A few nights ago, my x-cat Sponge died and joined his brother Gary up in cat heaven. I posted about Gary and his brother Sponge here, two years ago when Gary died. I’m glad I did, because I don’t want to forget anything about those glorious “gentlemen”, and how I felt then and now, painful as it is.
They were my first cats I had as an adult, and helped me through some awful times: the death of my mom, the death of my marriage, the death of my fibroids and appendix, and the death of my life behind the wheel (bad DUI). As much as I LOVE LOVE LOVE my girls Cutie Pie and The Rocket, my bond with these boys was more profound.
When I got the email about Sponge’s death, I lost it. Crying is hard for me, given the barrier behind my eyes courtesy of Wellbutrin and Lexapro, but cry I did for about an hour. Sponge breached the dam.
A little bit about The Sponge. My ex-husband and I met him, and his brother, in a crumbling craftsman kitty-corner from a crack house in South Berkeley.
I had my heart set on adopting a black kitten that I would name “Gary” after SpongeBob’s pet snail, and such a cat was being fostered in Berkeley through the Milo Foundation. We submitted our application, and set up an appointment to meet this boy the following week.
While we met “future Gary”, we were captivated by his foster-mates dubbed “The Glimmer Twins”, aka Jagger (short fur) and Richards (long fur), mini marmalade boys that climbed up Rod’s pant leg and wouldn’t let go. We drove them home in their cardboard carrier, swung by Pets Unlimited to buy doubles of cat supplies, and brought them home.
As much as I love the Stones, the names had to go. Jagger became Gary; Richards became Sponge, on account of his more fury, sponge-like appearance and feel.
Sponge felt right. Sponge stuck.
This is where the Larry David part of the story comes in.
I haven’t lived with Sponge in 6 years, as he lives with his dad, my ex-husband.
The night he died, I posted a bunch of Sponge shots on Facebook, as I needed to do something and as much as I hate to admit it, I needed some social love.
As I had hoped, condolences came in, especially from friends who’d met Sponge (and Gary), and knew how much I loved them, even if I hadn’t seen the Sponge in years.
But there was also the outpouring of “so sorry for your loss” from those who don’t know Sponge didn’t live with me; this happened even more in person, when I ran into friends in the real world. I felt the need to caveat: “Thanks so much, I’m so sad. But just so you know, Sponge is not one of my current cats, he is my ex-cat who has lived with his dad for the past seven years…” or “Thank you, uh, yeah, and no, my current cats Cutie Pie and The Rocket are fine, it’s my ex-cat who died…”
I feel guilty that my loss isn’t as profound as those whose pet died that lived with them.
So many friends have lost beloved pets in the past few months. Devastating losses. And I know my grief is different: I’m not waking up to a Sponge-less house. I mean I am, but the house has been Spongeless for a long time. Is my grief less important? Is my grief any less real? Am I grief worthy?
All I know is that Sponge’s passing kicked me in the heart, and when I think about him, look at photos of him, write about him, I tear-up. He is gone. The Glimmer twins are gone. A big part of my life is gone. My last connection to my ex-husband is gone.
I’m not religious. But at times like this, it helps me to hope that my beloved boys are up in cat heaven, reunited. I know that Gary was waiting for Sponge with open paws. I know they are wrapped around each other. I know they are at peace.
To my friends out there, especially Ann and Leslie who recently lost beloved pets, I hope you are doing okay. I suppose the more we love, the more we grieve. It’s twisted, but worth it. Well fucking worth it.
RIP Sponge. xoxo
All photos in this post by Rod Kilpatrick.