Tag Archives: Death

Death of a Cat

Christopher, 2015

Christopher, 2015

Life continues until it doesn’t.

Obvious, huh? So much so, why bother writing it? Maybe because I’m not sure what it means.

Christopher died on Tuesday. We had been expecting his death, but it still felt unexpected. The timing was definitely…

I half want to write “inconvenient” here as there is a certain amount of accuracy to it. But there is an unintentional coldness present, too, with using such a word; an uncaring to it that is as far from the truth as one can ever get.

Maybe I can substitute “awkward” instead.

Gary called me at work. Already stressfully behind on bills, including rent, and with little food in the house, Christopher died: on Tuesday, two days before a future paycheck already devoured by red. I borrowed $85 cash from the store director to cover the cost (deepest thanks to him), clocked out, and, along with Gary, took Christopher to Kingston Funeral Home and paid for him to be cremated.

Afterwards, I went back to work.

Life continues.

We had him since he was a little black dot of 7 weeks. An integral part of our lives, his 19 ½ years saw us in three states, various apartments, and up and down circumstances. He woke us up on our 1996 Wedding Day with his “turbo tongue” full of kittenly affection. He was still around for our 2013 Marriage Redux.

Over the years, cat habits formed.

Evenings, he’d patrol our home like a security guard, checking off each room and being annoyed at us if we got up during the night; he’d have to recheck that room. Affectionate in his own way, he’d make a beeline for our heads, wanting — needing — to touch noses before settling on our laps. Later in his life, after we introduced moist food to help with constipation, he developed a clockwork habit of waking me up by standing on me and screaming to be fed.

He loved office chairs, catnip, and shredding nice furniture. He had a talent for opening doors and cabinets. He liked butter, which we learned to keep covered on the table. He had a strange fixation with tape that made wrapping presents – and keeping them wrapped — challenging.

He was lovable, insufferable, and all the adjectives in-between. Then those adjectives started losing their hold except for lovable, being replaced by the new ones old age and sickness bring. Yet it felt like love alone would be a powerful enough word to contradict fate…

Yet, here I am, Sunday, several days later and still trying to properly mourn the loss of our beloved cat.

Sunday, my day off, with a committee meeting and board meeting coming up this afternoon. Grocery shopping somehow needs to be done, as we have nothing for dinner. I have submissions to read for the Mud Season Review, author bios to compile for the Burlington Book Festival website, and I should probably read Go Down Moses for the event I’m hosting at the Kellogg Hubbard Library come this Tuesday.

I have a resume and cover letter, too, that need revised, as they both must be absolutely perfect as I apply for my dream job at the Vermont Humanities Council.

And, of course, my in-progress fiction and poetry awaits my focused attention, along with markets to be researched for submitting completed works…

Life continues until it doesn’t.

Is that a nihilistic expression of the meaningless of life? The ache in my heart feels like it is, wanting me to throw in the towel at the banal absurdity of it all.

Or is it a seize-the-day cry emphasizing the first part and beseeching us to pick the towel back up, dry our eyes, and make the most of this limited time?

I think it just might be both.


Nanu Nanu No More

Is it living or just existence?

Suicidal Ideation.

if I stepped off the sidewalk in front of that Casella recycling truck, would it kill me right away or would it drag me first?

Would a fall from the roof of our apartment building be enough? Probably, especially if I hit headfirst, since heads tend to splat like melons despite our thick skulls.

If I cut my right wrist deep enough to do the deed, would the following cut in my left wrist be shallower due to the injured — and thus presumably made weaker — right? How long does it take to bleed to death? Who would find me?

I bet if I downed my supply of HIV meds all at once, it would stop my heart or stop my kidneys or stop something rather vital to life continuing, I’m just not sure what or whether or not it would be violently, painfully, and inconveniently slow going as it did so.

I fancy myself an artist, so such intermittent thoughts might just be residual morbidity from broad-sweeping creativity. Then again, maybe my output is just residual creativity from broad-sweeping morbidity.

Regardless, I do think about death a lot. But I also think about life; what it means to live. I search for the answer to the ever-elusive — or is it illusive? — why.

Religion seems a dead-end for such contemplation, devaluing life as it does by its shrill upsell of afterlife/post-life products like “Heaven” and “Nirvana”; a canonized carrot vis-a-vis the current stick that is life.

And life can be one shitty stick — or is it shtick? — indeed, allowing for flimflam men of faith.

My spiritual convictions notwithstanding — or is it not with standing? — I try to find a place for myself in the here and now.

I try to be a part of the queer community but feel disconnected from it. I try to be a part of the writing community but feel disconnected from that too. I know I don’t spend enough time working at being connected to either, but much of that is because I spend so much of my time just scraping by that I’m too wiped to be of use; to feel like I could be of use.

Yet at 46, suicide outside of dark thoughts seems unlikely in my future; in a way, life itself is one long suicide, as we are dying as soon as we are born. The older one gets, the closer inevitable death comes, even if we can avoid walking in the street in front of a gun-toting lunatic lawman.

So reading of Robin Williams‘ death at 63, my fist thought, after being stunned, was that he was so old — so close to curtain call already — that it seemed weird he’d go and do a thing like that.

My second was how brilliant of an artist he was, accumulating well-deserved fortune and fame for performances both comedic and serious. Sure his current series got cancelled, but surely his incredible past accomplishments and cross-genre successes should have allowed for final Golden Years even with some tarnishing by Parkinson’s.

Right now, bronze doesn’t appear to be forthcoming in my senior life, let alone gold, and I know how crappy I feel inside about my lack of such metal — or is it mettle? — so my third, and not yet final thought was:

How do you stop being your own worst enemy?


I moved a dead cat today.

We noticed it last night, half-curled and not moving pressed up against our house next to the front porch. Half-uncurled and not living, it lay wedged between the porch’s cement wall and a thick bush composed of disorderly stalks that tried but failed to conceal it.

The Mayor’s Action Center has a form to use when such deaths occur on public property like an alley or street or curb.  However,

If the dead animal is on private property, please call the Mayor’s Action Center (MAC) at 327-4MAC to discuss options for pick up.

When the then closed office opened the next morning, I called. The options, as it turned out, involved my first moving the deceased animal to public property like an alley or street or curb…

I thought I might use a snow shovel, its wide blade perhaps best for sliding under the entire body of the unfortunate creature. However, the tight space of its departure confounded such plans. So I settled on a square shovel with shorter handle that could better insinuate itself between bush and porch.

Even with that more suitable instrument, it took some time to shift the body away from the clutches of the now confrontational stalks and coax it into a position conducive to shoveling.

Time enough to notice its mouth open in final scream and baring exposed teeth so sharp and pointy yet oh so pointless now.

Death has weight, you know. It’s quite heavy. I feared I might cut it in half during my graceless exertions and end up making it twice the burden. But I delivered it safely – an ironic adverb for sure – to the curb.

As I drove to work I thought of the one guy – and there is just one guy in the whole city; that is what the mayor’s office told me – driving around all day to pick up remains from alley or street or curb.

I wondered what goes through his mind as he does what has to be done.

I know what went through my mind as I did what had to be done:

Ah, gee whiz,

may you now rest in peace.

The Necessitation of Sexual Orientation Revelation

EMT Timothy McCormick was killed Saturday night.

He was gay, an eagle scout, and on duty. Those three words — gay, scout, and duty — are important ones and should be said loud and clear, in that order, over and over again.  They need to be Klaxon loud until deaf America hears.

To do so is not playing politics, pushing an agenda or showing disrespect. To NOT do so would be more accurately described as possessing such attributes and is exactly the kind of subtle inaction anti-gay factions promote in their fabrication of reality.

We are having discussions of the discriminatory sexual orientation policy of the Boys Scouts of America in the unreal world of there being no gays in the scouts. The real world is where gays are already there and have shown their mettle rising up through the ranks from Cub Scout to Eagle Scout. You’re damn right it is important that Timothy was an Eagle Scout AND gay.

We are having discussions of marriage equality in the unreal Micah Clark world of gays not caring about anyone but themselves. The real world is where gays not only care about others but are actively engaged — on duty — in jobs that serve and protect adults and children alike. You’re damn right it is important that Timothy was an EMT AND gay.

We are having discussions of sex education in the Stacey Campfield unreal world of gays wanting to recruit children. The real world is where self-identified LGBT children are being bullied and it is society as a whole that needs better sex education.

The fact that in the real world Timothy made an It Gets Better video empowering such kids is damn important, too.

A crucial step in disenfranchising a class is rendering that class invisible in the social sphere. This allows malicious artists of the unreal the opportunity to paint broad brushstrokes of generalizations. The best counter to such sweeping statements is specificity.

The kind of specificity that necessitates constant, continuous, and unrelenting revelation of sexual orientation.

Such call for action might be construed as a call for gays being in your face about their –and others — sexual orientation. You’re damn right it is such a call.

For It has to be that way as long as blind America keeps on turning its head and omitting us from obituaries, wedding announcements, and any other normal societal frame of reference that humanizes us and the people whom we love.

Timothy’s death was a tragedy, make no mistake about that. But to not draw attention to his sexual orientation would be a travesty.

Timothy McCormick, may you rest in peace.

And may the world in which you lived keep on getting better.