Merry Christmas From Stanley, originally uploaded by Life in the Pumpkin Shell.
We are very sad these days. Our beloved pain in the ass His Majesty Stan the cat had to be put to sleep on December 2nd.
He was my best animal friend. I've had pets all my life. Stan was the one who controlled me with his mind and bended me to his will like a slave unaware of her chains. I wept on several occasions when he went missing. I wept again when he returned home, stunned and annoyed and curious as to why I seemed so emotional. I tracked and rescued dozens of his undead kill. I laughed my ass off on the days the birds of the yard swooped him as he took his constitutional (until the day he put up a well timed paw and brought one of the creatures down like King Kong on top the Empire State building)...
When he was a kitten, young and sweet and adorable, he would sit on my lap in the car, or get bored and then ride on my shoulders as I drove.
In recent months, he has followed me around the house for minutes (cat hours) waiting for me to sit so that he could fluffen up my lap and lie there comfortably for his early nap.
I met Stan in the summer of 1999. I was working second shift on the line at a factory to earn money for grad school. After dinner that day, I rushed back through the outside break area, hoping to catch the bell on time, and I noticed some women giving a kitten milk from the vending machines. "He was here two days ago and so-n-so took him home, but she can't keep him. I hope someone can keep him," is all I heard.
My boss asked me to work overtime as soon as I got back to the line, so at 2 am I was finally off work, tired, looking for someone to give me a cigarette, and I found that another tenderhearted woman had taken over the concern for the kitten in the box by the break room door. "He's so little. I hate for him to have to sit out here in this box all night..." she said to me.
Sucker that I have always been, I made eye contact with him (and I tried so very hard not to) and that was it.
"I'll take him."
He rode in my lap the entire drive home, and he slept on my chest that night, licking my chin.
Tom named him the next day.
And then a thousand other stories happened with Stan as the main character.
That choice to say, "I'll take him," has always been too easy to make for me. You'd think by now I'd remember how it feels to say goodbye, but I don't seem to have the self protective mechanism to deny two sad abandoned eyes.
I've insisted on no more cats this time, though. My foot has been put down. It's too hard.
We'll probably have a couple kittens soon enough, consequently. That's how it goes.
I will never ever forget Stanley, though. My cat through two pregnancies, lots and lots of worry and stress and growing up. His eyes saw a lot of things. All of our dear friends had excellent laps, he felt. Stan had his favorites. Laps he'd quickly abandon mine to grace. I always knew when he took another lap, then casually looked my way, what he was really saying was, "This lap is much nicer than yours," but what I deluded myself into believing was that he was giving me his approval of that gift of that lap. Like the half dead rodents he presented to me over the years, my friends were similarly presented to him, and he enjoyed them much more than I enjoyed his terrified creatures. (They are all rejoicing, by the way.)
Last night I saw the spot where I used to fill his food bowl so often in my sleep (Tom cleared the bowl away, but the habit is still strong) and I thought I saw Stan. I still think I see him. I think the scratching on the door is his, his, "LET ME IN!" pissed off way he had, but then I'll look at the door, see beyond the screen down by the garden and know he's under the ground and gone.
Of course, a few times I've watched long enough to reassure myself he's not coming back up from his grave as a zombie. That's just like something he would do to me. He was a cat who never seemed to be stopped by life.
I will miss him terribly.
STAN PHOTOS on FLICKR
All the Stanley Stories on Life in the Pumpkin Shell
From a recent story about Jack (which made me have to go change up the laundry and blow my nose into a clean towel after I bawled for ten minutes) ...
"You looked tired. Are you tired?"
"I think so."
"Did you sleep all right last night?"
"No. I had bad dreams."
"What can we do to stop that?"
"Hmmm. Where's Stanley?"
Jack is now asleep, his arm around the happy cat.