Update: Mocha has been located. Move along, now. Nothing to see here.
I don’t understand. I should be inspired. This should be my best work. I should be able to leap from buildingtops and come down with written masterpieces—where is that? Instead I feel frozen, fixed in my seat with nothing to say.
I remember when my last cat died. Pixie—I was really young, but I still envision her as everything cats should be; all other cats are judged and compared and condemned with Pixie as a reference point. I even called Mocha by Pixie’s name on accident, every once in a while. I recall stalling, ten years ago, my uncomfortable baby blue polo and starchy navy shorts huddling against her unknowing cat body on the bathroom floor, and my eyes welling up and spilling over. That was the only day my mom ever permitted me to be late for school—the morning Pixie was to be injected.
That’s still one of my most vivid memories, and it was then the only time I’d experienced what it means to lose a pet. It’s not like a person—with a person, you’re allowed to grieve. You’re drowned in sympathy and empathy from other people. With a pet, there’s none of that. You carry on where you left off. You don’t cry in class. You don’t cry the next day, because it’s only a pet and pets aren’t people. And it’s a secret that only every pet owner in history knows that none of that is true.
When Pixie died I knew it. I knew that when I came back from school there would be no ball of black and white fur covering in some evil way every seat of the couch. That was devastating, but I understood it. When there’s a phone call and I’m told that Mocha is lost, clawless, and less capable in the wild than Darwin from The Wild Thornberrys, well, I don’t buy it. It’s not real, because there’s no huddled goodbye in a bathroom, because I don’t have my uncomfortable baby blue polos anymore, because it’s impossible for things to be beyond my control. And so my denial is vicious and merciless. Underneath that, a thin film of acceptance, which just completely ruins that denial. It makes an ugly, consciously tainted image that, if I just don’t ever think about it, everything will be the same as it was and Mocha will be sleeping in a peaceful circle of cat fur on my parents’ bed when I come home for Thanksgiving. I can’t help myself from thinking that way, if it’s true or not.
I’d like it to hit me. Not that I want or like to be hurt. But I want to feel it, at least, just so to wake me up. I don’t like that I haven’t exploded, that I feel frozen, instead. But of course that’s because nothing happened to Mocha. Nothing, goddammit.