Almost two weeks ago, my cat--who I adopted when she was a kitten--passed away, which is why I've been fairly absent from the majority of my online life. Twitter has quieted, blog posts have gone unwritten, books from the Harper Voyager stack have gone unread, and Facebook--my fan page--has been almost entirely ignored. Nanashi was my rock, my daughter, my second-in-command, and my sister-in-all-devious-deeds.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about her in some way. I managed to not cry for about six days. Almost a whole week...then tonight, for some reason, I kept picturing her...and I broke down. When my boyfriend leaves for work, I hold her ashes in the little tin can I was given, and I cry. And I think of her. I think of the life she led, of what we did for her, and how much we managed to give her before we had to put her to sleep. I think of her attitude, of her cuddly nature, of her barks--yup, she barked--of her meows, of how she begged for food. She just...was such an enormous part of my life. And now she's gone.
It's sort of stunning.
Nanashi was named for a character from Gundam Wing, which was my favorite anime when I adopted her. I named her for Trowa Barton, whose name, in the manga, was Nanashi (No Name). He represented a lot of me, a lot of who I was at the time we adopted her...and the name stuck. I adopted Nanashi in seventh grade, so about, oh 12 years ago. She was 4 months old, and she already showed major signs of illness. In the first two weeks of us owning her, she became severely ill and was diagnosed with herpes of the eye (a kind only cats can get). My parents considered returning her, but I refused. I remember staring at her through the bars of a cage at the local vet hospital after just getting her, her little leg wrapped up with an IV drip, and how she looked at me. How the vets explained that she had gone almost completely blind. She could still see, but they suggested we take her back and get another kitten.
Those words...they hit me so hard. After her, how could I ever want another kitten? She was rambunctious, in-your-face, always there. She'd jump on your back if you took too long to feed her, and she gazed with wonder at the world. All the way until she was put to sleep twelve years later. The last day I held her as we took her to the vet to euthanize her, and she kept careening her head around, trying to take everything in on the car ride there. She nested her head against my cheek as I cried, and she still just...seemed so full of wonder, so amazed at the world around her, at the snow, and the road, and the people. She couldn't move much, but she was in love with discovery.
Many friends of mine knew her, loved her, played with her, and became involved in our lives. And many of those friends have moved on to better lives and better things. Boyfriends knew her. My father played with her (this is a rare thing, mind you; he never plays with our other cat, Midnight), and she comforted my mother. Yeah, she had a bold and wild streak. If you let her outside without a leash, she was gone. If you played with her, she'd play back, and sometimes she'd claw or bite, but never out of spite.
Every birthday or Christmas, she would play with wrapping paper while I wrapped, or my mother, or sister. She'd lie in the sun, stretch out as far as she could, meow, and wiggle, demanding what we fondly called "oreo". This wasn't a cookie! She was a tuxedo kitty, and she loved, loved, loved to have her tummy rubbed, almost like a puppy! So she'd stretch out and meow, demanding oreo! And we'd, of course, rub her tummy until she jumped up and walked away.
Nanashi was never seen with her tail down--at least, not until the end. She'd always trot around, perky, happy, her tail up in the air, winning her the nickname (from my father) "Scorpy-butt". Gosh, I miss her...
I thought that she was doing all right. No one really told me otherwise, because we lost 5 people last year, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, and some other things came up. I was having a hard year, and my mom admitted to me that she felt if I lost Nanashi, I might not recover.
I found out a few days before she died that she had been walking around with her tail down, that she had troubles moving, and refused to eat. When I came down, she walked. She lifted her tail, and she ate. She ate a lot, and I couldn't see what everyone was so upset about... But then...as she waned, I saw. I saw that she had done all of that, had forced herself to walk and to move and to eat (even though her digestive system had ceased functioning) to make me happy, because she was happy that I was there.
My mother says she was in pain, and I hate the thought of her being in pain. I remember how she looked into my eyes just before they took her away to give her the catheter... And I remember how the light finally went our of her eyes. I remember waiting so impatiently for her ashes, crying every day until I had them...
Somehow, holding her ashes helps. Maybe it's grim. I don't care. I can almost feel some sort of magnetic force in them, and maybe it sounds dumb, and maybe it's just how much I've projected my loss onto her remains, but I still feel her, in some ways. I can't stop thinking of her, and I know it will take a long time to move on.
This little tin can is all I have left, other than memories and photos, but because of that, it's all the more precious to me. I'll always love my little ninja, and I'll always remember her, even when I'm old and tired.