My wonderful cat Patrick passed away a year ago today.
I look at Patrick's Catster webpage almost every day. I look at how many views it's had since the previous day and if any more Catster members have corralled it. I read the diary entry "the long road," about Patrick's last day on Earth. I pore over and scrutinize every detail, incessantly probing the same words over and over in search of a different outcome to his story.
I read the final diary entry "A Message From Patrick's Mom," the parts about knowing that you are loved, and loved well. I try to imagine what it's like for people reading it for the first time, and I wonder if they're moved by what they read. I wonder if they feel loved after reading it. I try to feel loved myself. I usually don't.
I look at Patrick's pictures on his webpage. Sometimes I kiss my fingers and touch them to where his head is on my monitor. I'll say "Hi Cupcake," or "Miss you, sweetie," or "Love you, Little Guy." I look at all his pictures there and try to make them come alive in my mind. I try to get a sense of him being alive again here with me, but I sense nothing, just emptiness. I find myself staring at his pictures and not even seeing them, my mind having wandered away. I find myself thinking instead of the vet clinic building awash in the afternoon sun on a day vibrant and full of promise, because although sick, Patrick was still alive then. I find myself thinking instead of the long weekly drive across town through fresh breezy sunshine to the hushed and cool haven of the vet clinic, and each time never knowing if he would survive to come home again with me that day.
And I find myself thinking of Patrick on that final day in the vet clinic lying on the exam table, facing the wall, quiet and still, barely tethered to life. I think about wanting him just to keep on breathing peacefully like that forever, but of course he doesn't. He breathes his last frail breath and slips away from life on Earth; simply, with a final breath, he's gone. And I turn to look again at every picture on his webpage, and there he is; and as soon as I close my browser, he's gone, so easily and effortlessly gone. And I'm left here to look for meaning in what little remains of something so fragile and so tenuous that it's gone with the click of a mouse or the release of a breath.
Over and over I look for meaning in these things, but I find nothing. Just emptiness.