View Full Version : Linus's Blanket (by request from Candy)

05-23-2010, 05:42 PM
This is a labor of love. A true story, and an attempt at my mission of being a super-hero. I hope you enjoy. I know it needs editing I'm sure for grammatical errors, but I wrote it in a more simplistic fashion as to reach as large a range of readers as possible.

Linus’s Blanket:
A True Story of Love Across the Universe, Through All Space and Eternity
By E. K. Black

This book is dedicated to:
Sheila: for giving me Linus

Laurie: for bringing Linus home

“Auntie” Gail: for adopting us, and offering endless help.

My dearest husband Wally: for believing in me, and loving me.

Dr. Lindstrom and the employees of Hometowne Animal Hospital: for always doing their best and knowing just how very special Linus really was.

Everyone at www.thedarktower.org and www.petlovers.com who have been part of my family for years now.

Linda who was the first to support me in writing the book.

And, last but not least, my family for always loving and supporting me, despite (or because) of me.

To start with, I have a confession to make. Perhaps an admission or an acknowledgment? Maybe declaration is a better word. An announcement? Well, anyways, I must make my profession.
Yes, I am one of those “weird people” who love cats. You could probably tell by reading the back of the book, or looking at the striking picture of the cat on the cover, but if you hadn’t figured that out already, I’m letting you know that right here.
I am a cat-lover. I’ve always been that way. It is as much a part of me, as the hair on my body, as the skin on my bones. People who love cats, will understand this memoir, and people who don’t, well hopefully they will enjoy the rants and celebrations of a “Crazy Cat Lady”. And for those not quite yet convinced, perhaps it will sway their hearts.
I have had many cats come in my life. Starting out with a Manx cat named Cactus - my mother’s - who swayed me over to the dark side. To the world of loving all these cats. Influenced by a sedate Himalayan we gently named Prince Silver Paws, a tuxedo colored Domestic Short Hair named Figaro (after the cat in Pinocchio), a gift of grace that was a cream-colored Persian - inappropriately or inappropriately depending on your opinion - pre-named Kami Kazi, and other cats that had fleeting stops into my life that still left their paw prints on my heart. Kitty, Lobelia, Luna, Jimminy “Monkeybrains” Cricket, J-Lo, George, Jynx, Nona, Holly, Dante, Velcro, and many many more.
This book however, is about Linus, how he came into my life, and how he changed my life, and how he changed me.
Linus came into my life as love usually does. Unexpectedly. Unplanned. And he caught me unprepared. Unprepared for how much I would love him and inevitably need him. How much he would give me and teach me about myself and to teach me about who I truly wanted to be.
Who do I want to be? Well to be perfectly honest, there’s lots of things I want to be.
I want to:

do anything for those that I love, even when I’m tired.
be the person who enjoy gifts, who relishes food, and good music.
not get mad easily.
not take things personally.
help others with mundane tasks.
know how to fix arguments without getting hurt.
play even when I’m tired.
be forgiving.
love moving.
love car rides.
be comforting to those who are hurting.
not be picky about what they are given.
endlessly adore others of my own kind, and other kinds, or at least try to.
never sweat the small stuff, because I can’t even comprehend the small stuff.
love help.
know when my friends are hurting and find a way to make them better, even if it’s just a smirk to squeak out of them.
always appreciate new jewelry, even if it means I don‘t get something else I‘d rather have - like another cat.
be someone that isn’t afraid of going to the doctor.
listen to my mama, even when I don’t feel like it.
and I want to be someone who is exceedingly patient and endlessly kind.

Or in other words, I want to be like Linus, and I want to be like love.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves." -- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

September 23rd, of the year 2000, Linus came into my life. I was 18 years old and truly needed to learn a lot about life and myself. Linus helped me do that. Oddly enough, after he passed away, I found some interesting information. There was a Saint Linus. He was one of the first popes - the first according to some people, since some people don’t count Saint Peter as a pope. And his feast day was September 23rd. I like to find patterns in the world that help convince me that there is something beside this plane of existence. That's a pretty strong piece of evidence, for me. It's too strange to be a coincidence.
I don’t know what officially Saint Linus was a patron saint of, if anything, but My Linus was the Patron Saint of Liz.
My faith was strong but it needed proof. So God sent me Linus. I am significantly better now having known and loved him. I believe that you really do become a better person after truly loving someone. And having someone truly love you back, well that makes it even that much better.
Yes, this is a book where the cat dies. If you can‘t handle reading about it, I understand, but please pass it on to someone who may enjoy it or be able to learn from it. Or read the whole book up until I warn you to stop. If you can make it through it, thank you very much for it. There is a purpose. And I think his life was just far too beautiful not to share with others. He was my joy, and to not share joy, well I think that must be a sin. I write this also, because I know I can’t forget him. I must write everything down so I don’t forget. For, if I ever forget you, Linus, I will have forgotten myself.

Chapter 1: Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
When I was 18, I moved from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan down to Mississippi to my Aunt and Uncle’s farm. (Actually to be perfectly honest, they weren’t honestly my aunt and uncle; they were cousins, but they were so much older than me, I called them my Aunt and Uncle.) It was just supposed to be for the summer, and I ran out of money, and ended up staying for almost two years. I had a lot of growing up to do. Linus was a part of that.
Linus did not start out as the love of my life. As I previously mentioned, Linus came into my life unexpectedly. I had volunteered at an animal shelter in Mississippi, and fallen in love with a black and white kitten who I named Jimminy “Monkeybrains” Cricket. He would leap from the rabbit cages at the shelter onto my shoulder ever morning and rub his face against mine and purr as much as his poor sick malnourished body could handle. Perched like a monkey on my shoulder, for three months he would help me feed and water the other cats and change their litter pans. Cricket looked much like the cat Figaro we had growing up, so I gave him a similar name from the movie Pinocchio. Especially with his tiny legs, big belly and enormous bat like ears, he looked like a cricket. He was about 6 months old, but he was as small as a 3 month old kitten because of his bad start. And I loved the waif.
The odds were not good on Cricket getting a home. 90-98% of the animals at that shelter were euthanized. Hardly anyone vaccinated their animals where I lived, so once they got to the shelter, it was bad news. It was like a third world country at the shelter. If one animal got sick, it spread like wildfire through the shelter. And I knew Cricket was sick, but I loved him. One day, one of the ladies on the committee came by to take one picture of one of the kittens to put up for adoption, in hopes that someone would adopt one of the kittens. She would not touch any of the cats, and she wore silk gloves as she walked about with her nose in the air. When I suggested Cricket, she informed me that no one would ever want to adopt such an ugly cat.
Every single day I went there, I prayed that he was adopted, and I prayed that he wasn’t, because it would break my heart too much to lose him. With Cricket, I realized an instant bond I have not since experienced. He loved me at first sight. One week I wasn’t able to go there, and when I came in, I prayed that he had been found a home at the same time I was praying that he was still there. He was still there, and I could tell he was weak. Riding home in Amanda’s purple truck, Louis Armstrong’s song, “What a Wonderful World” played and I sobbed at the bitterness of it all. A cat that sweet should not have had to die.
A few weeks later, the lady who was working there had to put to sleep 42-45 kittens, because of Feline Leukemia, FIP, and FIV, along with other diseases that had infested the cat house. Regardless, she called up my Aunt Laurie to pick Cricket up. I had no clue what was going on. I had gone out to the muck the stalls at Aunt Laurie’s house and was coming in for breakfast. Laurie came in with a strange cardboard box.
I must confess that there are a few moments in my life when my brain does not process anything at all. It just stops working. No new information is entered. It goes into stand-by mode. (I like to think that other people have these moments, but maybe it’s just me.) When she brought that box in, I should have processed there were peep holes. I should have processed that there was probably something living in it. But even if I had done that, I would not have processed that the animal was for me. My brain had completely shut down, and I just stared at the box.
“This is from Sheila at the shelter.” Laurie told me.
I just stared at the box.
My brain still wasn’t processing.
I must have sat there for a minute or two before my brain starting churning enough to realize that I was meant to open the box.
I opened the box.
Opening the box, my little Monkey boy leaped onto my shoulders with an overwhelming look of joy on his little furry face. He instantly began purring his strange disjointed purr, sounding like a broken motor on a car, or perhaps one with transmission issues or a clogged fuel pump.
“Monkey!!!!!!!!!” I screamed, as tears erupted from my tear ducts and he frantically purred with joy.
“You can keep him,” Aunt Laurie said, “but you have to rename him. You can’t call him Monkey.”
Well Monkey, and Monkeybrains was just his nickname, because that is what he was. He perched on my shoulder like a monkey.
“But how?” I asked.
“Sheila said you had to have him. She said if he had a chance of surviving at all it would be because of you.”
I’d like to say that Cricket’s life had a happy ending, that he was healed of all of his diseases and that I still have him. The truth is that I was only able to give him a home for 8 days before he came down with pneumonia. Laurie took him in that same box to the veterinarian’s office while I went to muck out the horse stalls.
When she came home with the box again, all I could think about was my little monkey. I frantically appeared to open the box to see how my baby was doing, and I couldn’t process what Aunt Laurie was saying at first or her down-hearted caste. She was rambling something about “not able to save him”.
“Wa wa wa bla bla bla,” is what I was really hearing.
My brain was fixated on seeing my little tuxedo kitten. Instead, when I opened the box, a horrible hissing thing - that turned out to be a kitten - was hiding in the corner of the box. I couldn’t process what she was saying at first, but when I did, it sank in with deep disappointment and a new responsibility. I always wanted a cat, and always have room in my heart - if not in my home - for another cat, but I didn’t want this kitten. I wanted Cricket. But since he was there, I would have to take care of him, I realized.
“He’s going to take care of you. But first you have to get all your bedding to be cleaned.”
What? How was he going to take care of me? Cricket was supposed to take care of me. How could a new animal do what Cricket had done for me? How was this possible?
She explained that Cricket was too far gone, and that she had had him euthanized. She had not given me the choice, and that is something I will always regret. I wanted to be there for him. I wanted to be able to bury him. She didn’t allow me that either. She had thought it was too dangerous to bury him on her ranch, due to the diseases he probably was infested with.
But now I had a new problem. “Sheila thought you needed a project. And she picked one out that wasn’t colored like any of your other kitties.”
Sheila had wanted to pick out something that would have no color association with any of those I had loved and lost. She wanted something new. So I had this weird tan accented white cat here with big blue eyes, but that still begged the question of why she had given me this kitten? Cricket had been a bundle of joy and love. This kitten, well, this kitten was wild!
Grief-stricken, and in shock, I went through the motions of taking care of this kitten. Cleaning as much as possible, just in case whatever Cricket had could be given to this cat. Then, I decided I needed to tame him. He was absolutely terrified of hands. Every time you would reach for him, he thought you were attacking him and would swipe and hiss at you. How did I tame him? Well, I’d like to say that I did it gradually like they tell you to do it in the books, but I didn’t have the patience for it, and I was hurting too bad, and the kitten was too annoying. How I tamed him, was I just literally didn’t put him down for three days other than to sleep. And when I slept, in those brief intervals, he slept closed up in the bedroom with me. When I went out to take care of the horses, I tucked him into my coat so he had to be in contact with me. I would stroke him when he started hissing in there. I just literally put my hands or body on him as much as possible.
I think it was the second day he was home, I heard Pearl Jam’s “Last Kiss” on the radio and broke into tears. I couldn’t stop crying. This kitten came over and as I was crying began to chew on my feet. He did not stop chewing on my feet until I stopped crying and I petted him. It was in that moment that I knew that I loved him. Even though I didn’t want to. I did love him and this was the start of his journey. He was trying to stop me from crying by being silly. In that way, he was a lot like his mom. His mom, being me. The cat who brought him into this world was just a foster mom, an egg donor if you will. I was the one to truly become his mother.
I had kept in my mind what Laurie had said. “He’s going to take care of you.” So I named him Linus, after Linus van Pelt from the Peanuts cartoons. He had always been my favorite character from that particular comic strip. He was Linus, and I was his blue blanket. He would take care of his blue blanket and take it no matter where he went. My Linus knew his name by the next day, but his adventures were just beginning.

Chapter 2: We Can Work It Out
I grew up with indoor cats, so I never really believed in outdoor cats, but I thought that most cats enjoy smelling the outdoors. Because of this, I thought it would be a great idea for Linus to be able to experience the outdoors in a controlled situation - being held by me or on a leash. It would be rewarding to him. I decided I was going to teach him how to walk on a leash. He had learned his name in a day, so I knew he wasn’t stupid. But leash-walking, no, he didn’t like that, and at the time, I didn’t even think of a halter. It probably wouldn’t have changed things for him if I had purchased a halter, anyways. He was an absolute complete and utter idiot outside the house. He would just scream and run around in circles, for the most part, eyes wide and scared to death. So that adventure ended quite quickly - replaced by car-rides which he loved - but in the meantime, I realized a lot about his character, or at least how he was perceived by others.
He got along perfectly with all the cats - there were four indoor/outdoor cats - and all the dogs - I think there were nine outside dogs. There was something about him, that the other cats and dogs were understanding about. They were patient and kind to him. They gave up food to him, and shared with him, when they wouldn’t share with anyone else. There was something special about Linus, and I wasn’t the only one to realize it!
However, he didn’t learn the word no for the first year I had him. I tried time-outs (which would work for five minutes), I tried spraying him with water bottles, I even tried spanking him. None of these worked. He could not process the word no. And to make matters worse, it was like he was on speed for the first year. He would wake me up every 20-30 minutes every single night for the first year, mostly chewing on my head then start zooming around the house like a crazy man. I don’t know how I survived his kitten hood, but it was definitely worth it. I figured that with me growing up with ADHD, that this was probably just a small dose of karma for what I put my parents through. He even drug my poor one foot tall fake Christmas tree around the apartment the first two years I had him. I wish I could have caught more pictures of him as a young boy, but I would have needed a high-speed camera to keep up with his antics!
Just as I was truly starting to doubt his intelligence, I ended up with a puppy. Laurie’s Australian Shepherd Dixie went into heat and got knocked up by the neighbor dog, a Chow and Black Lab Mix named Mooch. I ended up with one of the 10 puppies. I named him Oscar Linda - that was supposed to be my name, if my sisters had gotten their way when I was born, after my Aunt Linda and Oscar the Grouch. It was an apt name because Oscar could not stay out of the garbage can. He unfortunately taught Linus about how to get into the goodies in the garbage can. Oscar was so dark of a grey that when he was wet - from a bath or the rain - he looked purple, and he was a gentle sweet but energetic soul. He had shorter ears that flopped forward, and he went with me everywhere I wanted to take Linus.
One day, I was trying to teach Oscar how to sit. Oscar was not comprehending what I was asking, but after a moment, I realized that Linus was sitting, every time I asked the dog to sit.
Eureka! My cat wasn’t stupid. I now had a bargaining tool! Now, to wear off some of his energy, I could have him do tricks! I quickly rewarded with him treats every time he sat! Success! Easier than the dog! I didn’t know that by opening the line of communication for tricks, I would open the line of communication completely to Linus, to be able to talk to him, to relate to him, and him to be able to talk and relate to me.
First thing’s first, after sit, I taught him to jump. This would help wear off some energy. And it was only onward after that. Soon, I had taught the cat to fetch - never managed to teach the dog that - and now I had an even better way to wear off his energy.
With this new found exercise, and added communication, I almost instantly saw a profound change in his manner. He truly began to respect and to trust me. He was still a little wild around the edges, but by George, he was listening to me, and we were finding a way to communicate! He soon knew what I meant by No! He listened - well most of the time, because he was still hyper - or at least tried to listen! Treats had fixed my kitty! We had an open communication line! And it only grew from there. He learned to trust me, because my wild man was finally able to understand there were reasons for me saying no, and good boy, among many other things he grew to learn in the future.
At the end, Linus could officially do on command:

Give paw - although you had to put the treat into the center of his paw so that way he could pop it into his mouth like a piece of candy
Chuff - a noise that a lot of the big cats do when they are happy, he would make on command.
the “F” game - when we would deliberately say an F word, like “Food” or “Frisbee”, etc.,. he would go Fff… He had his own “F” word.
Speak - although when he spoke it would be in strange dolphin-like cries. He would make dolphin-like chattering noises when he was overly excited.
Dance/Snake charm - he would sway back in forth in the beg position, in a dance move. My husband called it snake charm, because he looked like a snake being charmed, but I called it dance.
The Bear - walk around like a circus bear, with his arms tucked in.

Not to say that Linus did the tricks every single time. He was still a cat. But almost every time he would do the tricks. He was far too interested in whatever food I wanted to give him to not listen for very long.
Even his food orientation I didn’t detect right away, because it took several food changes to find something he would eat the way I wanted him to. It ended up being Iams which I ended up feeding him for almost all of his adult life. But glorious human food, he would do anything for. He grew pickier in his later years, but there were substantial reasons for that.

Chapter 3:And Your Bird Can Sing
Linus was always fastidious about his litter pan. A few months after bringing Linus home, my cousin Amanda, Linus and I had moved into the spare salon-style home next to Laurie and Eddie’s house. I soon discovered that Linus was going to use the cat box every single time I had to go to the bathroom - they were in the same room. And after he would go to the bathroom, he would throw the litter left in the pan up into the air like confetti until the box was almost empty. This was not going to work. I therefore invested in a covered litter pan which he thoroughly loved, for he could then throw around his litter. Linus was not picky about what variety of litter was in there. Whether it was shredded pieces of paper, Styrofoam, gravel-type litter, sandy litter, dirt from the back yard; it really didn’t matter. As long as he has something to do his business in, he would make do. This fixed his showing off in the bathroom, but for close to two years he still accompanied me. After a point, he stopped using the bathroom at the same time, but would still join me. He would like to run in, rub against my legs, ask for food, and occasionally, he would sprint into the bathroom, touch my face tenderly with a paw, talk for a second, then run off. Usually the face-touching was when I was stuck in the bathroom for a while. He touched my face to say, “I love you. You’re going to be okay.” Then he would tear off through the house.
I learned all these facets about Linus from growing up with him. In Mississippi I fostered a lot of animals, hand feeding birds, bottle-feeding kittens, puppies, and raccoons. Linus enjoyed this business. He was very good with the little ones, although if the kittens or puppies were too noisy, in his opinion, he would stick his paw through the cat carrier I kept them in, and tap them on the face.
The only time I became a little bit nervous about trusting him around small animals was around the birds I was hand feeding. When I was hand feeding a quartet of birds that had been knocked out of the nest, he had an impish look in his eye, which I did not trust. Usually I would lock him in the bedroom until I was done feeding the birds. Then the birds safe in their cage, I would release him back into the living room.
This worked fairly well for a while. Until Linus realized that he was missing out on something. Especially with me using the words “hungry”, “food” and “eat” with the birds as I fed them, he felt very left out. He started trying to dart out of the bedroom every time I closed the door.
One day, I was frustrated with Linus. The birds needed to be fed every three to four hours, or else they would become too dehydrated. Sleep deprivation was having a hand in my reaction, for I picked up Linus and tossed him onto the bed.
Linus came bounding back and screaming at me. He wanted to do it again?
I launched him onto the bed, and he came screaming back.
I picked him up and started zooming him around the apartment, making motor noises with my mouth, zooming back to near the bed and launched him again.
He came screaming and running back to me.
We did this until he was tired and had to go potty. Then I had to go the bathroom with him, and I closed the door and fed the birds.
We now had a new game. We had Airplane. And now I had a new way of dealing with him, when I needed to do adult things like hand-care for little animals that he was thinking impish thoughts of.
Once I was down to only one of the birds - three of them died having seizures - he was manageable. I could have the bird out, and occasionally he would look impishly, but that was almost none of the time. I am assuming four baby birds was too much for his prey drive, but one baby bird was not enough while he was supervised.
Later on in his life, I had rats, and degus. He would bathe them as I held them in my hand. It always made me rather nervous, but I was not a very successful rodent mother. I did not have the right set up.

Chapter 4: Wild Honey Pie
I worked in a vet’s office for a while during my stay down in Mississippi, and Linus and Dante would come with me to work. Dante was a kitten I had rescued out of the engine of a parked car at McDonald’s where I also worked. Exactly half of his whiskers were singed off (the ones on his right side), and because of my increasing obsession with Kevin Smith movies, he ended up with the name Dante. His whole entire attitude encompassed the phrase of “I’m not even supposed to be here today!“ He was an angry and volatile kitten who was completely ungrateful for everything. But he loved Linus, and he had a lot of health issues, so I kept him around. Because of Dante’s increasing health issues, and Linus for loved the fun of car rides, I would take him for company with Dante. Dante did not have to stay in a carrier, as he had been trained from an early age that car rides were no big deal. Linus was too hyper, so he had to be in the carrier, but I usually just stuck them in the carrier together.
One day, I told the vet that I was going to be moving back to Michigan and that I was thinking of rehoming Dante, to a stable environment, since I didn’t know what my financial situation would be once I moved back Up North.
My vet agreed that rehousing Dante was a good and humane idea, but she thought I should also rehome Linus. The vet told me that I would eventually find myself in a housing situation where I might have to give up living with animals, and that was a fact of life. She was wrong, and I knew it at the time, because I told her, “Not Linus. Never Linus. No matter where I go, I will go with Linus.” I even wrote a song about it. But that I shall share more near the end of this book.
Once I had rehomed Oscar - due to my lack of stability - and I had rehomed Dante, I made my journey back Up North but before then, I shall show you a glimmer, a glance of what he would become to me by recounting some of his kitten hood. His toddler years, as I like to call them.
For one thing, Linus began life as a wild man. He was wild wild wild to start with. When I bought him his space shuttle looking cat carrier with an entrance in the top and the front, I promptly found a sticker to affix to it that said “Bad Boy” as the bumper sticker. Even his fur had a wild texture. It was more similar to the raccoons I helped foster then to a cat’s. And as light colored as he was, he grew darker as he grew older. I grew to miss his light tan stripes on those silvery legs, as they grew to a dark black, along with spots that appeared. But his purple toe pads remained dark, surrounded by black.
No, my cat did not remain super-hyper-psycho-kitty forever. But I thought there was no end in sight. No light at the end of the tunnel. Who would want to date me let alone marry me with a uncontrollably insane wild-man like Linus at home? One I was so devoted to, that my future husband ended up wondering if it was at times unhealthy and obsessive?
With no hope in sight of him calming down, I still, even with all his energy felt myself falling deeper and deeper for him, unbelievably. Until the day came to neuter him. He was four months old, and he was already starting to have an unpleasant odor to him which I knew meant he was going to be a big boy at a young age. I made the appointment with the local spay bus I volunteered with. This way, I got to be with him for his surgery.
There was a sense of loss when they extracted his testicles. I knew I was doing the right thing, but there would never be any baby Linuses. And I loved him thoroughly. And he was so handsome. If I had known how great a cat he would have ended up being, I still would have had him neutered, but I would have adopted the whole litter in hopes that they would have all ended up as great as him. Although I don’t know how I would have survived the first year and a half with 4 bouncing fruitcakes, it would ultimately have been worth it to grow grey pre-maturely. With that much love, how could life go wrong? How could I ever frown?
I was so happy to not have to worry about spraying, or Linus humping inappropriately, or acting aggressive, or any of the nasty side affects of being un-altered. I had stopped that before it could even have the chance of starting. Now with his surgery done, perhaps he would settle down, I contemplated.
Bringing him home, he was very very drunk from the sedation. Very disoriented. But I found he was following me around the house, crying. I was very hungry by this point, having not eaten since 5 am, and it was now around 5 pm. Laurie made me a salad, and I proceeded to try and eat it at the kitchen table. He continued to scream at me. I thought he might be hungry, since it was his method to scream at me whenever I was eating, and the poor drunk man tried to crawl up my pants leg. I facilitated by putting him in my lap. He proceeded to purr and fall directly to sleep. He just wanted his mommy. Once again, this reaffirmed my love for him. Again, I wondered if he would settle down dramatically following this surgery.
Linus for the first time ever, slept the whole night through, and curled up with me in bed. I was jubilant to have a complete night’s sleep.
The next day he was back to his normal bouncy self. This was a joy and a disappointment. I wanted more cuddle time with him. But that would come with time.

Chapter 5: When I Get Home
Coming back home to Michigan was an adventure. First of all, Linus loved packing. He loved moving. He was always full-throttle into the experience of a new adventure. I wish I could always have his enthusiasm.
Secondly, my friend of 9 years - Claudia - came down on a bus and rode back up with me in my 1989 Toyota Camry who was named Bennyboo. Linus was noisy the first two hours in his space shuttle shaped cat carrier on wheels, but after that he was quiet. It was early July of 2002.
I managed to get a job at Econo foods - one of the local grocery stores shortly after arriving back home. I stayed with Claudia for a few months, until her mother complained that she thought she was allergic to the cat - I don’t know he she would know since Linus never left Claudia’s bedroom - and that I had to rehome him.
“I’m not rehoming him,” I told them, firmly.
Linus stayed with Claudia’s sister Terry until I had found my own place. A place with no working plumbing, but still my own place. I say no working plumbing for I replaced the toilet twice before calling the plumber, and he informed me that originally the house I was living in had been hooked up to a septic tank and that when they were supposed to hook up the plumbing to the city pipes, they had failed to do so. What this meant was that all the sewage was going into a hole in the ground, which was rather unfortunate in the winter, for the ground froze and the sewage had nowhere to go.
During this time that we were living in this place I called the Shack - for that is what it looked like - I adopted a cat from the shelter which I named Velcro, since he stuck to absolutely everything and had no claws. I sheltered degus and rats, and thought I would continue my life as a foster care for animals as I had previously done in Mississippi.
Well the rats died from a gas leak in the shack, Velcro killed one degu and the other one went crazy, and Velcro refused to use the cat box. I took him to three different vets, tried every single different variety of cat litter, tried different cat boxes. Nothing worked. I broke down and brought him back to the shelter and took in a 10 year old cat named Holly whose “mother” had died at the age of 83. I did not want to lose Velcro. He was one of the sweetest cats ever, but I was at a loss on what to do. I had run out of options. And if it was truly emotional, like the vets suggested, he would have a better option with another home. Not all, but a lot of emotional issues clear up in new homes.
Shortly after getting Holly I received a call from McDonald’s. They wanted me to come work with them. After the two years of working at McDonald’s in Mississippi, I wanted to continue my training and at least get management under my belt and on my résumé so my time in fast food would not be wasted. I took the position.
I think it was a week after I started working, that a man I knew from working at Econo came over and asked me out. I was shocked. I had thought he was really hot, and far too hot to be interested in little old me. But I said yes. And history was made. I fell deeply in love with him, the man nick-named Wally after Wally Cleaver. He had a little girl, and although I had never ever had the maternal drive to want to give birth to a child, I knew from the moment I met her that she was something special. Her name was LeAnn. I fell hard for her too. And Holly, well she fell in love with Wally, but soon succumbed to organ failure, and I had her put to sleep. I try to think of her as a foster, since she was only with me for three months. Her “mother” had died of old age, and I was just fostering her until she could be with her real mom again.
About three months into Wally and my relationship, we decided that my living in a shack with no plumbing, and him living in Norway, was not working. We came upon the decision together for me to move in with him. On that night I was packing everything into my car, I heard a loud truck noise in the yard of my car, and some laughing. Someone tried to break into my house. They opened the door, and I slammed their arm in the door. If it had been someone I knew and was my friend, they would have yelled out my name and said, “Liz, let me in.“ This did not occur. Knowing it was a foe, I stabbed the manly looking arm with a fork. It was my only weapon on hand right next to the door. Did I mention the shack had only one door that was no boarded up? Only one place to escape from! Linus was growling and screaming, something I had never heard before in my years with him, and I knew that if it was someone I knew who wanted to hurt me, they would do something to Linus. That is all I could think of. To protect Linus.
I managed to get him out of the door, and lock it. I heard what sounded like two girls giggling, a man swearing and the truck tore off. So a man and two girls? Not really sure. I didn’t look out the window. I was in too much of a panicked state. I called the cops. Then I called Wally, then I called my friend Hannah to ask if I could stay with her. I knew that Linus and I could not stay at my parent’s house because they were housing my cat Kazi who had a communicable disease that caused ulcers in his mouth.
Hannah was quickly over with her parents. She beat the police coming over. Hannah and her parents helped me get my essentials - like Linus’s litter pan, him and his food, and some clothes. If I remember correctly, it was the next night when we finished moving everything into Wally’s apartment.
The man was never caught, I don’t think. Only some DVDs were stolen that I had put out on the porch in anticipation to move to the car. Also, Claudia and I shortly thereafter stopped being friends. It broke my heart, in a way, because I had given more to her than I had ever given to any other human at that point. She had been my sister and my friend when the whole world had turned against me, but then eventually she turned against me, for she didn’t accept me for me. And I guess in way, I did the same to her, because I couldn’t accept for her. So you see, people change, and we have to develop even with a loss in our lives. Ob-la-di ob-la-da.
Shortly after moving in, our landlord informed us that we were not allowed to have two cats in the apartment, and that we would have to get rid of my cat, since Kitty - my husband’s cat - was already residing there. I would not “get rid” of my cat. A friend offered to house him for a short time until we found another place to live. I thought this was swell.
During my stay in the shack, I was very sick. I had been battling tonsillitis and other infections off and on since I was 18. I don’t really know what was causing the infections, but I do know that it took almost 6 years before I got my tonsils out.
One night, my tonsils were so swollen that I couldn’t even swallow my own spit. My lymph glands were swollen like balloons on the sides of my neck, and to relieve the pressure and the heaviness, I decided to take a nap in the bathtub at our apartment.
Wally - my boyfriend then but later to be my husband - came home and told me that he was taking me to the hospital.
I spent four days in the hospital, fighting the infection and being hooked up to IVs. I apparently not only had a nasty tonsil infection, but I also had mono!
On the third day, the lady who was housing Linus had talked to Wally and told him that if I did not pick up Linus by the next day that she was sending him to the animal shelter. Linus’s shots were not up to date, and I was scared not only that this would be a death sentence, but I was also furious that someone who claimed to be my friend would offer to do me a favor, and then renege when I was at my very worst of health. To threaten my cat’s life by sending him to the animal shelter was something unforgivable.
Wally assured me that Linus would be okay. He snuck Linus into the apartment. We kept Linus in the apartment just long enough until we could get him his vaccinations. Then we took him to the Hometowne Animal Hospital in Niagara and boarded him. He ended up having to stay there for three months until we found another apartment to move into. I visited him frequently, and at first was quite distraught about having to leave him, but quickly that feeling faded. He was treated like royalty at the vet’s office. They bought him toys, and let him wander around the vet’s office after close. They let him eat as much food as he wanted, and they even gave him a bath. I’m not sure if he liked the bath. I only bathed Linus once when I first got him. He was such a wild man, that there was no telling if there was any enjoyment in the procedure.
After three months, we had found a new apartment. Kitty’s health was declining, and she was very very displeased when we moved. Not to mention the fact that Linus was there, and that he wished to be her friend.
Linus was a strange boy. Or perhaps more of a man than I thought he would be. Having had him fixed at four months old, I figured he would not care about the difference between a female and a male cat. This was not true. He deeply bonded with male cats, but he truly became a Neanderthal when it came to females. He had a stupid look on his face whenever he smelled that I had been near a girl cat, or if he encountered one. Because of this strange reaction, he was smothering Kitty with attention once she finally came out from under the bed. He tried to mount her, and nibble on the back of her neck - foreplay in the feline world - which I thought was strange, seeing as he didn’t really know what to do with his parts when he did get on top of her.
The first week into the new apartment, wherever Linus would walk, he would knead the floor. He was so happy to be in this apartment and with me, that he acted almost as if he was drugged. I hadn’t forgotten how much I had missed him. I hadn’t forgotten how he used to follow me around the house, but now with my abscense, the following had developed into something new. He was trying to “help” me do everything. Even more than he ever had.
Linus had always tried to “help” me cook. He had always tried to “help” me read, to sleep. But now it was different. Linus had finally outgrown the toddler years.
Shortly thereafter, my husband had his cat Kitty put to sleep. Linus was alone. And shortly thereafter he began to slowly emotionally degenerate. He became crabby, lethargic, unmotivated. Something had to be done.

Chapter 6: Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby
Meanwhile I was falling deeper in love with Wally, and his little girl had completely stolen my heart. I still didn’t want to have children. I’ve never had the maternal instinct to want children of my own. I don’t turn to mush when I see babies. Unless those are baby kittens. But I loved LeAnn and she had became a part of my universe. She was a whole world in my universe.
One day LeAnn told us, “Linus is lonely.“ Not, “I think Linus is lonely.” She just stated the fact that Linus was lonely.
And she was right. Linus had grown up in a home filled with animals, and for his daddy and mommy to both me working and for him to be alone, was slightly cruel.
I began to volunteer at the animal shelter again. I kept waiting for someone to catch my eye. And he did.
The card said he was 7 months old. He was a “red” tabby, with big gold eyes, and a boatload of personality. He was so excited to see me every time I went there, and went out of his way to show off for me. Fanning his tail, and prrting.
After several hours over several days spending time with him, and seeing the way he interacted with everyone in the shelter, I knew he was the one. He got along with everyone, and was just a joy.
One weekend, in February of 2004, Wally, LeAnn and I went out to the shelter and looked at that red cat. He actually was more of an orange. (You know, how some people call people a red head but actually they have more of an orange hair? He was that cat). She had her eyes on a long-haired white cat, but when I brought her to see Mandarin, she was tickled pink with him. He instantly fell in love. He wouldn’t leave her alone.
Mandarin was originally named Marmalade. The name didn’t seem to suit him. So, with my tragic allergy to oranges, and my husband being assistant produce manager at the grocery store, we thought it would be funny to name him Mandarin. He would be the one “orange” I could hold. We put Mandarin on hold at the animal shelter, and picked him up on Monday to first bring him to the vet’s office, and have him feluk/fiv tested, get some remaining vaccinations, and get him a clean bill of health before he was to go home. He had an upper respiratory infection so he required antibiotics. He hated those, but he was quickly better.
Mandarin, as much as he was in love with me at the animal shelter, was just as uninterested with me once we brought him home. He was however completely 1000% in love with Wally, Linus, and LeAnn. He would spend hours and hours when LeAnn was over, “helping” her make necklaces, playing string and laser with her. He was completely enamored with her. He would curl up with Linus so tightly on the bed or the couch, that even their tails were entwined. They would bathe each other with their tongues, they would play, and they would fight over sunbeams. If Linus found a good sunbeam, Mandarin would come over, bite his back, and Linus would squawk and give up the sunbeam. Then Mandarin would go into the other room. He didn’t want the sunbeam. He just didn’t want Linus to be enjoying the sunbeam so much and to have something he didn‘t have.
I thought there was no danger in Linus and Mandarin playing. I was not completely correct. One hot summer day, my husband and I were in our apartment, trying to cool off, the windows wide open, air flowing through the screens of the windows. My husband was in the bedroom, and I was on the couch in the living room. Mandarin was chasing Linus through the bathroom, back through the kitchen, and into the bedroom when I heard a strange metallic twang.
Wally roared with laughter. He had been drinking and relaxing. He came out of the bedroom. “Mandarin threw Linus out the window.” He was laughing because it reminded him of Looney Tunes. What apparently had happened, was that Mandarin and Linus would chase each other through the house, and bounce off structures as they went. Linus thought he could bounce off the window, but the window was up, and so he went right through the screen on the window.
I frantically ran downstairs out of the apartment, to the outside, and began to look for Linus, screaming and crying, “My baby! My baby!” One of the apartment mates had a friend over and that friend helped me catch Linus. I found Linus circling the house in slow motion making his “I’m-going-to-puke” caterwaul, scared out of his wits. But fortunately nothing was broken. He was okay. We managed to corner him - did I mention he lacked any sense outside? - and I brought him back home.
I have failed to previously mention but Linus was a Houdini. Every single place he has resided, he has at least once found a way to exit the place. This escapade of being thrown out the window wasn’t his fault but was the last of his escapes outside.
Linus being as challenged as he was about being outside, led me to the decision to have him wear a collar with tags - including his rabies tag and identification - and for him to have his front claws out.
After laying for 12 hours in the pouring rain in Mississippi in the mud, trying to coax Linus out from underneath the porch, and chasing him around the house, trying to get him back inside, my decision was made. The mortality rate was too high where I lived, and I thought that having his front claws out was the best decision to prove to someone that he belonged to someone, that he was an indoor cat. That he did not belong outside. I regret the decision now, mostly, because in most ways, it was a meaningless surgery, seeing as the cat never used his claws, and even chewed his own claws short, because he did not like them long, and because I never did end up having to put out Lost pictures in search of my cat, but one never does know. Also, the recovery was not easy on the big boy. And now I know how bad declawing really is for cats, I wouldn’t knowingly do it to a cat. But I will still adopt cats without their claws if they are the right cat for me. No sense in wasting a perfectly good cat, just because someone else paid for the surgery for them. Declawing can ruin your cat’s personality, and whatever problems you had with them before can be amplified. Fortunately, Linus had no problems I couldn’t deal with. But Linus was special, and not a cat that just anyone could have survived.
Something strange developed from getting him collars. Every time I would get him a new one - he wore out so many from experience with fosters - he would become excited. When it was just him and Mandarin in his older year, one Christmas I bought him a new one, and he became very excited. I realized where his excitement was. He was looking around the house for a new kitten. Every time I had brought home a new kitten I had bought a new collar. I hated to disappoint him, so I tried to limit getting his new collars anymore. I did not want to distress him. How do you explain to your cat that there is not another furry face coming into the home? No new brother or sister? It was heart-breaking to me to not be able to explain that to him. That was the one thing I didn’t like about him being a different species. As much as he understood me more than a lot of people do, there was so much I couldn’t find a way to explain to him, and it caused such an ache in my heart.

Chapter 7: And I Love Her
And so I came to be aware that I was truly blissfully ridiculously happy, or so I thought. Two furry sons, a man I loved and a human daughter I never thought I wanted, but couldn’t picture her out of my life. She was perfection. She was endlessly giving, thoughtful, and silly.
I didn’t know that part of my Universe would soon be destroyed.
February 15th 2005, at 1210AM, LeAnn passed away. The emergency team kept her alive just long enough so that way she wouldn’t die on Valentine’s day. She had succumbed to bacterial meningitis. The emergency helicopter tried to make it to our hospital but could not. The fog was too thick and they were stuck half way. The whole family had to take an antibiotic as a preventative measure and the next day we were frantically filling our prescriptions and running to the vet’s office to make sure that our cats couldn’t catch the infection.
For a brief time I was angry at the cats. LeAnn, being a human, was supposed to outlive my cats. The ones I loved in my life were dying out of sequence. She died because a bacterial infection went like wildfire through her body, and destroyed her organs. She couldn’t recover from that. And so swiftly I forgave the cats, though they had done nothing wrong. Grief is irrational at times.
That summer, Wally’s dad was not doing well with his battle with stomach cancer. I decided Wally and I should get married. If we didn’t plan something good to happen that year, then nothing would happen good that year.
October 21, 2005, Wally and I were married. It was a small wedding, with only my immediate family, one friend and her kid, and Wally’s brother Mark. We were married at the courthouse, which I had always thought looked like a castle when I was growing up. It was not where I wanted to be married. I wanted to be married outdoors, barefoot, the grass between my feet, in a clearing in the woods, but location wasn’t the most important aspect of a marriage. The right man was what made the wedding. His father died two hours before we were married, but Mark would not let us know until after the wedding, so Wally would not have any excuse to back out. Mark had thought it was far past time for Wally to make me an honest man.
We were now a family. Linus, Mandarin, LeAnn, and Wally. Fractured by death, but still a family. I think that true love transcends time and space and death and life.

Chapter 8: Let It Be
Being part of a family is about compromise. Linus used to play fetch. He stopped playing fetch with me as soon as Mandarin became too interested in the toys. It was as if he was relinquishing something he enjoyed to benefit Mandarin. But as they began to interact I noticed strange things. When I brought home catnip toys, or fuzzy mice, or other various cat toys, Linus was always drawn to the “girly” colors. Pinks, and purples. Mandarin liked neon. Hot pink, lime green, bright blue.
Mandarin would wash the catnip mice or eggs in the water bowl. Linus was gravely insulted by this. How dare anyone put anything in his water dish? Even worse, Mandarin liked to wash his paws in the water dish after he finished using the litter box, so I began emptying the water dish four or five times a day. I was also angry. Why would Mandarin do this to poor Linus who just wanted fresh water to drink?

Chapter 9: Come Together
Part of being a married couple is to be intimate. Being intimate was difficult. To start with, the cats were both very interested in what we were doing during those special romantic times. When my husband I would kiss, Linus would run up to us thinking we were eating and make his strange dolphin cries. This didn’t last forever, but what did was humorous and rather endearing, through my eyes.
Wally and I would have our intimate time together and afterwards, when Wally would go to grab a sandwich or go to the bathroom or check the locks on the apartment as was his routine, Linus would come bounding into the room and want to snuggle with me, or take Wally’s spot in the bed. When Linus would snuggle up to me, he would first start by majorly smashing my boobs, and the drooling would start. Like a St. Bernard in the bed, but a fraction of the size, the nasal discharge, the prominent drool. Well, if I hadn’t loved him it wouldn’t be worth it.
Even when we weren’t being intimate, if Wally had to get up and go to the bathroom or he needed to grab a sandwich or some other part of his nightly routine, Linus would follow this routine. He would be all snuggled up on me, and as soon as Wally would leave, Linus would take his spot. I found it humorous. Wally found it exasperating. But he put up with it.
Linus loved as much as he could. When LeAnn would come over, he would allow her to pick him up and carry him for a while, and pet him. When he became too tired of her energy, he would go sleep on the bed. Sometimes, he would go straight to the bed when she came over.
“Can I go say hi to Linus?” She would ask in her sweet giving innocent voice.
“Yes. But just be gentle. Linus is tired.” She would go into the bedroom, and pet him gently on the head. He would purr gently for her, and this was wonderful. Then she would go into the other room to play with Mandarin who only once became too tired for her attention.
Sometimes LeAnn would ask me, “Why doesn’t Linus want to play?” I would explain gently to her, “He’s just older. He doesn’t have as much energy as Mandarin.”
“Is he sick?” She would ask.
“No. He’s just tired. You know how when you’re tired, sometimes you don’t want to do things?”
“Yes!” She cried out triumphantly.
“Well Linus is the same way. Sometimes he gets too tired to do things.”
“Well when he’s not tired can we play?”
I smiled. “Yes. When he’s not tired you can play with him. He’ll let you know when he’s not tired, and until then you can play with Mandarin.”
This brought a beam of a smile from her that was completely contagious. Joy is the best contagion in the world. And a patience grew from LeAnn once she understood. Sometimes Linus would play with her, and sometimes he just could not. When he could not, there was always Mandarin, endless boundless stretch of energy that he was during the years LeAnn was still with us. And when Linus was ready to share, she would share her Sprite with him. He liked to dip his paw in her almost completely empty container from McDonald’s and sip the Sprite off of his paw. He loved to share.

Chapter 10: Here There and Everywhere
Wally had a polar relationship with Linus. His form of bonding was a brotherly or guy friend sort of bonding. He liked to call him fat joke names. On the other hand, he also was in the habit of constantly sneaking him treats, and then he would proceed to be angry when Linus would watch us eating. I tried to explain to Wally that Linus watching us was like him watching the Food Network. It was entertainment for him. Wally would get irritated that Linus would sit near me and watch me eat. I never quite got bored of him watching me. His adoration was endlessly entertaining.
Wally liked to “accidentally” drop a piece of food and cover it with a cough. I would watch him out of the corner of my eye and smirk.
He also complained about when Linus would “help” put his comic books away into their proper boxes, and sit in the box cover. But you could see him smiling and laughing that Linus had fit himself in the cover.
Linus also liked to deliberately lay in the archway to the living room, so Wally would have to step over him to get to another room. This was Linus’s gentle way of asking for attention while you passed. He did not want to be ignored. He would never demand for anything, always polite and asking, but he did yearn for attention. I was in the habit of always reaching down and petting him. I probably re-enforced this behavior.

Chapter 11: Happy Just to Dance With You
Linus was a joy. He loved to help with everything from vacuuming to cooking to sorting comic books. But to be honest, he wasn’t the most social cat in the whole entire world. As much as he was doglike, he was never going to come leap up on strangers, just enthralled at a new person’s presence. It’s not that he didn’t like other people, he had just bonded with me, and didn’t trust them to take care of him. I understood this. We had gone through too much together for him to completely trust anyone else. I overcame his misanthropy in a manner of speaking, by making the habit of allowing people to feed him a small portion of food when they came over. This went a long way towards easing his troubled feelings. He would even open up enough to do his tricks for visitors. He truly enjoyed to have people come over and to park about four feet away from them and watch them. He liked to watch them talk, and to visit, and to be themselves. This way, once he finally decided it was time, he might want to rub against their leg, and might let them touch him.
Except for repair people.
For some reason he was overcome by an absolute irrepressible joy when someone would come over to:
Work on the computer
Work on the toilet
Fix cabinets
Hook up cable
He absolutely adored the fact that they were going to ignore him for the most part and he could throw his body against them, nearly violent for attention, and try to fit his 14.6 pound furry butt into their tool belt, and be a general adorable nuisance. Their lack of interest meant that he really was given a chance to shine, in all his glory. He really needed to have them love him. He must have thought they were trying to play hard to get! And even if they didn’t even put a hand on him, to stroke his back, since he was so generous, he was never insulted. He just tried harder. In a sense, he loved those the most who came to help me. It’s a good thing he didn’t come with me to get my car fixed, or there would have been cat fur in all the parts on my cars!
I remember my father coming over to help me assemble a piece of furniture. It was a cabinet my husband and I intended to put DVDS into. My husband’s temper can be inflammatory and he has no patience for furniture. So I knew it would have to be me, but I was having difficulties myself, and thought it would be a nice bonding experience to have my dad over to help me, if he felt like it.
My dad came over, and was helping me to put together this piece of furniture. Linus was being his normal adorable/obnoxious self. After all was said and done, my father gave the cat an incredulous look, and patted him gently.
“Hey dad? Do you want to see his tricks?” I asked, sitting on the couch for a moment.
He gave me a look to say that he would humor me, but he didn’t really believe what I was saying. I knew that look. Endlessly patient, but not expectant of anything fabulous.
So I asked Linus to sit.
He sat.
I gave him a treat.
My dad’s blue eyes were big with awe.
“Do it again!”
I asked Linus to jump up.
He jumped up, and touched my hand.
I gave him a treat, then asked him to sit.
He sat.
I gave him another treat.
“He is the coolest cat ever!” My dad exclaimed.
Then my dad asked how I ever was able to teach Linus how to do such spectacular feats. I told him the story. I told him about his horrific toddler years. I told him of Oscar, and how I wasn’t able to teach Oscar how to sit, but I was sure able to teach Linus.
He listened to every single word that I said.
Then he was able to get Linus to do sit for him three times. My father was enthralled.
Linus and my father had come to an agreement. Linus liked my father. My dad fixed stuff, AND he gave treats. Linus would allow him to come to the house as he wanted.
Later, my father told my mother about my cat.
“So he actually does tricks, huh?” My mom asked.
“Well she said he did, but hell, I didn’t believe her, until I saw him do them!”
I miss my father. He passed away April 21, 2006. He died in his sleep of a massive coronary event. My brother went to wake him the next morning and found him in the basement of the house I grew up in, asleep in his favorite chair, with the gigantic remote my sister had bought for him since he was far-sighted in his hand. He looked like he was asleep. I was so affected by the loss of my father, then when I was to go over to the house, I couldn’t even figure out how to operate pants. As in, I couldn’t figure out buttons. So I went in a skirt. Losing my father was crippling. I thought my father was a super-hero. But as critically painful as this even was in my life, this disillusionment was not as brutal as it could have been. I mean, I had already outlived the only human daughter I would ever have. What could be crueler than that? And I was now exempt from loss now that I had experienced so much, right? You would think? Well that’s the sin of presumption. And when one makes the sin of presuming, well life has a funny way of proving you wrong.

Chapter 12: Carry That Weight
Linus loved to be with me. He loved to sleep on me, to perch on my shoulder and chest while we were in bed, but one of his most important tasks was to wake me in the morning. He would wait until it was just about time for the alarm clock to go off, and he would come in and knead my bladder making soft happy noises, and drooling like a St. Bernard and dripping from his nose. He knew that I couldn’t handle the pressure on my bladder. It would make me need to go to the bathroom, and first thing’s first in the morning I would have to go pee.
By the time I came back he was all ready for snuggling. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time left to snuggle. I had to be getting ready for work. But a couple of pets and strokes appeased him and I got ready for my day of work.
It’s funny, but Linus never feared me leaving him. He believed me whole-heartedly when I told him that I was going to come back. Even when I went to Georgia for a week to bury my father’s remains and left my three men behind, he knew I would come back. Mandarin went into complete utter freak-out mode, but Wally and Linus were fine. Linus knew. He believed me. He trusted me. It’s not to say that he wasn’t happy when I came back, he just understood and trusted. As when he had to stay at the vet’s office, or had to stay at Terry’s, he just knew. He knew his mommy would never abandon him.

Chapter 13: Eight Days a Week
I guess I must confess that I was not a perfect mother. Nobody really is, are they? There are a lot of things I would do differently now, but as much as I was not a perfect pet owner and mommy, I perfectly loved Linus and was perfectly willing to learn how better to take care of him. No one could have loved Linus the way I had. I am certain of that. But as a dear friend of mine by the name of Amanda Shigehiro said, "As long as we do for them the best we know how and forever strive to improve upon that, we're doing them proud."
In learning about caring for Linus, for two years, I had my baby on flea medication, and flea bombed the house repeatedly due to black spots on his chin and my vet’s encouragement in Mississippi. (She believed that all animals that are kept inside down in the South should be on flea meds. I‘m not sure this is a bad idea, but this was not the solution for Linus‘s particular problem.) It turned out that actually he had some allergies, not fleas. Once I blocked off the bottom of the bed, and didn’t allow him under there, his chin failed to break out anymore. I learned that after moving back up to Michigan. At least I prevented him from getting fleas!
On the other end of the spectrum where in that instance of the “fleas” I had not received the most complete veterinary advice, when I diligently sought repeated medical advice for Linus’s twitchy eye, fully prepared to spend extravagant money on tests and treatments, I was relieved to be informed that Linus had a nervous tic. He would twitch his right eye much more than his left eye. But I loved him, as my mom would say, “warts and all”. It didn’t matter what strange tics or habits he had, I loved them all.
Caring for Linus meant watching his weight. Linus was what has been called a “scarf and barfer” by one of my friends. He would literally eat until he barfed, and then continue to eat, if allowed to. During one of his more round phases, I would take him weekly to the vet’s office until his weight tapered off. Being overweight of course is not healthy, regardless of the species, and when Linus ballooned up to almost 16 pounds, when even in his big-boned manner, should have been only 12, I took drastic dieting action. Once I had him down to 13.6, I gave up on his diet. I was happy with him where he was at, and he had stopped being crabby. Once he became too overweight, he became crabby, inactive and withdrawn. Sometimes just taking him for a car ride would take him out of his funk, but they never worked as a very long-living treatment for his funk. Besides being funky when he was overweight, his anal sacs would become full, and whenever he would get over excited he would spray anal juice all over the bed. The smell is horrific. It is not a common matter for cats to need to have their anal sacs expressed, but in overweight cats, it becomes something they cannot take care of themselves.
But back to the matter of his weight:
On the other hand, once he was too close to his ideal weight, he became so phenomenally pestering there was no avoiding feeding him. I discovered that I had a tenuous balance to maintain when it came to his weight.
Along with weight control, caring for him meant his annual trips to the vet’s office, which were never thought of in a bad sense until after there was a fire at our apartment complex that destroyed the apartment below us. I shoved both of my cats into the carrier, grabbed my 658 novel that I am working on typing up, and out the door I went. After our family unit having to live in a hotel for two weeks, in an even smaller area than we were accustomed to, with a new litter pan and cramped quarters, Mandarin was not excited about getting in a cat carrier at all. Linus, on the other hand, was fine about going to the vet’s office until his ears starting becoming dirty, and needing to be cleaned by the vet. After that, he was not delighted about going to the vet, but everything else was fine, unless the vet dug around in his ears.
Every single year I asked the veterinarian how Linus’s teeth looked. I was prepared for my cat’s teeth to have to be cleaned. I knew he was part Siamese and that the Siamese are prone to teeth problems. I wanted to be proactive. I wanted to prevent this, so at the drop of a hat I was ready to get them cleaned. It was time to do that when Linus turned 8.
In an ironic twist of event, I absolutely detest the dentist. I don’t go there like I should. When my Linus ended up needing to have some teeth extracted, I was all for it. And for me to be so proactive about my cat’s mouth, well, it will seem awfully strange to some people. To choose his mouth above my own, well, he was just a dumb cat, wasn’t he? I mean, the term “just a dumb cat” can be googled and you can come up with thousands upon thousands of references, making it seem like “just a dumb cat” would mean something. There must be an evidence for such a reaction, isn’t there?
No. He was not “just” anything. As in the synonym “merely”. He was not “merely” anything. He was a more complex yet simple individual than most of the people I know.
He was not “dumb.” In any sense of the definition of the word. He was not mute, and he was not stupid.
And he was not “just” a “cat.” Though “just” in many of its definitions did apply to Linus. But in the context that people would put it, well he was merely a cat. It desecrated the importance of Linus.
To say he was just a dumb cat, or just a cat, is like banging me in the face with a frying pan. Stabbing me in the back. Truly one of the most painful things to say, because it honestly means they didn’t know Linus, and it obviously means that they didn’t or don’t know me. Even if they truly felt that way, to say something like that, truly meant they didn’t care about my feelings, because they should have known how I felt by then.
He was my best friend.
He was my cheapest and most fulfilling form of entertainment.
He was my nurse. In that he tried to nurture me when I didn’t feel good.
He was an excellent dance partner. He suffered slow dances from me holding him in my arms with excellent nobility and patience.
He always watched Star Trek with me - although he got bored when the people came on the screen; he just liked the ships and the stars streaming by.
He helped me cook. In that he always kept me company in the kitchen while I was making food. And he talked to me.
He listened to me.
He tried to make me smile when I was upset.
There is so much he did to fill my life with endless triumphant joy.
Resulting from this joy, I knew that when the vet opened up Linus’s mouth and there was what looked like a sore in his mouth, and it looked infected, I would do anything to make him feel better.
I was absolutely devastated, having not known there was something wrong going on with my baby. How could I not know he had a big sore in his mouth? How could I not know he needed teeth removed?
I vowed to him then and there that I would get his teeth taken care of, and that then I would get my teeth taken care of.
About a month later, we had managed to come up with the money to do the extraction for Linus’s teeth. July 17th was his appointment for the cleaning and extraction. He ended up having to get three teeth removed and the roots. I had them give him a morphine shot to help with the pain, and we went home.
Linus was extremely drugged up, and very blissful, but he was so drugged up that he could not figure out how to purr. He went “p p p …“ but could not manage the “rrr…”. I must say that watching him recover from the drugs was some of the most entertaining moments of my life. He was trying to follow me around, but was too uncoordinated and drunk to do so, so I ended up laying in the floor with him for quite some time as he massaged the carpet with his happy paws and rolled around on his back. Apparently Linus was a very very happy drunk, like his mother. I ended up sleeping on the couch, next to him in the cat carrier, so I did not have to be far away from him. I knew from previous experiences that he being in recovery from anesthesia, that he needed to be near his mommy.
During the night I caught him digging at his face, so I put the water bowl right by him. I figured he might have been thirsty. I was right. He immediately drank up some water. It was just too much to ask him to walk until the morning.
The next day, I was curled up with Linus in the bed, in bed (yes I sleep with the furry babies if they want it) and Mandarin tried to come curl up with us and Linus GROWLED at him. I nearly died laughing. Apparently he just wanted me and only me. I knew Mandarin was quite eager for Linus to be all better so he could play with him, but Linus just wanted Mommy. It made me feel very bad that he was so bouncy and happy after the surgery. Obviously he had been in more pain than I had known. But I was overjoyed that my Linus was back to feeling better, and I was so relieved to have been able to bring Linus away from such pain!
My vet informed me that Linus would probably not be able to eat dry food anymore. I would have to start feeding him wet food. I had not fed Linus wet food since he was a kitten, except for one fluke Christmas when “LeAnn” gave the kitties canned food as presents for Christmas. It was not a happy experience. The cats enjoyed the food, which was the great part, but the downside was that Linus and Mandarin barfed everywhere. I was quite concerned. What was I going to feed him? I knew he couldn’t handle hamburger meat - anytime any would fall on the floor while he was cooking he would snatch it up and then proceed to barf everywhere - or gravy. I tried to make his food into cereal by adding water, but he was not interested. For a short while, we were feeding him deli meat from the grocery store my husband worked at but I knew he was not going to get the nutrients he needed by eating this food.
Finally, I came across Whiskas Purrfectly Chicken pouches. They were perfect. They were chicken in juice and he gobbled them up. How grateful he was, for he sure was hungry, and not interested in eating but a few nibbles of his dry food. He only started eating dry food in October, and only a little bit.
Linus was stoic about not feeling well. At times, he would scream violently for food, and other times he would simply just look at me, trusting that I would “do the right thing”. But ultimately he loved me, even if I was one of the biggest dorks in the Universe. Not just his Universe.
For example of my dorkiness and Linus’s acceptance:
Of course we were all being inundated with Michael Jackson music on the radio, due to the recent tragedy, and so it was only a matter of time before I got one of the King of Pop’s songs stuck in my head.
So I was jamming, coming out of the shower, singing into the mirror:
"Even if you were my Linus /
it don't matter if you're black or white."
Which was really funny - to me - because he certainly was black and white (and grey and brown and a little bit of pink and purple and blue), and his last name was Black.
But what was even better, was Linus slowly coming into our teeny bathroom, and peeking at me. He sat down and gazed upon me with patient sweet eyes. I looked at myself in the mirror and say out loud, "Oh I know, I'm a big dork." Then I turned to look at him.
He then sedately inflected his head once as if to nod reluctantly, and looked back up at me with his big blue eyes full of adoration as if he was saying, "Yes. I know. But I love you anyways."
Then six months later, he began to voraciously eat his dry food again. I thought he was cured, finally having adjusted to his mouth. I was wrong.

“The Linus Song”: Lyrics and tune by Liz Black

Linus, I have loved you from the start.
Linus, I can’t help it -
You’ve abducted my heart
And no matter where I roam
You’re beside me I know!
I love you, Linus, and you love me.
(You love me.)
You knock over the Christmas Tree
And do tricks for treats,
Then you make me up at 3 am
To chew on my feet
But no matter where I roam
You’re beside me I know!
I love you, Linus, and you love me.
(You love me.)
Now that you are older
You perch on my shoulder
And when I’m feeling sickly
You take care of me even though I’m icky
But no matter where I roam
You’re beside me I know!
I love you Linus and you love me.
(You love me)
And now that you are gone
I had to change my song
But I love you, Linus, and you love me!
I love you
through all space and eternity.

Chapter 14: Fixing a Hole
This is where you stop reading if you cannot handle sadness. If you cannot emotionally cope with it, please do not read on. Again, I must repeat that this story has a very valid point. I am hoping to make a difference and bring awareness. If that affects your decision to finish the book, please feel free.
Early June, of 2009, my husband and I noticed that Linus was exhibiting some strange symptoms. He would go in, take a bite of his food, and run out. He would open his mouth in the same way that Kazi did, and act like he was choking. I figured it was another tooth bothering him. I explained to my husband that we had to get him treatment. My husband was adamant that the car had to come first. It was our only car working at the time, and we had to have a car to get to work. Cars came first because then we could go to the jobs to make the money to take care of ourselves, and then save up the money to take care of Linus. There was no swaying him on this matter.
If it was a tooth, we would somehow have to come up with the money. We would have to be able to treat him, but I didn’t think at the time that it could be anything more severe than a tooth but I was distraught. My brain didn’t process anything worse than if he had a tooth, or if perhaps he had ulcers in his mouth. If he had ulcers in his mouth, the same virus Kazi had owned, then that in itself would have been a blessing. I could get him steroid shots from the vet’s office, and I had done that with Kazi, so I was prepared for that kind of treatment.
June 23, 2009 I took Linus and Mandarin in to the vet’s office. We had somehow saved enough money for them to get their shots. I am adamant about vaccinations, due to my experience at the animal shelter in Mississippi with leaving animals unvaccinated. Every year for Linus’s birthday, I would get them their shots. And with this visit, I could see what was going on with Linus.
Linus was not happy about going to the vet’s office, which was unusual. He didn’t mind being in a carrier without his brother, but he knew that if he was in the space-ship shuttle with his brother, that he was going to the veterinarian. He did not want to go. Mandarin as usual, since the fire at our apartment had happened, was distraught about being in the carrier.
First of course, once I went to the vet’s office, I weighed the babies. Linus was always a joy for weighing because I could just get him to sit and he would stay there for his weight. His weight was up. Silly man, how was his weight up when he barely ate anything?
When it came time to look at Linus’s mouth, the vet tried to open his mouth and Linus screamed and growled, but the vet was able to tap in the back of his mouth. “His teeth are getting sensitive here. You should probably get them out soon.”
I was prepared for that, but yet not. Finances were poor as I had mentioned and I didn’t know where I would get the money. But I was sure I would figure out something.

Chapter 15: I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party
As the weeks progressed, Linus became particularly worse. He would not eat his chicken pouches. He would lick the juice out, but he would not eat his food. I knew he was not getting enough nutrients so my husband and I began to buy Braunschweiger liver sausage - which he went nuts over usually - and shaved turkey from the deli at his work place. He was initially interested, but not excited like he normally was. This was distressing. Soon even these foods began to hurt him and he would yelp from them. My husband would sit in the floor, feeding liver sausage to him by hand, begrudgingly at first, then surrendering to what it means to have someone trust you.
Linus I could feel was light. Lighter than his brother Mandarin. This was devastating to me. Every time Linus would look at me, I would tell him I loved him. And every time I told him I loved him I would pet him. My husband was getting annoyed. He thought I was paying too much attention to Linus. I explained to my husband that Linus was sick, and therefore he got the most attention. When my husband had to have surgery for his varicose veins, or when he fell and the cartilage folded back inside of his knee, and he had to get surgery for that, he got the most attention, but that now it was Linus’s turn. It was only fair.
I began to call other vet’s offices, to get quotes on teeth extraction. I called anyone within a 100 mile radius. I didn’t know how I would get Linus there, but if the price was right, that is where I would go. Most of the places were exceedingly expensive, and would not consider even looking at him without blood work being done, and an evaluation of his organs, which at minimum was $90 I didn’t have. I even ended up making an appointment in Iron River (because she would take payments), which I did not end up keeping because I came up with enough money to bring him to my local vet, to sedate him, to look at his teeth.
Without the money for extraction, I proceeded with the appointment on August 20th to sedate him, just to see how much work would need to be done on his mouth. I was alone, and Wally was at work.
Thursday I had taken him to the vet to have his mouth looked at. When he got on the scale, Linus had lost 3 pounds. Dr. Lindstrom was taken aback by the weight loss. My vet is usually quite reserved and calm, but the look of shock on his face was something I couldn‘t fail to notice. The vet gave Linus a shot to sedate him, and took Linus in the other room. I paced in the waiting room, alone, until the vet called me into the surgery room to look at Linus’s unconscious body laying on the metal surgery table. The vet looked positive, so I stayed positive as I followed him, but when I saw Linus, I became unsettled. I didn’t like the way he looked unconscious on the surgery table. He didn’t look comfortable, which didn’t make sense.
In short, Linus’s mouth was a horror show. I had never seen a mouth look that bad. To be more specific, there were bleeding areas, there were infected swollen areas, there were teeth broken, roots and gums exposed, and even though he was supposedly unconscious, when the vet took his utensil and showed me the damage by gently touching the teeth, my cat’s mouth chattered, he growled and he tried to scream. How could he feel this pain being unconscious as he was?
I thought I had been devastated the year before. Now I truly was. Having just poured a whole bunch of money into the car to get it fixed, so we would have a car, and the money we had poured into getting my wisdom teeth removed, we were broke. We had been broke and were staying broke. And now the money to pour into his mouth was going to be over $358. $358 I didn’t have. And they prepared me by saying that the procedure would probably be a lot more expensive.
I was crying when I saw Linus’s mouth. Everybody else at the vet clinic remained calm and positive.
What was causing this degeneration of my cat’s mouth? It couldn’t simply be old age. My cat was only nine, and as Dr. Paul and I had talked and joked about before, Linus being half Siamese, he didn’t end up with any of the good qualities of being a Siamese except for his looks. Siamese are prone to tooth issues, and it seemed that Linus was not going to be immune to this issue.
Linus had what were called “neck lesions”. I did not know what this was and have now done a lot of research on this matter to better understand what was going on with him. Neck lesions are one of a vast amount of names used to describe tooth resorption. One of the most well-known names for what was going on with Linus is Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions (otherwise known as FORL). This name is becoming out of date, and now the term “tooth resorption” by itself is being used to describe what was going on with Linus.
What is tooth resorption? To be technical, according to the American Veterinary Dental College http://www.avdc.org/?q=node/12, 2010, ©AVDC, Feline tooth resorption typically originates in the cementum, may progress into root dentin, and then either progress through the root, into the crown, or both. Tooth resorption that can be identified on oral examination is an indication for radiographic evaluation and treatment. Intraoral radiography is required to properly evaluate this condition. Whole-mouth radiographs are recommended to evaluate other teeth in the mouth. Complete extraction is the treatment of choice for teeth that have detectable crown resorption but no radiographic evidence of root resorption. Teeth with crown resorption but radiographic signs of advanced root resorption (and no concurrent periodontal disease, periapical periodontitis or stomatitis) may be treated by subgingival amputation.* Either form of treatment should be followed by gingival closure. If there is radiographic evidence of root resorption, but no clinical resorption can be detected on oral examination, the tooth can be "monitored" or preemptively extracted.
Restoration of these teeth is not recommended. Semiannual dental examinations are recommended for all cats with previous diagnosis of tooth resorption.* Radiography should be repeated annually or more frequently as dictated by the oral examination.
tooth resorption is classified based on the severity of the resorption (Stages 1-5) and on the location of the resorption (Types 1-3).

Stage 1 (TR 1):* Mild dental hard tissue loss (cementum or cementum and enamel).
Stage 2: Moderate dental hard tissue loss (cementum or cementum and enamel with loss of dentin that does not extend to the pulp cavity).
Stage 3: Deep dental hard tissue loss (cementum or cementum and enamel with loss of dentin that extends to the pulp cavity); most of the tooth retains its integrity.
Stage 4: Extensive dental hard tissue loss (cementum or cementum and enamel with loss of dentin that extends to the pulp cavity); most of the tooth has lost its integrity.
TR4a Crown and root are equally affected;
TR4b Crown is more severely affected than the root;
TR4c Root is more severely affected than the crown.
Stage 5: Remnants of dental hard tissue are visible only as irregular radiopacities, and gingival covering is complete.

The AVDC classification of tooth resorption is based on the assumption that tooth resorption is a progressive condition.

On a radiograph of a tooth with type 1 (T1) appearance, a focal or multifocal radiolucency is present in the tooth with otherwise normal*radiopacity*and normal periodontal ligament space.
On a radiograph of a tooth with type*2 (T2) appearance, there is narrowing or disappearance of the periodontal ligament space in at least some areas and decreased radiopacity of part of the tooth.

In conclusion, the AVDC states that on a radiograph of a tooth with type*3 (T3) appearance, features of both type 1 and type 2 are present in the same tooth. A tooth with this appearance has areas of normal and narrow or lost periodontal ligament space, and there is focal or multifocal radioluceny in the tooth and decreased radiopacity in other areas of the tooth.
Also, according to Dr. Bonnie Shope, “Data presented at the Veterinary Dental Forum November, 2003 showed that if a cat has one clinical or radiographic resorptive lesion, the unaffected teeth show histologic changes of early resorption. Therefore, we can assume that all teeth are affected by resorption in those cats. We will want to monitor these cats carefully for progression of resorption and treat those lesions as they enter the oral cavity when they become painful.
“The same data also presented early information that treatment with alendronate (Fosamax) may be effective in arresting and in some cases reversing the lesions. At the present time, I am not prescribing alendronate, but may do so in the future if the treatment proves to be effective.”
But for those who aren’t well versed in veterinarian medical verse, as explained to me by the fine Dr. Lindstrom, in laymen’s terms, the substance of tooth at the junction of gum and tooth is digested by the body. This basically means that the body starts attacking the gum and the teeth. For what reason? It is not known at this time. It is thought by many that this aggressive immune response could be caused by a variety of viruses - (herpes virus is one thought) or exposure to such viruses - which I’m sure Linus was exposed to a multitude being in the shelter at Mississippi - but nothing is known for sure. This is primarily a feline disease, but it has been found in dogs, and even humans! It is also typically a disease that affects older cats, but it is not solely an older cat disease. It is not a disease restricted by age barriers. It is not thought to be very contagious, but it does tend to affect purebred cats (especially Siamese and Persians) the most. It also is not restricted to indoor or outdoor cats. Both can be affected. Cats who eat a varied diet seem to be less likely to come down with this disease, so the numbers of outdoor cats having the disease happens to be lower, but it is not a guarantee. Linus for sure had a varied diet, but he also had that whole half-Siamese thing going against him.
Tooth resorption is not preventable at this time. One could brush their cat’s teeth every day, twice a day, give them tartar treats, get their teeth cleaned every year or even twice a year, and if this disease were going to affect them, it would still affect them. The only truly viable treatment is to remove the affected teeth and hope that the mouth of the cat does not degenerate further. Sometimes it does not spread. Sometimes a cat will luck out and it will just be one tooth, or two teeth, but most of the time it spreads because tooth resorption is typically a degenerative disease. Eventually, one will end up taking out all of their kitty’s teeth out. For lots of cats, this is a viable treatment! Most cats do not actually chew their food as a person does. They simply move it around in their mouth until they swallow it. But I knew that Linus had had a difficult enough time in the last year. I knew what his options as far as food went. The outlook in my mind was not positive. Not positive at all.

Chapter 16: Ask Me Why
I called my husband in the car, to let him know how the visit went.
He was rather chipper on the phone. Why were people being so chipper on the phone? My heart was about to explode from pain, and here people were being nice and perky, and I wanted them to show some respect. Some respect for the decision I felt was coming quicker than I was ready for, and to be honest, a decision I never knew if I would be ready for. This was the anger part of grief that I hadn’t experienced in a while. I had presumed I would not have to experience it again, or at least for a very long time, and here it was in full force.
I explained to him how bad Linus’s mouth was looking, and he remained upbeat. “Well we’ll just feed him whatever he wants, and make him comfortable.”
“Anything he wants?” I parroted, my mind wandering to what few options I had left.
Small comfort, but a comfort nonetheless, I thought. Linus loved to eat. Or at least, when he felt well.
I don’t know how Wally had the strength to remain upbeat in the face of my sorrow. Sometimes I think it was because he didn’t love Linus as much as I did. But mostly I think it was because he loves me more than I will ever know. It is a testimony of his strength of character that he tried to remain strong and sweet for me.
Wally would have to pick up Linus after 230 pm. We wouldn’t get paid until later in the day, and payment was expected upon services delivered, so I left Linus there to recover. I had to go to work for 10 o’clock, and so my husband would pick me up from work when I got done. My mom delivered me to Wendy’s and I went to work. A mess. But somehow I made it through the day.
My options were running out, and I was frantic, almost to the point of complete hysterics. I called up my sister Natalie who lives in Janesville and explained to her over the phone saying, “well, maybe I can find someone else who will take him. I will do anything for Linus.”
She calmly in turn explained to me, that no one would take on a cat willingly in our economy in my area that already had problems. That he was my responsibility, no matter what happened, and even if I found someone who was willing to take that responsibility on, that how was Linus going to be content with that? And if I took him to the shelter, there was no chance that they would take him in for the surgery. They would simply euthanize him. He loved me completely. His health would probably degenerate worse if I found him a new home. So I kept him. I thought she was right. What could I do but love him?
My vet has a policy of taking fire wood in lieu of payment. I was convinced at this time, that I would go up to my mother-in-law’s property in Sagola and chop down trees. I didn’t know what I was doing. I had never chopped down a tree before. But I was convinced I would knock down an entire forest if need be to take care of Linus. But his health degenerated at an unbelievably rapid pace and I realized I would rather spend the time with him, comforting him, then to spend the time chopping down trees. And I will explain all of that to you, how I came to my decision to end Linus’s life.

Chapter 17: Baby’s In Black
I slept for a short while that night, only to wake up at 1130. Linus had come in to see me. He was kneading my chest hard, and slobbering, drooling, and his nose dripped, like he liked to do when he was supremely excited to be loving me. I thought he might be hungry.
“Are you hungry, baby?”
His eyes lit up a fraction - nothing compared to how he usually responded to food - and I went into the kitchen with him. I brought out some shaved turkey from the fridge.
We went into the living room and I fed him turkey until he was full, well full, or couldn‘t handle the pain anymore. It was one or the other. It took an extended period of time, because of him yelping from the pain, and running away from his food, but he trusted me so he kept coming back to me. After dinner, I took him back to bed with me. He fell asleep quickly after kneading me a little bit more, and touching my face with his paw. Making sure I was okay.
As my hand laid on him, I was startled to feel his heartbeat become so hard and so fast, I thought he might be having a heart attack. Then it became so faint I thought I was on the verge of losing him. I tried to rouse him, but it took a while. He “prrt”ed at me then went back to sleep. He was still with me. I stayed there, with him, wide awake and crying, and I did not go back to sleep. Around 1, 2, and 3, the heart episodes came again. My cat was either having heart attacks or had a horrible arrhythmia. Shortly after that, Linus woke up purring. He started making his strange dolphin noises and my husband awoke too.
“Did he stay with you all night?” My husband asked.
“What’s wrong?”
“I think he had some heart attacks.”
So I explained what had occurred with Linus. My husband told me, “Well he does that.”
“What?” I asked. I would think I would know if my cat “did that”. I had been with him for almost 9 years. I knew his ins and outs. His ups and downs. I knew everything about him. Now in hind sight, I think my husband was trying to get me not to worry any worse than I already was. But that was impossible.
We rose from bed and fed Linus. It was difficult and took an exceedingly long time until Linus had had enough. Whether that was from pain or being full, again, I‘m not sure. I had the day off, so I would feed him every two hours a little bit of food and try and call vet‘s offices, explain his symptoms to them, try desperately to set up payment plans. It was not that I didn’t trust Dr. Lindstrom, it was just his policy not to take payment plans. Nothing worked. They didn‘t want to operate on a cat that was exhibiting the cardiac symptoms he was exhibiting (except Dr. Lindstrom). Nobody had any pain pills or patches or anything that they were willing to sell to me. They told me they were not effective on cats, and what options were available were too dangerous. Too bad he wasn’t a dog.
Nobody wanted to give me antibiotics. They said without taking the teeth out, that giving him antibiotics was like pouring water on it. It would just not be effective. Linus would just have to be the way he was. It was killing me to know he was hurting.
I know that there are studies that show that cats don’t process the pain the way we do. They don’t feel it until it’s a lot further on then we could ever handle. But I knew he must have been in excruciating pain. The vet told me that when Linus ate in his condition, it was like eating with razor blades in his mouth. Knowing this was having its toll on my body, my mind, and my soul, but every day I would get up early in the morning the next day and start it all over again, then go to work.
The next morning when my mother brought me to work, I had made my decision. August 24th would be the last day I got to see Linus. Except in my dreams.
I couldn’t bear to watch him slowly starve to death. I just didn’t have it in me. And I couldn’t bear to put him through the surgery - even if the money was there - knowing how hard of a time he had from recovering from the first surgery. And to do this again and again to him, was unfair. Even if he had not began to exhibit cardiac symptoms, I still do not know if my decision would have been different. What was the quality of his life? I know that it has been said that cats don’t chew their teeth generally speaking, that they just swallow it. Linus didn’t do that. He chewed his food. He was a weird one.

Chapter 18: In My Life
In the end, my decision was one I made alone. Not to say that other people weren’t giving their advice and support, but it was a decision I had to make by myself. It was a matter of listening to my brain and Linus’s body, betraying both of our hearts.
In the end, my decision was selfishness and selflessness in equal parts, with that one question: How can I watch him waste away in pain? How can I go to work, try to pretend as if everything’s okay and leave the chance that he would die there, subjecting Mandarin to a trauma I would never want him to experience? As Meatloaf said, “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.” I wouldn’t keep Linus here no matter how much I needed him because I loved him too much to see him hurt, and there was no fixing him without a bigger battle than I believed his body could handle. And I knew him better than anybody else. I’m so sorry for betraying him by not being able to save him, but that is what it is. It’s life, which can be cruel and unforgiving sometimes.
I know that I would have done anything, given up anything for him, my dearest friend, but him knowing that, and I knowing that, still wasn’t enough. Inevitably, the betrayal of my brain and his body made my decision for me, leaving a hole in my heart, a vacancy that will never be filled. But that black day must serve a purpose. My loss must not be a complete loss, and that’s why I am writing the memoirs of Linus. To hopefully even save one life, then my loss will have meant something.
It’s not to say that I didn’t listen to people’s input about euthanizing Linus. I remember frantically calling up my priest, Father Mike and telling him the situation.
“I should have put him to sleep on Friday. I still have time to do it today, Father. Or do I wait until Monday? Is it selfish to want him to be with me for a little while longer? To give him his favorite foods, and play his favorite shows and music?”
To paraphrase what he said, he essentially said no. He told me that animals are a comfort for us, but not only that, we are a comfort for them, and to spend a little bit more time in an attempt to comfort them is not a sin.
I told Father Mike about the extractions that could be done, and I told him about the concerns I had about his health, and I asked him if it was wrong of me to just want Linus to go in peace with me, or if I should try and battle for the surgery.
My priest explained that he had two dogs that ended up with the same disorder - not as Linus, but the same as each other. One dog he decided to give the surgery to. It was the first one. The dog didn’t make it. The other one, he decided to euthanize. He explained to me, that we, as humans don’t really know what pain an animal goes through, and how much they may experience on the surgery table as they can not talk to us. That it is sometimes more humane to forgo the treatment. To simply cherish the time that we have left.
I did that.

Chapter 19: While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Saturday, I came home from work to find Wally in the floor crying, trying to feed Linus some liver sausage. They both loved liver sausage and it had always been something Daddy had shared with Linus. But it pained the cat to eat it. Yet he was still trying, because daddy was trying to feed him. After trying to eat, as my husband and I curled up on couch, with Linus between us, there were times where his heart had the episodes again and they were followed by him becoming quite cold and unresponsive. My husband and I whispered to him. “If you have to go, you can go. It’s okay.” He didn’t want to go. I think he was holding on for me. He wanted to continue to nurture me and care for me, even now, when he didn’t feel good. This was the heart of Linus and the heart of love. To give everything of himself at all times.
Wally and I snuck out for a very brief while and purchased a blue plastic container from Shopko to serve as his coffin. Wally wanted grey, because Linus was mostly grey. I wanted blue. Blue to match his eyes. Meanwhile, we made calls and tried to decide where to bury him. I did not want him cremated. I did not want his ashes sitting in my house or thrown away like garbage. There is something that has always been sacred to me about being returned to the Earth. There is nothing wrong with cremation, it’s just a comfort for me, so this is how I made my decision what to do with his body. I wanted to bury him in some place that would be always accessible to me. We decided to bury him.
That night, Mandarin wanted to go for a walk. As I’ve said before I don’t believe in outdoor cats. But, what he thought of as a walk, was to be allowed in the stairwell of our second-story apartment and snoop around. Mandarin went out for a walk, and Linus actually peeked out and joined him. This was atypical for Linus. The sun was shining and he looked tired, but interested. He stared at the windows in the stairwell and contemplated jumping but decided against it. I gently lifted him up into the window area and let him watch outside and smell. It seemed to lighten his mood a small bit but he quickly grew bored. Linus had never been a window watcher, and so this was not surprising to me, so the three of us adjourned to the apartment again.
Sunday, in the morning, I woke up at 330 in the morning. I sat on the couch, and listened to him breathe. I fed him after a while. He was wheezing, which was something new that I did not like but that disappeared quickly. Then I drug him back to bed with me. I was supposed to go to work that day, but Erik - who I am eternally grateful to - had agreed to do both my shift and his shift at the bookstore to give me one last day to spend time with Linus. I was not able to function for work, and the time was cherished.
Throughout the day I talked to him, tried to pet him when he wanted it and I played the Beatles for him. Sometimes he tried to swim for the Beatles, mild little twitches of contentment, but not his usual big power strides of swimming. Mostly he just slept.
At one point I went to see Wally at Econo. I ran into a lady I had gone to school with who was a grade or two younger than me that I had gone to school with. I was on a mission to pick up more shaved turkey for Linus, and some shaved chicken from the deli. I ran into her near the bank. She asked me what was wrong. I told her that my cat was sick and I was going to have to put him to sleep. Her response?
“Good. I hate cats.”
It took all of me not to tell her I hated her face. I hadn’t seen this person for years, had lived my life loving cats and taking care of them. Why would she say something so callous? So heartless? Regardless of her feelings of cats, she should have seen I was in pain, and said, “I’m sorry.” Or “that’s too bad”. Then when she was alone, she could think, “Oh she’s just a crazy cat lady”. Instead of thinking that I was loving my cat as an attack against her. Instead of thinking that no cat is worthy of love. Love is open, love is endless. Love is limitless by species. When you love, you just love. I can’t not love Linus. It’s a part of me as much or more than the fingernails on my hand.
I was civil with her but parted ways. I told my husband about what she had said. My husband was not as understanding of my feelings at the moment. He told me, “Well she was attacked by a cat when she was little, so that’s why she doesn’t like them.”
What? So what’s your point?
I’ve been attacked by countless animals, and I have been attacked by people. I don’t hate animals, and I don’t hate people. It’s just stupid to stereotype and be full of such prejudice. My opinion is that saying you hate cats is like saying you hate humans. There is an exception out there, somewhere, since cats are so varied, just as humans are. I didn’t understand her reaction then and I don’t understand it now. I hope I never will.
Sunday night, the fated night before I was to put him to sleep, he slept in his cat carrier next to the couch on the blanket my mom had hand-sewn for my babies. He was not feeling like himself, he was more like diet-Linus, but that was okay. I just needed to be near him, therefore I slept on the couch in the living room, and my husband slept in the bed in the bedroom.
That morning, I got up again at 330 am. I tried to get him to eat some turkey. It hurt him too badly. I tried to get him to eat some liver sausage. That too, he denied. I wanted his belly full, so after dropping my husband off at work, I stopped off at the Holiday Gas Station - where I had previously worked - across the street from Econo foods and I purchased some Ragu Alfredo sauce. This would be Linus’s last meal.
Upon coming home, he was curled up in bed, on my husband’s yellow tank top that he had slept in, and his blue blanket that I knitted for him for his surgery that he was supposed to have been able to have. It was made out of 100% alpaca purchased from the Rainbow End’s Gift Shop in Norway. The alpaca had a soothing effect on him and his brother Mandarin.
I offered the alfredo sauce to him. He ate a few bites, then pulled his face away with a disgusted look. Not disgusted because of the food, but because of how he was feeling. I knew he loved alfredo sauce. He wanted to eat it, but it was too much for him. In that moment I realized how sick he really looked. I still took his picture on my camera phone. I had to have some last pictures of him.
As the morning progressed, I posted on the forum of www.petlovers.com. I needed support. I needed to vent. I needed to explain my decision. And Linus came out to curl up on the couch. I played The Beatles for him. Mostly “In My Life”, which explained how I felt to him. He slept most of the time, but his ear was cocked to the music, and with this, I knew he was listening to the music. He didn’t want to open his eyes, and he didn’t want me to touch him.
Through the morning, those many dark hours of morning before it was even light out, Linus went to the bathroom about 8 times. He had gone into stealth mode for bathroom visits over the years. He liked to go to the bathroom when we were not home, or when we were all asleep. With this new development, I knew something was desperately wrong and I seriously suspected his kidneys were beginning to go. Every time he would return to the couch, to the area closest to the computer. Sometimes I would pet him. But mostly, he wanted to be left alone. I knew this meant he was not feeling good. He was not himself. He craved my touch. And when I touched him, his body went through spells where it became much colder than it should have been.
The vet’s office opened at 830, so about 8 o’clock I started to round up his personal effects. His Christmas stocking I had stitched together from felt, with his name in baby blue letters on our first Thanksgiving day together, when my horse had hung to death in the stall, and he had comforted me by trying to eat my feet. His first toy, a purple hippo I had bought from Petsmart in Tupelo and stitched together several times - the one with the bell on it. The blanket I had knit for him. A blue blanket for when I couldn’t be with him, and then the huge blanket I had bought from Shopko specifically because it was the color of him. Blacks, browns, grays, creams, and a light blue that matched his eyes. Linus looked at me and purred. And I petted him. He let a little chirp out, and I slid him back into his carrier. He didn’t want to go. He resisted, but he was tired.
Somehow I had driven to Econo Foods. Wally had said that he wanted to get a rose for Linus because those were Linus‘s favorite flower to eat. Really he just wanted to say goodbye to Linus. Part of Wally wanted me to wait until he got off work to take him with me to put Linus to sleep, but truly, it wasn’t going to work. I would either a.) end up postponing and Linus would be in even more pain or b.) end up postponing and Linus die at home traumatizing Mandarin, or c.) I would just chicken out completely. So I had made the decision to take him in first thing in the morning. The night before I had confessed to my husband that I was scared to live without him. That was the most honest statement I can tell you about my grief.
I don‘t remember exactly what he said when I brought Linus to see daddy for the last time. I was distraught, and trying to hold it together. But it was something like this: “Hey big guy. I love you. Bye big guy.” He had snuck out to say goodbye to Linus. When I asked him who was covering the department, he said “I don’t care. I don’t care if I get in trouble.”
My sister called me on my cell as I was on my way to the vet’s office. They opened at 830 am. I don’t recall what time it was, but it was close to that time when she called. I made the journey back to my mom’s house in the heights of Kingsford where she was staying. Natalie told me over the phone not to go alone, and that she would take me. And she would take me to Sagola to bury him.
She instructed me to call the vet’s office to let them know that we were on our way, so I called them on my cell phone and let them know I was coming to euthanize him.
I sang my Linus song to him as we drove to Niagara. I dissolved into tears, trying to stay strong for him. I really don’t think that Linus know he wasn’t coming home with me. Linus just knew we were hurting and he was upset about being in the cat carrier. He knew he was going to the vet’s office, and last time he had gone had not been fun, so he anticipated that this time would not be fun either.
I told him as we drove to the vet‘s office, “The Doctor is going to make you feel better. It’s okay. All your pain is going to go away.” He was not impressed.
The last song that was playing as we pulled up to the vet’s office was “(I Got a Feeling) Tonight’s Going To Be a Good Night” by the Black-eyed Peas. It seemed rather disgusting and insensitive at the time. I’m sure the local radio station didn’t intend for that to be happening. Later on, I was able to eventually not sob, as I heard the song played repeatedly, and I grew to love it again. Linus would be having a good night every night from now on.
When we got to the vet’s office, first thing’s first, Diane told me how sorry she was. Then we had to weigh Linus again. By this point Linus was getting cold again. Besides that, he had lost more weight. I can’t recall how much, but he had lost weight. I could probably look it up, but I try not to look at his charts. The charts are 7 pages of a life that was far more vibrant and beautiful than the vet could have captured. He knows that too.
Next, the vet came out to give Linus a sedative. He looked annoyed. I imagine that this is his look for most euthanasias to maintain composure, because I had seen the look before. In fact, the vet I had worked with before had owned the same expression when she put animals to sleep. Perhaps that look is taught in a class. I’m not sure as I have never been to veterinary school. It’s not to say he was annoyed with me. I just imagine that he was trying to maintain his composure, and did not enjoy this element of his job as much as other parts of his job. Everyone, even in their dream job, has something they don’t enjoy.
A little while later, Natalie and I took Linus into the designated cat room. We put his space shuttle on the table, and fished him out. The vet came in with some worker - I’m not really sure who because I was upset - and shaved his leg to expose a vein. I continuously talked to Linus, even though he was so sedated and thusly I‘m not sure he heard everything I had to say. I told him he would feel better soon. I lied and told him I would be okay. That I would be fine without him. I petted his fur, now silky, as opposed to his toddler raccoon hair. My tears fell onto his fur, making it sparkle.
“It’s okay. It’s going to be okay. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.”
Then there was the injection as I professed my undying love for Linus, though he lay there dying.
“Is he gone?” I asked, petting Linus, loving Linus.
“They go almost instantly.” The vet explained. And he and his assistant left the room.
My sister hugged me and told me she was going to “get his container” and I sobbed. I bawled. And I screamed my pain into Linus’s soft fur. The fur I would never get to touch again after these last painful moments. That strange fur that was always three colors on every strand that was shed. I held his limp body and sobbed. The moment was rather anti-climactic. One moment he was there. The next moment he was not. But I was changed forever.
It seemed no time at all, and Natalie was coming into the room, carrying his coffin which contained his belongings. My private moment arrested. No one could hurt as much as I was hurting then, I thought, but there was a reason.
My dear friend Jennie told me later, that the only reason I hurt so much is so that Linus didn’t have to. Those words were and are the comfort that help me make it through some of my darkest most lonely painful days.
With coffin ready, I placed the large plaid Linus-colored blanket in, I picked Linus’s limp body up and carefully put him in there, and my sister helped me tuck his personal effects around him, ending with tucking him under his blue blanket. As almost an after thought, I put him into “floppy head” position, for his maximum comfort. That’s how he slept when he was most happy, with his head upside down. That’s how I wanted to remember him. Happy. Then the cover went over.
Natalie took him out to the car, putting him in trunk while I paid for the services rendered. A sympathetic lady came up to me, and told me, “I know what you’re going through. I’ve been through this many a time.” And she amicably chatted over me to Diane as I paid the lady.
The ride to Sagola - which normally takes 30 minutes - took no time at all in my grief-stricken mind. He was buried in the flower garden, beside two of my mother-in-law’s deceased cats, so that way he’s not alone. And when it is Mandarin’s time, he can lay next to his brother. It seemed the best thing to do. Natalie and my mother-in-law’s husband Fritz helped me dig the grave.
Then after many hugs and words that were meant to be comforting, Natalie and I left. A part of me screamed as we pulled away. To leave Linus there, well, it didn’t seem right. But nowhere could I have left him and made it feel right. My mother-in-law tells me she goes out every morning and talks to him. It is a small comfort.
When I came home, I threw away his alfredo sauce. I had let him lick right out of it, and didn’t feel I could eat alfredo sauce anytime soon. The rest of the day was a blur of crying and trying to function.

Chapter 20: I’ll Cry Instead
The next day, I cleaned out Linus and Mandarin’s litter box. I wanted to get rid of everything that would remind me of him being sick. Except the last of his turkey. That’s frozen in the fridge. I don’t think I will ever enjoy turkey like I used to before losing Linus.
When I emptied out the litter box, I was shocked to find it had clumped over half way full because of pee. From doing cat boxes for years, I know the difference between poop and pee clumps, even in diarrheic form.
I sobbed.
My kitty had been even sicker than I had previously thought. Three days, and it was completely half full of pee.
And the next day I went back to work.
Work was a blessing. Being home was absolute agony. I was where Linus should be but he was not. The apartment seemed unbearably empty. Mandarin either hid under the couch or paced through the house furtively looking for his brother. Mandarin and I, well, I imagine we both felt the same way. Confused and overwhelmed with loss. Unfortunately I couldn’t explain to Mandarin in a way he could understand that Linus wasn’t coming back. If I could, I wonder if he would have forgiven me.
One day it was almost too much for me. The pain was so real. Mandarin proceeded to curl up with a framed picture of Linus and go to sleep, in the same position he would go to curl up with Linus when he was around. It was too much. Something had to change. I knew he didn’t know it was a picture of Linus but for me, mentally, emotionally, it was too much.

Chapter 21: I’ll Follow the Sun
In some ways it’s hard to write about Linus, to talk about him, and in other ways that’s all I want to do. I used to just bottle up everything until I exploded. All my bad emotions I bottled up and I felt like it nearly killed me every time it happened. I am now trying to live with my emotions. I try to think of myself as living with a pre-school full of kids in my head and my heart, and they all have their own personality and emotion. "That's just Anger. She never stays around long." or "This is Grief, the peskiest of all of them, because she's the most complicated." or "And there is Love, who is my favorite of all." etc.,. etc.,. You know, let them all have their own playtime so I don't end up being psycho she-hulk and letting them all out at the same time. So that's why I write. Trying not to bottle up things inside.
With Linus I didn’t have to bottle up as much. I shared with him. He never judged. He just loved. Linus ended up being everything I wanted and needed and everything I wanted to be. He knew what he liked. He enjoyed food. He enjoyed love. He was patient to a fault so even the things he didn’t want to do, he did, because he loved me and he trusted me and wanted for me to be happy. He taught me about priorities and responsibility. He was my reason for doing everything. Going to work to jobs I loved or hated, for sticking it out in the most unbearable situations. For seeking joy even in the worst of times. And he helped me to appreciate that which I loved, even to a greater extent than I had before. For example, the Beatles. I had forgotten how much I used to play The Beatles during his toddler years, and one day brought home Across the Universe as a rental from the video store. As unbelievable and incomprehensible as it is to even some of the most devoted animal lovers, the truth is that while I played that movie, he swam and purred. By swimming I mean that he was kneading the air. My husband and I called it swimming. So with that knowledge, when I knew his end was near, I played The Beatles for him, and with this, provided a small measure of comfort to him in a way I couldn’t do in any other fashion.

Chapter 21: Across the Universe
"Maybe he was wallowing in it, and so what? Chances were very good that the next time he woke, he would be alone, all alone, his best friend stolen from him by a sickness that never should have been...

Thaddeus forced himself to smile for her, "That's right. It is over. We can rest now. Rest, my love."

She smiled back and closed her tired eyes. He wanted to scream, felt a million promises and regrets and plans rise into the tornado of his thoughts, the desperate need to do something, anything, sweeping over him like the sickness that had so effectively taken over their lives. Something had to be done to give meaning to this nightmare, to make this terrible, black day less so."
-- an excerpt from the book "Inception", by S D Perry & Britta Dennison

And with this thought, this inspiration, this movement in this statement, I came up with the inspiration to write a book of Linus, and with this book, maybe, just maybe, it will bring enough awareness for this disease that people will make the strides to find a cure for this disease and less babies - regardless of fur or lack thereof - will have to have this pain, and less people will be put into the situation I never thought I would have to be in. If nothing else, it will bring awareness to his disease, and so other parents will be prepared, if this happened to their little one. If I make the difference in just one life, all of this will have meant something.
But you may ask of me, would you do this again? Would you go through the pain of losing Linus, even to that disease, knowing what you know now? Would you go through life with Linus?
Yes. With every fiber of my being, going through life with Linus was worth it. For the love he gave me made it all worth it. I would do it a million and one more times. I would perform one solid day with him like in the Groundhog’s Day movie over and over and over again. I would. No hesitation. But if I had been more prepared, if I had known about what I would go through with him, I would have done a million things to make it easier on him and me. Like playing the Beatles more often.
Living without Linus was and is still difficult. In some ways, it is the hardest grief I have been with, because he absolutely loved me unconditionally, and he never left. He didn’t go out of town, or go to work. He was a part of my home. To have someone be a part of your home, well, losing him was like losing my bed in the apartment. Without the bed, the home is not complete. Without Linus, my apartment is not complete.
What would Linus Van Pelt from the Peanuts comics be without his blanket? His blanket was his source of comfort and strength. My Linus was no different. But what if his blanket had been a person, or had sentience? How would his blanket survive with the absence of Linus?
I am learning of that. I am learning how to deal with that. I have taken my grief and am planting it for spiritual growth. I am trying to make his loss a difference. I need to make it mean something, because my Linus meant everything to me.
Mandarin and I were distraught without Linus. Mandarin paced up and down the apartment looking for his brother, and I sobbed until I thought I couldn’t cry anymore. Then I cried more. I still got up at 3 am to feed Linus but he wasn’t there. I woke up in the night expecting him to be perched on my shoulder. He wasn’t there. I am still trying to adjust to sleeping the night through. My sleep patterns don’t appreciate change, and take a long time to adjust.
August 24th Linus left me, and September 3rd, in tribute to Linus, and to preserve Mandarin and my sanity, I adopted a cat from the animal shelter. She is my first girl kitty to keep ever. Her name is Majel - after Majel Roddenberry (RIP) the a beloved actress, and the wife of Gene Roddenberry (RIP), creator of Star Trek) since she has a slit in her ear that looks like the Vulcan Salute. It is also Cherokee for “Help“, which goes hand in hand with Linus’s love for the Beatles and his love for Star Trek.
Majel helps me by laying in Linus’s spot on the back of the couch, and his spot in the floor. She talks loudly, and frequently. She rubs against my legs and screams when I’m going to the bathroom, so I don’t have to go to the bathroom alone. She plays tug of war, but most importantly she loves it when I sing, and sings with me. And she will occasionally let me dance with her. But only slow songs. It is the start of something beautiful.
Mandarin who had never been really close to me has blossomed since Linus’s departure and Majel’s emergence into our home. He truly goes out of his way to ask for me to touch him. His attention span is still quite negligent, even as he reaches for some of those upper years, but he tries. He was never much of a nurturer. Some nights he curls up on my shoulder, or my chest but it’s not the same. He doesn’t curl up the way Linus did with me.
But everywhere I look, even though every where I look I see things that remind me of Linus, or songs that remind me of him, I try to keep up beat. There are times when I fall, though.
Still when I drive home, I excitedly think for brief moments that I can’t wait to see Linus when I get home. This conflicts with the thoughts of seeing Majel there, because this would be a time-continuity issue, but yes, still even now, I expect to see his furry face and those piercing Paul Newman like blue eyes when I come home.
Sleeping was a challenge at first. Some nights it still is. Some nights, or early mornings I wake up and call for him. He is not there to call back. My husband hushes me gently and I go back to sleep. Most nights, I understand he won’t be there. Slowly this begins to fade with time.
Going to McDonald’s was impossible at first. Linus loved their chicken McNuggets. I bought a whole bunch of the chicken and peeled off the skin for him to try and get some sustenance in him during the last month and a half of his life.
Going to the deli was almost impossible. Most of his last meals were from Econo.
Cooking was almost impossible. Nobody was there to “help” me cook. Linus’s piercing blue stare was not there to monitor me, to watch me like I was a cook on Food Network.
Listening to the radio was absolutely horrifically painful at first. Everywhere I turned there was a song being played by the Beatles. Everywhere I went I heard Black Eyed Peas’ song “Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night”.
Even watching Star Trek was horrendously difficult at first. When the new Star Trek movie came out, I teared up while watching it. Linus had missed the new Star Trek movie. He would not be able to watch it with me.
Being sick was even worse without Linus. Linus would perch on my shoulder until I felt better, touching my face gently from time to time, to make sure I was okay. If I was on the toilet for too long, he would come bounding to me, and reach up and touch my face, and squawk. He wanted to make sure I was okay.
One day, I went to Walgreens with my mom to do some shopping. I was actually having a really good day. Until I ran into canned chicken $3/3 on the rack. I thought to myself, well, how much do I have at home? I should pick up some for Linus! I left Walgreens and had a meltdown. I felt so stupid. Why couldn’t I just get over these habits? Linus is gone, and I couldn’t get over looking for chicken for him. But now I think I will almost always look at cans of chicken and think of him. It was a delight to care for him. I miss taking care of him.
Returned to my mom's house for a little bit, then had to get back into the car because we were leaving for errands. When I turned on the car, on the radio was playing Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" followed by "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by the Beatles. I think Linus was trying to tell me to look up. What a great man.
I know Linus wants for me to look on the bright side of life. To enjoy life to its fullest. But he also wants for me to help. He loved that I helped him. He loved that I helped by fostering critters. I continue to want to be that person. In doing that, in trying to recover - what a strange word - still help others. What is one re-covering in recovery? Anyways, in my recovery I have been using music to soothe the savage beasts that live inside my heart. Those conflicting and monstrous emotions that take their toll on my body, heart and mind.
Music has made a huge difference in my life. It has always been a huge influence in my life, but with my grief it has helped astronomically. Coldplay, Mika, Damien Rice, the Beatles, Neutral Milk Hotel, Pink, Elliot Smith, Johnny Cash, Cat Stevens, Sad Kermit, Radiohead, Lilly Allen, and much more. I keep in mind that Linus would never want me to give up my love for music. Music is much of a part of me as my love for Linus is.
People who think I am anthropomorphizing Linus, have not known a cat the way I knew him. Or at least that cat. He was everything a cat was, and more. Yes, he was a cat, but ultimately he was my friend. And there is nothing in this world that will ever make me believe that he didn’t love me as much as I loved him, and that he would have done anything to help me that he knew to do. And as much as there was a lot to our cerebral world we humans inhabit that he did not understand or care to understand, there was so much that he emotionally understood that even I was blown away by.
And for those people who still think he was “just a cat”, well, a cat is just as much as you put into them. Just like a child, your job, your style, your cooking. Whatever work and love you put into it, you will see it reflected in the ultimate picture of what it has become.
Linus became a greater cat because of the love and time I put into him. There is no doubt of that. And in the wrong hands, Linus would have been abused, neglected, thrown out, perhaps even shot, or drowned. He came to the right home, because what I didn’t know from ignorance, I made up for with love.

Chapter 22: With a Little Help From My Friends
I just don't like breaking down at work, and I don't want to take it out on my coworkers or my customers. It's not their fault that I lost Linus. So that's why I'm working hardcore on my emotions off work. I've realized that if I bottle up too long I cause myself actual physical pain besides the emotional, psychological and mental pain, so I'm working on working out my emotions in a more constructive way.
I never thought it would be easy. I just never imagined it would be this hard, either. I thought if you made the right decision it would make it easier. I can't imagine how this could have been harder. I feel like I've lost half of me. And I figured you could only grieve so much, right? I mean, I'd already lost 8 family members, I thought I had worn all the grief out of me. No, I think I've just made myself even more vulnerable.
I know to not have hurt as bad as I have would be to trivialize what we had.
When I lost my step-daughter, there was nothing we could have done to prevent it. At the time they weren't promoting meningitis shots, and even if she had had it doesn't mean it would have saved her from that strain. It was a fast death and painful and traumatic, but the biggest loss for her was not being able to get to see her grow old. I yearned for that. Now I see commercials for the meningitis shots and I feel pride. Less people will have to die now because of some of the various strains of meningitis.
My father, I felt guilt for because he had a cold two weeks prior to his death and now we realize it was congestion in his heart, not just congestion from a cold that was a sign of his demise. But in the end, there's no way I could've made him go to the doctor. He was a stubborn man, and my mom was having a lot more health issues - we thought - than him at the time.
When my father-in-law died it was painful but it was a relief. His battle of cancer had left him a skeleton.
As much as I loved Kazi, it didn't hurt half as bad as it does with Linus. I think the preparation was a big factor. When I had Kazi put to sleep it was a relief. He had been sick his whole entire life, and to be able to let him go hurt so bad because he was so happy to see me, but I knew there was no coming back from where he had been allowed to deteriorate. With Kazi, I had the chance to prepare myself the whole extent of his life because he had been sick most of his life.
I still miss each of these losses, and more.
How do I feel? How holey can your heart get and still function? I'm sure mine looks like Swiss cheese!!!!! Well that was supposed to be funny, but probably didn't seem that way...
Actually, lately, I feel more normal. Yet still, a lot of days, I feel like I've been amputated and I'm learning to live without that limb. To do everything over again.
You would think with all the stages of grief that I've gone through repeatedly, that I would be able to be like, "oh yep.. I should experience this emotion for this designated amount of time, and this and this," but it doesn't work like that. Please, nobody ever fool yourself that grief follows a timetable. It takes as long as it needs to. And yes, there are sometimes relapses.
Grief is complicated. But yes, still, even now, I think it was worth it. Everything was made worthwhile by Linus. I will just have to relearn seeing life in rose-tinted glasses. Some days I fake it. But as I’ve said before and is my general life motto: “Life is too short to be unhappy all of the time”, and I also say, “Well if you fake that smile long enough it will become real.” I believe that too.
Frequently I make slide shows to moving songs with his pictures, making personal music videos, or I listen to angry music interspersed by sad music to try and force out some of the emotions. If I give them free rein for a while, then I can compose myself when necessary and be normal for a little while. At least that's my theory. Sometimes I feel like breaking things. But most of the time, I’m okay. I have to be. And in the end, I will meet Linus at the Rainbow Bridge, and we will move onto another journey. After that, we will make our way to the clearing at the end of the woods, and every night is gonna be a good night.
Meanwhile, he is still living in my heart, and he will never leave me. I will just make more furry friends and hopefully human friends along the way. He will like that too. I have a lot more saving animals to do.
Thank you Sheila for bringing Linus in to my life. It was one of the greatest gifts of friendship I have yet received. He was my gift of love. And you were right, he definitely wasn’t colored like any of my other kitties. But I’m still leaving my heart open for another one that color, just in case.

Chapter 23: I Am the Walrus
Saturday May 22 2010, I stood awaiting my shower to warm and a feeling came over me like none other. I first was saying, “I miss you Linus” and then I realized, I don’t have to miss him. He gave me every ounce of love he could be and what he was had become me. How could I miss a part of me, when it was still with me? I realized that my love would never end, and that I would never not love him, but as the cats were in the kitchen, I felt Linus’s tail against my leg. I looked down, and didn’t see him, but that didn’t take away the feeling. I think Linus was saying “see you later”. Until we meet again. Deep serenity, comfort, and relief flooded me, along with an elation I hadn’t truly felt in a long time. Everything is going to be okay. I still have Linus with me. Because he gave me everything that was his, and I am him, and we are all together. Yet, even though this may be his “see you later” I still hope I will see him in my dreams. After all, I loved him most.

Names that I Considered For Linus
Kendra (if he had been a girl)
Andre Linogue
A Few of Linus’s Nicknames
(From all those that have loved or at least tolerated him before)
Linus Ba-titus Con-citus (Don’t know if it’s even a real name but it was a nonsensical Roman adaptation I made to his name)
Mis-to Gey (after the character Mr. Grey in the movie “Dreamcatcher”)
Handsome Man
Old Man
Liver Sausage
Fat Man (Mandarin was Little Boy)
Chicken (or at least he always turned his head when I said the word ;))
Pork Chop
Tender Loin
Pork Steak
2 Liter (Mandarin was Half Pint)

And actually probably much more. Good thing he was a smart cat and had already figured out what his name really was.

Still crammed in that tiny apartment, with my husband and two cats, we had no room for another cat in our place. Going to the animal shelter had become part of my therapy. To try and find some of the love that I have lost not having Linus in my life.
I completely wasn't planning on falling in love on August 24th, exactly a year after having lost Linus. I've worked with hundreds if not thousands of cats at the Mississippi and the Michigan animal shelters I've attended. Only three times had I completely fallen head over heels in love. Cricket, of course, the first. A little swirly orange tabby boy I called Romeo (RIP little guy), and then of course Mandarin who immediately upon arrival at home wanted nothing to do with me.
There she was, in the cage. I had paid attention to all the beautiful babies but her. And she completely had my attention as soon as I laid eyes on her. She made me gasp aloud, she was so beautiful. She was a diluted tortie point Siamese mix with big dilated eyes that had a ring of that Paul Newman blue around them. It was almost as if I was seeing Linus again. My eyes blurred, and for a brief second it WAS as if I was seeing him again.
But there was something a little bit off about her. I realized - once my eyes had cleared of that brief sheet of moisture - that she was blind. It read on her card that she was fixed, front declawed and THIRTEEN years old.
What monster would drop her off at that age?
I petted her for an hour in her cage - she was on the top set of cages, so not as close to the floor. When I petted her, she drooled and her purr was a startling mirror of Linus's purr. Tears fell from my eyes. I heard one of the workers tell me, "Don't cry."
I scooped her out of the cage and held her. She licked my arms. Initially I thought she was having a hard time breathing and perhaps having cardic issues. It wasn't that. It was that she would just not stop purring.
The devil's advocate came casually "checking" the cats in the other room, whispering to me that the cat was free.
"What?" I said. My heart exploded with possibilities. Not my mind. My mind was overloaded and my heart was working off of love and need and how to fulfill that immediate need.
"Well the owner dropped her off because he got a new girlfriend who had two kittens and they didn't all get along. We found out she has hypertension so she's on meds. But for YOU she would be free."
I told her I would discuss it with my husband.
Leaving Shebrie behind was one of the hardest things I've had to do. And I kept doing it. I would see her 2-3 times a week. I was determined if something medically worsened her status, and she couldn't make it, I would be there for her. I would give her as much love in the meantime as possible. I told the shelter if anything happened as far as needing room, that I would take her home, and suffer the wrath of my husband.
Shebrie knew my name. She became quite excited when she would hear my voice, and she would look for me. Her purr set my heart ablaze. If I closed my eyes, it was just like holding Linus again. I stopped crying when I visited her and I rejoiced. I started to feel truly alive again. I started to notice the differences, and not just the similarities and rejoice in those too. I rejoiced in the individuality. The fact she would always hold all of her whiskers out at complete attention to "see".
I was also frantic for a solution to this problem. I needed Shebrie in my life. I needed her to have a happy ending. I needed her not to just suffer in a cage, a victim of her blindness and age. Of course had she been a kitten she would have been gone immediately, she was that beautiful.
With my room leaking to my apartment, and only room for one cat box, it truly wouldn't be fair to ask my husband - although I did - if she could come home with me. I was running out of ideas, running out of options.
One day my mom called me up to see what I was doing. I told her I was visiting my Shebrie. (She was mine, even if I never got the opportunity to bring her home. I loved her that much.) My mom was insulted that I didn't bring her with me. (I don't usually ask my mother because she's usually too tender-hearted to really enjoy going to the shelter.) I turned my car around and picked up my mom and we went to the shelter.
"I came to see my girl," I beamed to one of the workers.
Shebrie heard my voice and of course knew she would have a short dose of freedom and more of my endless love. I took her into my arms and loved her. She even let my mother hold her.
I saw a weakening in my mom's demeanor and her green eyes.
"Do you think she could stay at my house?"
"M-mom, would you want her to stay at your house?" I asked, my voice wavering from excitement, and the fear of hoping.
"She's really sweet. I really like her. But we have to find out more about her health."
We resigned ourselves to wait and see how her next doctor appointment went.
September 23, 2010, exactly 10 years after Linus came into my life, Shebrie Joy came home to stay at my mother's. Now I can see her anytime I want, and she has room to roam, a "brother" cat and dog to spend time with, and a human "brother" - initially reluctant - who loves her so much that he spends the night on the couch in the basement so she doesn't have to be alone. Basement-land is the domain we started her out on - where the cat boxes, food and water are kept, and it's also the tv room and the place with the best heating/cooling in the house - and that is the domain that she very gently rules.
Second chances don't come much in life. I feel Shebrie has been given a second chance, and in a lot of ways, me. She is so much like my Linus it is absolutely miraculous and yet such an individual. I feel like I have been given a second chance to say hello and goodbye again to Linus, and in some ways see him grow old like I did not have the chance with him. I know that sounds morbid, but that time will come and I will be able to say goodbye again to him, and to see someone I love completely grow old and be old in ways I didn't get to experience with him, and well I babbling onward, getting to the point, think it's wonderful. I look at it as a blessing. A blessing to have more closure, and more acceptance, and ultimately more love. I know she is NOT Linus, but she fills me with so much joy and so much peace like I have not felt since I had Linus curled up with me. And she rubs me and she feels the same way he did. If she had stripes, she would look almost identical to him. I feel like a new person. She is truly a gift. I think Linus sent her to save me. I feel saved. Shebrie is a truly giving selfless cat. And to have that back again I think HAS saved me. I can be a better mommy to my other kitties now, because I am closer to coming back to being the person that I was before, except of course better, because I have known and loved Linus and have opened my heart to love Shebrie. Majel especially notices a difference and has been extra smoochy to me. Mandarin, on the other hand, has become more aloof - which was standard when Linus was here - to me, which is fine. He's not AS aloof, but he's not as smoochy as he felt he had to be for a while.
Perhaps some things are truly meant to be.
And the new home, this blessed homecoming... well my mother says she's not really my cat anymore. My brother says she's not really my cat anymore, but I know she is. (A part of me will always be hers, and she will always be mine. She still is happy whenever I came over.) But I'm sharing half of her between the two of them. I love the confused look on people's faces when I say that I have 2 and a half cats. And it gives me the excuse to tell her story, and to tell Linus's story again and again and again.
Shebrie is part of the message. She Be Joy.
And to not share joy, well, that's a sin!

Deep Thoughts
I just wanted to take the time to thank all of my friends and family for being endlessly patient with me during this project. Writing about Linus has been very cathartic, but I couldn’t do it without the support of the people and animals I love in my life. Thank you for listening to me continue to speak of Linus. Thank you for reading about Linus, and allowing me to continue to write about Linus. I don’t want to ever feel like I can’t talk or write about him. Those who love me know, he was a part of me, and will always be and I love you for loving me, just as I am. Remember I feel the same for you.

05-24-2010, 10:43 AM
liz, i just started reading this, and i want to come back and give it my full attention. It looks good so far what i have read (i didnt know you had a manx cat? cool)

05-25-2010, 01:50 PM
Cactus was the first cat in my life, and was my mother's that she had when she met my dad. And yes, he was a manx.

Can't wait to hear what you have to say, the good, the bad, and the squishy...

05-26-2010, 03:20 PM
I've got it copied into another document. I'll read over it over the next few days. This is a novella. 26,000 words. How long did it take?

05-27-2010, 06:59 AM
I started in January... and I finished in April, I think. I was really wanting to crank it out because the faster I write it the faster I can publish and the faster I can make a difference. I'm sure I could fluff it out if they need more, but this is the bare bones of the story, and definitely to the heart of the matter.

05-29-2010, 07:03 AM
I have just read chapter one, and i am loving it. i want to do each chapter at a time and fully digest it.

the story is beautiful and a very sad start, i wish i had seen monkey - he sounded perfect. I am very sorry that you lost him but very glad that you found him for such a short time

05-30-2010, 04:29 AM
Monkey was perfect, sickness and all. I can say that, even knowing Linus who was perfect. I am still outrageously happy that I got to have Monkey with me even though it was for such a short time. Monkey was my second son. Kazi, being my first. Linus my third. I am glad you are enjoying it so far, and look forward to how you perceive the book.

05-31-2010, 07:57 AM
i just read 2,3 and 4. It seems .... abrupt, if thats the right word. I want to know more about how you trained him, how he came around. You tell us but you don't give a lot of details about hw you felt, about day to day life and any little habbits that he had that you discovered in him I am sure there were times when you cried over him and i am sure there were other times when you cried tears of joy over him?

This is in no way to distract from your story, as i am finding it wonderful to read.

Its giving me hope with Smudge who is still very much a wild cat and until starting to read your book i was unsure if she would ever come around - now i have hope so thank you:couple:

In chapter 4 there is a small part that is a little confusing for the reader:
Once I had rehomed Oscar - due to my lack of stability - and I had rehomed Dante, I made my journey back Up North but before then, I shall show

you are talking about rehoming dante and oscar, so the reader automatically assumes you are describing those two cats in your next sentence, there needs to be some reference back to Linus before you tell us you will show us a glimmer of the kind of cat Linus was to become.

I am really enjoying this book Liz, i hope you do not mind the feedback, it is meant in a very loving and loyal way. I am looking forward to reading the remaining chapters. If you do not want to feed back you MUST tell me as i know this book is very close to your heart and the last thing i want to do is to annoy you with my feedback:couple:

06-01-2010, 07:14 AM
Yay! Feedback! See, me writing the story and my familiarity with my life, I can sometimes assume that someone else is knowing what I'm talking about. This is why I need feedback so I can make it understandable enough to others. I never thought that this version would neccesarily have to not have some changes. I was in such a flurry to write the story, and get everything down it may be confusing at bits, but I can fix that! :) If it's confusing, I need to fix it. I'm sure you wouldn't belittle my relationship with Linus, or the emotions that I do put into the book, and adding more emotions that I felt at times is something I can definitely do. If the book isn't good, then I can't reach the audiences I want to, because I won't be able to find someone to represent me and I won't be able to make the difference I want to. Thank you for being so kind. I know you're not here to slam me. :rock:

Also I had hard decision including or excluding parts of my life. See this is supposed to be Linus's story, not just my auto-biography. I know they are kind of entwined, but I didn't want to include extraneous material. Perhaps if something seems missing, that would be something I could add to, but I won't know it through my eyes. That's also why I need feedback. I want to make this the best book it can possibly be.

06-03-2010, 06:12 AM
I'll be back after I've perused it more. I sure wish I could print it for review.

06-03-2010, 08:40 AM
It is still a rough draft.. if you would like to print it and can, woofer, and it would make it easier for you to, feel free.:rose:

06-04-2010, 08:37 AM
This is a must for anyone who has had an animal friend. Thus far I have displayed both tears and smiles. This work has evoked many memories of growing up with many cats and a few dogs. MY Linus was named "Heather." I find this work difficult to "put down." Chapter one is read and I will be back for more. I must go to work.

06-06-2010, 12:46 AM
Holy CoW!!!!!!!!

At the end, Linus could officially do on command:

Give paw - although you had to put the treat into the center of his paw so that way he could pop it into his mouth like a piece of candy
Chuff - a noise that a lot of the big cats do when they are happy, he would make on command.
the “F” game - when we would deliberately say an F word, like “Food” or “Frisbee”, etc.,. he would go Fff… He had his own “F” word.
Speak - although when he spoke it would be in strange dolphin-like cries. He would make dolphin-like chattering noises when he was overly excited.
Dance/Snake charm - he would sway back in forth in the beg position, in a dance move. My husband called it snake charm, because he looked like a snake being charmed, but I called it dance.
The Bear - walk around like a circus bear, with his arms tucked in.

06-13-2010, 02:26 AM
just up to chapter 19. i have had to stop reading as i am crying. i will come back to it and read it all but for now, i am too fragile

I wanted to say thank you for writing this, a lot of what you are sharing is easing my own mind in regards to Smudge who is very much like Linus in a lot of ways.

I am not going to give feed back on this forum, as the story is too moving and it feels very crass to do that i am however, going to print the story off and write my feed back in the corresponding areas and post it over to you.

I will come back when i have regained some composure.

06-13-2010, 07:57 AM
i have had to stop reading as i am crying.
Precisely. That is why I am not reading it. Sorry Liz. Bears have just been kind of... fragile recently.

06-13-2010, 12:17 PM
i have had to stop reading as i am crying.
Precisely. That is why I am not reading it. Sorry Liz. Bears have just been kind of... fragile recently.

I understand.

And Candy you are so brave to go on this journey with me. Thank you so much for this kindness. I know you will only respond with kindness even if that kindness is constructive criticism.

Love you all!!!

06-23-2010, 08:18 AM
Liz, I read the first chapter and I liked it. If I didn't have an important exam on friday I would continue till I finish.

I always have great respect for such endeavored works. That is why I wanted to read it at first.
Second, I have never been a cat lover. I don't say I hate them, but I just like them as much as I like all other living things. So it is very interesting for me to understand this friendship.

I look forward to friday evening to come back and finish reading the story.


06-27-2010, 04:42 AM
Liz, I had to copy this in a document, cause my reading is being interrupted very often, by the force of ''must do'', so it seems it will take a while for me to finish it.
But, I loved your writing and your story so far. And how Linus came to you...
I love your choices on names. Kami Kaze, Cactus, Linus...

07-03-2010, 12:54 PM
An infinitely rare picture of Linus as a kitten.

I really appreciate you dear friends for taking the time to read this.

Candy, you truly are a sport for toughing it out, and I am glad that it has given you some hope. It means that Linus is already making a difference, and that the story - even if it's still rough at this point - is moving enough to make that difference I need to.

07-05-2010, 01:59 AM

09-01-2010, 07:21 PM
Hmmm.. are people still reading this? I would like more feedback if you have time, people! :)

09-02-2010, 12:54 AM
don't know about people, but bears are reading

09-04-2010, 04:20 AM
Really? :excited: Wheeeeeeeee! :)

Had a horrible dream that my book was absolute crap, and that numerous people were telling me I shouldn't bother trying to publish it because of that.

I just want to save the world...

09-04-2010, 04:22 AM
Do it.

09-04-2010, 04:29 AM
I've even considered just trying to put it on the internet in more places to make a difference, and then if I can get it published - literary agent find me please - then I can publish it and find more people to read it in that way, but I thought it might be excellent pre-advertisement to post it elsewhere.. but it's a thought.

09-04-2010, 10:47 AM
Really? :excited: Wheeeeeeeee! :)

Had a horrible dream that my book was absolute crap, and that numerous people were telling me I shouldn't bother trying to publish it because of that.

I just want to save the world...

its not!! i have unfortunatley had crappy things going on, but never fear i have printed it off and still plan to do a proper critique for you

09-04-2010, 08:16 PM
Well...I love it!

09-05-2010, 05:08 AM
I think the ending isn't what I wanted it to be, but I really don't know how to end it. I mean, my grief hasn't ended - may never - so how do you end a book like that?

Maybe with a "visit your doctor regularly" spiel? Meh... I don't know...

09-05-2010, 05:18 AM
I too have made a copy ( hope you don't mind)
Its like an advance copy , I'll send you a page to
autograph ...for when your famous as an author
as well as actress.:fairy:

09-05-2010, 05:35 AM
I don't mind at all sweet Linda... :) I hope you enjoy it.

09-05-2010, 06:52 AM

11-12-2010, 05:55 AM
679 views?? Wow! So people really are reading it! Yaaayy!

01-11-2011, 05:32 PM
1679 people have viewed my story at www.petlovers.com so far.

479 people have read it at www.thecatsite.com (without the new epilogue)

So combined that is 2939 views of the story!!!!!!!!!! WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

01-12-2011, 10:19 AM
this is great! :rose:

01-12-2011, 10:53 AM
I altered the story a bit a few days ago: there is a brand new afterword... :)

04-27-2011, 08:00 AM
Some new afterthoughts

After a while in your journey of life, you realize a few things.

Sometimes the love you thought was real, isn't real. That it was an illusion. A mirage. Now, that wasn't the case when it came to Linus, but it was the truth when it came to my love with my husband. After dealing with his anger, his controlling nature, the emotional abuse, the isolation, and his manipulation, I realized suddenly what love I truly had in my life. And that was not with him.

I asked him to go to counseling, because I believe in the sanctity of the marital union and wanted to make things work. Instead, he changed the locks on the apartment. I began studying mental health cases, trying to figure out if it was me, or him, that he could get over me so quickly. And I swiftly realized my love for him was not real. My love was for the illusion that he had made and could not maintain. My love was not for the sociopath that I was married to. It was for what I thought I had. Sometimes letting go of an illusion is harder, because one has denied the truth to oneself for so long. Familiarity can cause a person to stay where they are far longer than is safe for their health, mental, emotional, and physical. But it doesn't have to stay that way forever.

My truth, is that my true love, was Linus. Linus loved me just the way I am, and I am holding back my heart this time when it comes to a romantic relationship for someone who loves me as much as Linus loved me and who loves cats. It may be a life-time wait, but that will be okay. I will be surrounded by others who love me and accept me for who I am. I will not settle for less. I will never again have a man saying when someone is hurting "oh well we need to save up for a car instead". I will not have a man defending someone else for being "hurt" by a cat when I am grieving with all my heart and mind and soul. I will not have a man mimicking emotions, searching for suitable response. I will not have an actor in my life. I want a real man.

In the meantime, while I wait, I live back at home with my mother, my brother, the cats: Mandarin, Majel, Metro, Shebrie and the Westie: Travis McGee. I am surrounded by those who love me and accept me just for who I am. What else could one ask for?

I don't know what I will next encounter in my journey, but in the meantime I am reclaiming myself. I am reclaiming my enduring love for Linus. And it is unfortunate that his body rests in my mother-in-law's soil and that Mandarin can't join him, but my mother repeatedly reminds me, "It's okay, Liz. That's just his shell. That's just his body. He will meet you at the Rainbow Bridge. He's waiting there for you. Just remember, it's just his body. He's with us every day. And Mandarin, well, we'll figure out something special for him."

Linus, you are with me every day. And I sing at least one Beatles song a day just for you. Because I will always love you, across the universe.