I came home last Thursday to find him yowling in pain and unable to move his hind legs. He was agonizingly hobbled, dragging himself about in fits and starts.
As I was to find out from the vet later that evening at the emergency clinic, he had suffered the feline equivalent of a stroke.
“In humans,” the vet explained, gently breaking the bad news, “blood clots go to our brains; in cats they go to where the main artery to the legs divides.”
And so Iz’s hind quarters, starved of oxygen, had given out.
The prognosis was grim. Without exactly saying so, the vet was gently guiding us to a decision to euthanize our pet of eight years.
We said our good-byes, stroking him after he had been sedated to alleviate the pain and prepare him for the fatal injection. He died peacefully at age 10.
But, I’ve learned, he hasn’t gone.
He was an indoor cat (after an ferocious outside brawl with an stray interloper) and an insistent presence. He took over the place...or, to be exact, places.... The back of the couch, the bed, the easy chair and vast expanses of our lives.
His presence was, and is, palpable.
It’s ghostly in a comforting way.
I don’t a open door leading outside without wondering where Izzy is. Will he bolt, as he so often did?
I come down for breakfast and expect to be greeted with the meowing reminder that he is to be fed before anything else can happen. Before I put the kettle on the stove or slice a banana or pour out my cereal.
There’s a sunny spot on our bed where I still expect to find him when I enter the bedroom.
On a handy kitchen ledge is the laser pointer whose red, glowing dot of light lured Iz to pounce and pursue.
The litter box that needs emptying, of course, no longer does.
As I read in my chair, I fully expect to be joined by “The Iz.” He had a habit of preempting whatever pearls of prose had seized my attention. Having nosed aside newspaper, book or magazine, he’d settle into my lap and work his way up my chest until we were eye-to-eye.
We’d commune, we two creatures. He’d set me to wondering about his world.
What could you be thinking, Iz? What goes on behind those amber eyes?
The joy of pondering the mysterious world that happened to be residing on my chest.
And now there’s the new mystery, the mystery of death. Where is Iz now?
The answer is clear when I open the door to the kitchen in the morning and still hear his reminder, when I settle into my reading chair and feel I’m being considered as a resting place, when I come up the stairs in the evening and look at the bed and know its shared comfort.
Where is he?
To my joy, he is everywhere.