Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Far Field

I had thought I would be posting on the lead-up to Boston, and be more excited with attaining our IFOPA goal amount already. Yet something has happened that for the moment has suspended any joy I can feel, and I am the worst actor to never have stepped on the stage.


On March 10 we visited Pet Helpers on James Island to look to adopt a new cat. It seemed like a good time, with Lexie getting older but still somewhat active. Being near my birthday, I was ready to bring another pet into our house.

We thought we'd look for a little older animal so it would not be too playful with Lexie and not too small so Baxter (our dog) might accidentally hurt it. After visiting all of the rooms we came back to the "Kitty Condos" where newer cats have individual spaces before they are placed into the larger rooms with the established cats. I understand the staff slowly introduces new arrivals to the other colonies to see which one will be the best fit for all.

When the staff helper opened the door to this particular cat, he climbed out and onto my shoulders. I immediately bonded and knew this was The One. We took him to a small playroom to get to know him better, and things just got better from there. I batted a small ball toward him, and he batted straight back at me. I tried some different angles and he never just hit it, but directly back to me. Jennifer seemed smitten by his kitten playfulness.

Yes, we'll take him.

He was 10 months old at the time, birthday from previous owner was given as May, 1012.


Our new kitty was stunningly beautiful. Dark gold eyes to be almost orange. Long, slinky body and a pelt of deep black fur, with a brilliant sheen and silky texture. When he trotted he moved with the ease of a tiger, and when he ran it was with paws forward and wild abandon.

It only took a few days to introduce him to Lexie and Baxter, and over the next couple of weeks the stranger came into his own with lively antics that brought so much entertainment and joy to us all. From his long slides across the floors to his love of climbing on the cat towers he never ceased to make us smile.

When he played with you he never extended his claws or bit hard, just gentle swipes of his big paws and soft love nips. Often he would come up and extend a paw to your leg and look up. For the first time in a long time he was a cat that wanted to be held and only made the slightest motion when he wanted to be let down. He often looks at the ceiling; we think he recalls the high cat walks at the shelter.

I loved to see how quickly Jennifer and he made friends, they were fast pals and he often chose her lap to call his home, even with Baxter nearby. Jennifer arranged the patio so it was more enticing to him, and he spent long hours there, enjoying the wildlife tv playing in the backyard. My one fear was he would somehow get outside as he seemed to really want to explore his new country.

He was now 11 months old, so mature yet so still full of youth's immortality.


When I get home from work I feed the pets before I run. All of them usually greet me, Baxter with a sweet hello howl and Lexie comes to her pantry bowls. This day only those two showed up, no sign of Mr. Entertainment. Jennifer thought he was on the patio and I felt a pang...had he gotten out?

If only.

I found our sweet boy curled up under the cat tower there, slow to move and no interest in coming to see me. He had apparently been sick all day judging from what we had to clean up. After a short discussion I drove to the emergency vet with one very ill kitty.


The vet did an initial exam and it disclosed our kitty had a temperature of 105.5o. We decided it was best for him to be hospitalized overnight where he could receive whatever care he needed, and then we would see about a possible abdominal scan in the morning as something was desperately wrong. In my mind I was hoping perhaps an infection that could be treated, or maybe a food reaction. Possibly even a spider bite, as I killed a black widow near where I found him sick.

Early the next morning I called as I needed to work a half day and one plan was to take our boy to the regular vet if he was showing signs of recovery. The next words from the emergency vet stopped my power of speech. You cat may have...or...and there is no treatment for either one. End of life options given. Yes, I would come to be with him. I have to do this. I do not want to do this. I must do this.

Jennifer and I email and text and she takes care of the arrangements. I am in a fog, attend a meeting where I manage not to lose it, and make the long, long drive to the vet. I think if I drive slow he will be with us a little longer, but if I don't get there soon he will linger in terrible pain.


They bring our sweet beautiful boy wrapped in a towel to me and leave us to our parting. Strong pain drugs have been administered and I cannot tell if he knows who I am. He is irritated at the catheter in his right leg and tries to bite it out. The pain in my heart swells as waves of grief take me under only to let me rise for a breath now and then drags me down into the depths again.

He wants down and explores the exam room, often looking up at the ceiling. After a few minutes I wrap him in the towel and let him look out the high window into the trees beyond and he relaxes a bit...I whisper words to him, feeling his soft fur on my cheek and not believing what is about to happen.

As he lies in my lap we send him out if this life and into whatever awaits us. I say this again and again with all that I am, I want no heaven that does not include our pets. Thanks but no thanks. If I could go with you I would. This pain is too great.

I look into the side of his face, his golden eye is open. I am lost. How can this be. Just weeks, not the years of joy we were looking forward to with this perfect little kitty.

Give him back to us.


Home is very quiet now. I long to call out his name, to feel him lying on my lap, see him playing with Jennifer oh so gently with those big soft paws. I have attached his name to us all. Lex Pablo. Bax Pablo. Jen Pablo. Ricardo Pablo.

Come home with us.


When I was in high school I drew this picture, pen and ink on paper. The tree was from a how-to book on drawing; I added the hills beyond. I gave this as a gift to my parents, and my mother has it to this day.

When I see an animal lying in the road, unfortunate to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, I transport it in my mind to this meadow. There is a stream nearby and many far fields full of others who take him in, a place where pain is unknown and fear and suffering are banished forever.

I learned not to fear infinity,
The far field, the windy cliffs of forever,
The dying of time in the white light of tomorrow,
The wheel turning away from itself,
The sprawl of the wave,
The on-coming water.

- Theodore Roethke

I did not want to send our sweet boy here, but late last night I awoke and missed him so much. We traveled to the far bridge, and I introduced him to Snickers, Kiki, Little, Cutie, and many, many others.


The pain goes with me. It is all we have now. I don't want to stop hurting because it is all I have to remember him so close to us. It is the strength of the love we felt, that cannot be broken and cannot end.

Until we come home to you, you will be missed...

Don Pablo


  1. I had missed this and just read it from today's blog post link. :'(

  2. I am hoping he will use one of his nine lives to visit us again. Someday.