at me (and eventually Will), he’d simply find something important to us – bed, desk, knitting – and pee on it. Repeatedly. We’ve had to throw away countless Clive artifacts, including a king-sized mattress and an artificial Christmas tree.
This summer Clive turned 15 years old. He had a runaway escapade last year where he spent almost two weeks in the quiet suburban wilderness of our neighborhood, but that seemed to cure his wanderlust. We would let him go out in the fenced back yard, especially since that seemed to alleviate his random peeing issues. (We were suspecting his usual anger management issues, but also stress about all the changes this summer.) He would explore front and back, but wouldn’t leave.
One day I came home from work and noticed that our neighbor’s dog, a German Shepherd, was in our backyard. “That’s random,” I thought, and ascribed it to the house showing we’d had that day, loose boards in the fence, or just bizarreness. After all, our dog Josie, a Black Lab/Great Dane mix (we think), frequently managed to get out through the gate or occasionally visited Max’s yard. I was busy and didn’t check, and Will was a few minutes behind me.
Will went out there to get Max out and came back in with a serious, serious look on his face. He took the glass of water out of my hands, folded me up into a tight embrace, and said, “Erin, Clive is dead.” He knows me well enough, you see, to understand how completely this would shatter me.
We don’t entirely know – and I refuse to explore it any further – whether Max was true to his nature and had a hunting dog’s altercation with an animal, whether Clive was simply finding his spot outside to pass away, or whether Clive was scared and his older body couldn’t take it. The end result was the same: my boy is gone.
Over two months later, I still can’t really handle that. It was the one thing on top of all the other planned stress that has made this fall escalate to whole new levels of stress. It may seem silly that the loss of a cat could affect someone so much, but he wasn’t just my cat … he was my buddy. Don’t underestimate the power of the Cat – there’s a reason that “Smelly Cat” and “Soft Kitty” became so popular.
I keep resisting the urge to run out and find another cat who needs to me to adopt him or her. There’s the whole new baby and moving thing, as well as the two kids, one cat, one dog, and three adults who already make up our household. And there’s the fact that no cat will ever be the same as Clive, and that’s what I really am looking for. Well, minus the whole peeing in anger thing.