“I love cats because I enjoy my home, and little by little, they become its visible soul.” — Jean Cocteau
On January 25, 2015, at about 10:30 AM, Gomez Addams, the Astonishing Talking Cat of World Renown, passed away after a struggle with a protracted illness. He was eighteen years old. He is survived by his feline friend, Leah, his human friend, my mother Carol, and his devoted life companion, me. We are all devastated by his loss.
I loved Gomez as much as any human can love anything or anyone. I’ve had cats all my life. I’ve loved all of them, and I’ve grieved for all of them as they passed, each in their turn. But Gomez was special. He was more than a pet, he was a partner. His bond with me was more mutually interactive than any other cat I’ve known. It wasn’t just me doting on him. Everything each of us did, we did together. I was the mission-vision half of the team. I came up with the big plans and organizing initiatives and whatnot. Gomez was the operations/implementation supervisor. With his overbearing internal clock he kept me on track, made sure I never missed breakfast, lunch, dinner, studio time, desk/computer time, tv time, housekeeping time, snuggle time, bed time and wake-up time. And with his clear, feline focus on priorities, he made sure I never lost sight of the point of it all — to be happy. To be comfortable. To be filled with pleasure and stability and love. He informed and maintained all the daily routines that made up our home. While I seldom scored big wins in my role, he always delivered 120% in his.
He came to me randomly. Strangers dumped him off with my mother without warning when word got round that my previous cat, Gina the Notorious Adventuress, had fallen to cancer. “This is for your daughter,” she said they said. He appeared before me a little black barn cat, nameless, crawling with fleas, worm-infested, maybe about nine weeks old, probably the last of a litter to be gotten rid of, and his previous owners gone without trace. I thought ‘Well, I guess I have a new cat now,’ and I did what a person is supposed to do. First step: out with the fleas. I named him Gomez Addams after my favorite pop-culture character and image of the Ideal Man. Over the next couple of months, my little lost Addams lad was dewormed, neutered, litter-trained, made presentable like a delinquent with a court date.
But it was all him from there. Starting with our landlord, it was Gomez and Gomez alone who charmed all comers and swayed all judges. A remarkable character emerged as he matured — debonair and impeccable, quietly grand in presence with just a tasteful hint of gravitas, expansive and substantial in personality. He was liked and admired by all who knew him. His good looks, cool attitude, and gift for oratory gained him celebrity in at least two states. Though not given to public displays of affection, he was kind to his friends and an endless source of joy to his fortunate intimates. An athlete and sportsman. A killer of mice. A singer. And in private, a lover of petting and kisses.
He was my constant companion for nearly twenty years. He joined me at a time when I was lost in the wilderness and struggling to put together an adult life for myself, to pick a direction and find my voice. I built my adult life. I did it with him and around him — in partnership with him as he grew into his own adult life. Little by little, he became the visible soul of my home, of the heart of my life, those things and spaces that were mine and definitive of me. He was there in all of them. Through good times and hard times, through human relationships growing and breaking down, through successes and failures, through betrayals and rejection, yes, even through sickness and health, he was there. Reliable, secure, warm and purring. Guardian against misfortune and ill-will. No matter what might happen out in the world, I always knew I would come home to peace and comfort and him.
He was my rock. We were so happy together.
But now he’s gone. I knew I would lose him. Cats, after all, just don’t live as long as humans. No amount of knowing could prepare me for this, though. I feel as if half my life has been ripped away. He was the soul of my home. He was the spirit that enlivened my private life. The soul is gone out of my house. There is no life, no joy in what I do now, day to day. Perhaps someday I’ll feel happy again, but I can’t even imagine where such happiness would come from, if not from him.
My dearest friend and closest companion lived a long, full, healthy and comfortable life. He died naturally in my arms, in the bed he’d shared with me his whole life, surrounded by his family. He passed away four days after my birthday, in the first month of the new year.
It was a damned hard January for a lot of people. I know many who are entering this year mourning loved ones or facing the imminent loss of loved ones, both beloved humans and beloved pets. Myself, I had such high hopes. I was looking forward to starting a new life-chapter, and I went into it armed with projects and resolutions. But this year has slammed into people’s lives with a wave of hardships and pain.
What the hell, 2015? What did we ever do to you? I know he was old and frail, but why did you take him from me before he could enjoy just one more warm spring day? Why did you dangle the hope of recovery when the vet’s care seemed to save him, only to shut down his organs a week after he showed marked improvement? My man. My poor little fellow.
By this time, I had planned to have the dollhouse finished and the first artworks using it in progress. I had planned to have my novel in beta-reading. I had planned to launch a new blog and an ambitious series of online projects. But I don’t know how to work without him watching me building my artworks, or resting his head on my arm while I write, or interrupting me to announce meal times. I don’t know how to keep to a schedule without him ticking off the segments of the day with his habits. I don’t know how to sleep without him by me in the dark.
I feel that I owe it to him to get back on track. He carried me emotionally all those years. He helped to build this human life I’m living. I can’t let it all be for nothing. I know I have to keep working toward those goals I had hoped to share with him.
But I don’t know how.
If I don’t figure it out — if this terrible pain and all the losses being suffered by my friends and family in the lead-up to this year don’t give way to — I don’t know, something somehow good in some way I can’t imagine — somehow beneficial to humanity — somehow conducive to growth and wisdom — then damn you, 2015. I will not forgive you. You had no need to be so cruel.
So this blog, which was to have been the journal of my new projects, will instead be a journal of my attempts to find my way again. He came to me when I was lost. Without him, I’m lost again. But I have to believe that I’m stronger and wiser now than I was then, and that strength and wisdom, such as it may be, is due in large part to him. I have to believe it even though I can’t feel it right now.
I believe in reincarnation. I believe our souls are eternal and journey from life to life and from one form to another, but that we remain consistent in who we are, the kinds of beings we are. Someday, somewhere, there will be a particularly astonishing and impressive beast of some kind, or maybe a tree that heals with its shade and supports countless lives, or a dark-haired man, big and robust, with piercing eyes and the gift of gab, who may seem outwardly somewhat staid and reserved and even dour, but who will prove to be the best of people, the most trustworthy of friends, the most loving of companions. He will be my Gomez reincarnated. If you meet him, treasure him.
Good-bye, Gomez, my beloved friend. I will never forget you. I will try hard, for your sake. I miss you. I miss you so much.