Noblesse Oblige

A medallion of liverwurst, a dish of warm milk.  Even these, you hardly wanted in the end.  You looked at the water in your bowl as if it were a stranger to you.  No more did you come to the kitchen at the sound of a can being opened, the clinking of dry food against a metal bowl.

You no longer padded across the tile floor when I returned home from a long day in the kitchen to lick specks of meat, brie, basil oil and rich sauce from the hems of my black pants, no longer bit at the insides of my forearms, pleased to find the savory residue of grill-smoke on my skin.  No more did you come to the top of the driveway to greet my wife and I when we came home from out there, collapsing at our feet, turning your shaggy white belly toward the sky, wriggling in the sun.

Your obligation to nobility became instead a meditation on the blurry line dividing the broken from the unbreakable.

And then there is the oddity of the final judgment placed upon you, and the cold twist that it was I myself who must play the judge: that an injection should guide you into sleep to leave behind all suffering, to leave behind the body of being.  To leave behind the limping legs, the racing heart, the trembling flesh.  To be placed in a cremation chamber with other cats, from other houses in other neighborhoods, altered to shards of bone in less than an hour, along with these others who, like you, also knew as much about how to say goodbye as I do myself, which is to say not very well at all.

Not that it matters what form of goodbye was chosen.  Nothing can change the fact that we left the house together that day, and that I returned alone with an empty carrying case.

So it is now – now that a rift of linear time between two worlds has come between us, now that the swinging door between two dimensions has fallen still again upon its permeable hinges – it is now, my small friend, that I slide back from the table in my creaking chair and swirl the wine in my glass, then push the glass aside and drink straight from the bottle in your honor, smiling at the memory of the white mane that gave you the look of a lion in miniature.

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