I wasn’t supposed to get Mr. Fats and Mr. Screams. When I adopted pets for the first time as an adult, I set a rule for myself: no more pets than I can pet at any given time. But long story short, I ended up with two cats who didn’t like each other very much: a girl named Hero, who loved people but not other cats, and a boy named Emil, who wanted a playmate. After a year of cat bickering, I decided to break my rule and get another boy cat for Emil to play with. When I got to the shelter, I was invited to meet two most epicly cute and playful orange kittens. They were littermates–the last two left. There was no way I was separating those two boys. I threw the rules out the window and have never looked back!
We bonded immediately. The first night I brought the boys home, Mr. Screams had the sniffles. I gave him medicine and wiped his nose. At bedtime, I brought them into the bed with me and they snuggled up against my neck. It was heaven. The next morning, I woke up in a mess of kitten vomit. Mr. Screams’ and Mr. Fats’ fur was matted with it, my hair was sticky with it. And the first thing I thought was, “My poor babies!” I’ve never been bothered by the dirty part of being a cat mom.
I was crazy about this guy. I mean, look at him!
Look at that face!
He was my little cuddle bug.
Which meant I had to deal with stuff like this.
And this. Sexy, I know.
Then Chris came into my life. And one of the things that brought us to together was that he loved the boys just as much as I did.
Like, a lot.
And Mr. Screams loved him back.
Like, a lot.
Mr. Screams and Chris had a special relationship. They talked to each other.
While at work…
And at play.
Out of everyone in our not-so-little family, Mr. Screams resembled us the most.
He was a fabulous dresser.
He was a tolerant friend.
He liked to Netflix and chill.
Especially nature films.
He was clever.
He was curious.
He was a homebody.
He was a slut for the belly pets. (Aren’t we all?)
He loved hugs.
Like, a lot.
He was a beautiful, brilliant, bright-eyed weirdo.
And he loved his brother most of all.
He was our baby.
He was present for our most special moments. When Chris somehow made a meteorite fall from the sky into our backyard, I found a data crystal from the future detailing our love and our union. And Mr. Screams made sure to join the party.
On Christmas morning, we buried him in the backyard, in the same spot where the meteorite fell. We built him a pyramid. I still haven’t forgiven myself for allowing this to happen. He deserved so much better. He deserved so much more. I feel helpless, and not yet ready to say goodbye. But we have to.
So here it goes… Goodbye, Mr. Screams, our baby, our love. We will always miss you.
Ode to Mr. Screams
The first night I slept at her house
you were there, leaning against my toes.
When you saw her love unfolding,
you opened your soft belly to my touch.
In our new house, you screamed
at the cue of my sneezing
and taught us how to speak
a private language.
You brought us close, and poked
your nose into our theatrical engagement.
You were always in our business,
infinite and everywhere, commanding
attention like a 10-pound,
co-dependent Pharoah. How
could you be dead? How
could we have failed you?
This common human feeling I’m feeling.
Trying to recreate your box-inhabiting,
feather-chasing energy–what’s the point?
Instagram records your charms better
than I can here. The way you’d swat
arugula from the salad bowl
or burst through the cat door like Kramer.
The rain cloud over my head
is endless, as I hold my sobbing lover,
the two of us stroking Mr. Fats, your genuine
and lumbering brother, who now has no one
to bathe him back, Mr. Fats who was out in the road
at your side, trying to help you, while we
were so casually zonked from fire-wine,
dreaming of sugar-plums. The endless
rain will leave us someday, and float
over other heads, and you, or your skeleton,
or the atoms that moved with you for a time,
will vibrate under the pyramid of mossy bricks
we built in the backyard at dawn
on Christmas morning
in the very spot I proposed
over a smoking meteorite.
And it’s not that I won’t be sad then,
it’s not that I’ll be finished grieving.
My grief will be quiet, curled up on my chest,
heavier than a brick pyramid, purring.