REST IN PEACE, CLIFFORD.
I had to say goodbye this weekend to my dear cat Clifford — the king of all cats, heart of my heart, coolest of the cool, best of the best, friend to the whole world — who had finally, after a life that was both deeply noble and entirely absurd, reached his end.
We haz sad.
Clifford came to us nearly six years ago from the animal shelter, by way of a supermarket parking lot, where he had been found wandering hungry. He has certainly never been hungry since, as you can see by his comfortable girth in this photo. We never had the first idea how old he was, or anything about his backstory. I only know that chose him above all others at the shelter because of his giant Falstaffian belly, because of his slightly drunken-looking face (not a day has passed that I don’t laugh whenever I lay eyes on him), because of his purr (the loudest I have ever heard), but mostly because the way he fitted himself deeply into my arms the moment I picked him up. Saturday night, I held him in my arms again while he floated off peacefully.
While it was clearly Clifford's time to go (as I joked in tears to a friend, "What kind of unfair God would pluck a geriatric, diabetic, toothless animal with arthritic legs and increasing incontinence right from the prime of his life?") it is still heartbreaking. We love our furry-headed friends in a way that is different, more inexplicable, and more tender than other kinds of love, and when they go, it makes us ache to our core.
But here is what I keep thinking. I met a monk once in India who told me that one of the karmic roles of our beloved pets ("part of their service," he said) is to come into our lives as teachers. They are sent here not only to teach us how to love, but also to teach us how to die — because they do it so well, and so uncomplainingly. We need these lessons, you see, because we are so famously bad at death, we humans. We are so afraid of it, so angry at it, so resistant to it. But our furry-heads, they see death differently. And as they slip away from us, they try to show us, "Watch me do this: It's really not that difficult. You just have to let go…"
Thank you, Clifford. You did great. I watched carefully. I tried to learn. I will always love you. There will never be another like you.