If I can avoid it, I don’t like penning two sad posts back-to-back.
Today, I can’t avoid it. But given who’s the source of sorrow, I can’t be too sappy, either. Not if I don’t want a certain sleek little mink of a cat to haunt me haughtily.
Queen — that Queen, the queen — has left this earth.
It all happened so quickly, I’m still looking around corners for her today, but she’s gone: some GI distress, a bit of loud breathing, a trip to Dr. Fantastic, and BLAM — an inoperable throat tumor, a too-obvious decision, an unwelcome adieu.
Nobody saw this one coming. I suppose that’s the way she’d have wanted it: startling, a meteor of shock hurtling over our heads.
Lithe and relentlessly youthful, Queen was a tiny cat with a torrential personality. She started her Tabby’s Place story fresh out of a north Jersey shelter in 2007. She’d been owned, declawed, and surrendered for the crime of — and I quote — not being “wanted anymore.”
She came by her chaos honestly.
Whatever stormed inside of Queen, she was burning to share it. She lived in the uncanny intersection of affection, agita and genocidal rage, thrilled to be close to people, follow people, and bite people so hard that, if you lifted your arm, you’d lift her off the table by her teeth.
Queen was complicated.
Queen loved being complicated.
And, over the past three years, Queen made my life complicated.
My soulmate cat Webster had scarcely been gone a week when Queen sidled in. My desk would be hers. (After about eight hours, other cats learned this, and collectively abandoned my entire quarter of the office.) My airspace would be hers. And, in some complicated way, I would be hers.
And this is where I learned to be continuously confused.
Queen wanted a relationship with me. She spent 80% of her time on my desk, purring loudly behind my computer monitor, looking me in the eyes and sprinting to my side the instant I arrived each morning. She wanted a relationship.
But pity the fool I am for thinking I knew what the word “relationship” meant.
If I pet Queen, she would bite me. Hard. If I answered my phone, Queen would bite me, hard. If I yawned, or picked up a pen, or thought about soup, Queen would bite me, hard.
If I ignored her? There would be blood. (Mine.)
If I doted on her? There would be LOTS of blood. (Mine.)
But she never left. Ever. Whatever she wanted, she was getting.
I still have no idea what that was. And that’s my great regret.
When Jonathan socked me with the news of Queen’s death yesterday, my emotions were complicated. There was grief, of course, bigger than I could have expected. There was confusion and disbelief.
But what lingered, what’s slinking around me still, is regret.
generally stubbornly believed that relentless love is always victorious. You know the kind: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Never return evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.
Love…..No. Matter. What.
I still believe this is a law inscribed into the universe. But I never saw it bear fruit in my “relationship” with Queen. She bit me, growled and glowered at me, right up to the last day of her life. Even as Jonathan slipped her into a carrier for her final visit to Dr. Fantastic, she grimaced up at me with a look that scowled, “Oh, you again,” and “Go bite yourself, Angela,” and “You’re a friggin’ dunderhead.”
There’s part of me that might always fear I failed Queen. If I’d cracked her code, calmed her fury, bled and loved and lasted just a little longer in our daily dance, maybe she’d have let herself be loved.
But then, maybe she did.
Maybe victorious love accepts whatever it gets.
Maybe the love that overcomes the world doesn’t suffer from expectations.
I don’t know what “love” meant in Queen’s emotional vocabulary. I can’t know whether she felt angst and agitation, or if she truly delighted in her bawdy behavior.
But I know, as sure as the law of love, that Queen is complete today. Her strange reign has been embraced into a Kingdom without end, where she will be loved and seen and known as she truly is. There is no fear here, no misunderstanding.
Love is always victorious.
Give our love to the ever-reigning King, wild little Queen.