|SEPARATION OF TWIN SPIRITS. Good-bye my loving feline, Misha. Your devoted human, Hallelujah Truth, November 5, 2011|
Today, my Chiboogamoo and I are diminished by one. Our small nuclear family has lost our beloved feline, Misha. When the character played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie Little Big Man says to his grandfather, “Today is a good day to die,” it is said with courage perhaps tainted by false bravado. PILGRIMS, when our earthly JOURNEY comes to a physical end—what are we to say? Today is a good day to die?
We were with Misha when he died. It was not easy, but he did not suffer—I made sure of this. I have been the shepherd of his daily feedings, combings, and love fests for the past 17 years. As a childless couple, we were well-bonded with our feisty Siamese cat; he fused us together as a family of three with his persistent presence whether it was at our table seated on his chair, curled up in a ball on the couch during movie time, or stretched out between us in bed. Misha was one of us. Yet he had his own distinctive personality!
|FIERCE PLAYING. Misha insisted on playing every evening, and he didn't play "nice." Both Chiboogamoo and I wore wounds from our playful encounters with him.|
He was ferocious, passionate, playful, and loving. He was anything but disinterested for the entirety of our relationship. He and I go back to the early 90s at the start of my English as a Second Language teaching career at Georgia Tech. From the beginning, he was my constant companion, training me to towel him off when I got out of the shower followed with a strong full-body brushing. He taught me to keep a water jar for him on our dining room table, which also serves as my art studio table. Until I understood my painting water jar was going to be his permanent and only drinking glass in the house, he kept me jumping up and down changing water and cleaning the glass as he lapped to his heart’s content. In the last two years of his life, he orchestrated the weekly purchase of fresh chicken that would be served to him at intervals during the day—or he would languish and threaten to die of starvation. In return for my undying care and attention, Misha watched me, followed me, and interpreted my every behavior into some cat philosophy. I am sure I received the best cat treatment accorded to me through his feline beliefs.
|GRADING ASSISTANT. Misha helped me get through reams of endless student papers. His supervision was constant, his judgment flawless.|
ART CRITIC. Misha couldn't restrain himself from making frequent "useful" comments about my artistic endeavors. I was never a lonely studio artist because of his presence.
|NAP SUPERVISOR AND COMPANION. Misha joined me for "cat" naps and was always sure to let me know when we had slept enough. He is thinking it is time for more food!|
|EVER PRESENT. I will miss Misha's companionship.|
The biggest change in our girl-feline shared life was when we came to live with Chiboogamoo. Leaving the Bohemian Little Five Points and heading three miles east down Ponce de Leon Avenue (a major artery in Atlanta), we moved from a top floor apartment behind a pharmacy to a two-story condo in Decatur, a small city I considered the suburbs. Misha now had access to the glorious outdoors, giving him joyous moments of battle with other felines, close observations of avian activities, and constant stair climbing. Chiboogamoo credits this ample exercise, which resulted from his romping between our bed and his food dish with extending his life.
Misha, got his name from Slava Ispolatov, my Russian boyfriend (Chiboogamoo did not come into our lives until 2001). Slava thought our furry little kitten adopted from the Atlanta Humane Society resembled a cuddly little bear, and should be made the namesake of the 1980’s Olympic mascot the year they were held in Moscow. That was the young Misha, a cute little ball of brown fur! Over the years, this growing fur ball challenged many a visitor and temporary caretaker (while I was traveling) with his veritable gruff and wicked temper!
The day grows dark. Tonight our clocks will move an hour back, prolonging my sizeable grief. My loss is immeasurable. There will never again be another Misha. He was undoubtedly one of the most important and continuous relationships in my life. Laugh as you might at this amazing interspecies relationship, but this cat loved me intensely and with unwavering devotion. Everyone, including Misha, knew those feelings were reciprocated. Chiboogamoo earned Misha’s love after two years of their circling around each other, challenging duels, and eventual respect. Daily, they displayed their keen athletic abilities in exciting maneuvers over stools, chairs, and couch ending with a display of claws and teeth and tactical evasion on the biped’s behalf. In winter, we slept in a spooning threesome with me as the fortunate middle. Not a day passed that, upon my return home, I was not greeted by this devoted companion. There he was at the door, reveling in my being home. The day paused during our breathtaking hug, quick snack, and eventual afterwork nap. Often Misha licked my temple with his rough pink tongue!
|MY BOYS: Misha and Chiboogamoo had their own special relationship, communicating in ways so different from the way either related to me. I decided that boys will be boys.|
I did not want Misha to leave. I did not want his life to come to an end. I had hoped for a sign, for a feeling that it was time to help Misha continue onto his next destination. Today? Well, it was a good day for my feline companion to die. The breast tumor that had erupted on his chest at the beginning of summer and was managed until this fifth day of November had grown too large to be neglected. Misha was uncomfortable and could no longer leave this growing piece of flesh alone. He was in pain, and my friends charged me with the responsibility of not letting him suffer.
|REACHING FOR THE LIGHT. In this image, I let Wandjina take Misha from me in order for Misha to begin his journey to the GREAT MYSTERY.|
Today the sun shone so brightly, and the sky allowed itself to be a cerulean blue. Fall temperatures soared into the sixties as the trees sang in riotous color. It was Misha’s day to die, and I was the one responsible for making the call to schedule euthanasia at the vet’s. Chiboogamoo and I cried. Misha was brave. He did not protest being put into the travel cage on top his favorite blanket. He did not utter a cry as we drove away from his second home in 17 years. I think he believed it was a good day to die.
Dear fellow pilgrim, join me in wishing this honorable feline and dear friend good-bye.. And I am left asking, where is my Misha now? Who am I without his physical presence on this earth? For me, it is a good good day to cry.