Update 2008.02.25: Added a rare photo of me and Spot together.
My partner, John, with our cat, Spot, taken two nights ago in an examination room at the vet's. She died in my arms earlier this evening around 6:30pm.
Spot found me in the garden, in the backyard of my apartment on 5th Street in Park Slope:
A beautiful young black cat found me at the end of my day in the garden. He started going for the container I'd just planted. He was friendly, but when I realized he was licking up some organic fertilizer I'd spilled I realized he/she was starving. (It does smell good, like the original MilkBones [dog biscuits]). So I gave him a bowl of milk. He/She was purring so hard his tail was shaking. Only a white spot on his chest, otherwise black. I named him "Spot". I'll look for him tomorrow. If he's around again, maybe I have a cat.I didn't realize it at the time, but she represented, or embodied, a peak of synchronicity in my life. I was three and a half years into my recovery, and less than eight months sober. In therapy the previous night, I had mentioned that I was thinking about getting a cat, or two. After this first encounter with Spot, I was off to see a dance performance that evening which explored the connections between veterans of war and survivors of sexual violence. The following Monday, I was starting my first session of a gay men's therapy group.
- Diary entry, November 11, 1993, Veteran's Day, F Train en route to dinner
Spot moved in with me on Saturday. I spoke to Jonathan [my landlord] Friday at work to ask him if it would be okay if I got a cat. Saw Julia [landlady] working in the garden Saturday morning. While we were inspecting and talking, I saw a black form moving behind the fence.Later that evening, around 8:30pm, riding home on the F train:
I called out: psss-psss-psss ... Spot leapt to the top of the fence (or climbed) and walked along the top directly to me. I took her into my arms and she (female, confirmed) started purring. I left her with Julia while I went inside and prepared the can of food Renah [a work colleague at the time] gave me Friday at work.
Bought everything for her on Saturday. Saturday night discovered she had fleas, so wouldn't let her sleep with me. Gave her a flea bath, changed bed-sheets and clothes, dusted the rug. She was not happy about the bath, but remarkably cooperative. I came away with no scratches or bites.
Remaining health concern: diarrhea, foul-smelling, and may be caused by her fondness for milk.
Long day today: first session of the group (first for me) is tonight. I won't get home until after 9pm probably. Spot will freak?!
Need to make up "FOUND" posters for the area, just in case someone's looking for her.
- Diary entry, November 15, 1993, Monday, Subway, en route to work
Home to Spot. Incredible what an emotional anchor she is for me right now. Anchor is not the right word. Alternatives: focus, tether, center ... ballast ...When John and I began exploring relationship together, Spot adopted him as well. She was a great comfort to him as he dealt with his mother's terminal illness, and especially after her death. John called her a medicine cat, an apt description.
I'm not going to put up "Found Cat" signs tonight. I don't want anyone to answer. I don't want to give Spot up. She's just a cat I've known for only four or five days. I just want to go home to her ...
She found me in the garden, and Spot always wanted to go outside. She often accompanied me when I was out in the garden. Here she is in the backyard of my apartment on 5th Street in Park Slope. This was in May 2002, the last set of photos I took of the garden I was leaving to move with John to our new apartment.
Here she is on the deck of our apartment on 6th Street in Park Slope, where John and I first lived together.
Here she is in the backyard of our new home two years ago, acting like she owned the place, which, of course, she did. She was skeptical at first, but eventually allowed that she was pleased that we bought her a big, old cat house.
Outside yet again, on the front steps here. I have several shots in this series, trying to get her to look at me. This is the closest I got. Note the tail curl. She wasn't having it.
This is the earliest photo I have of Spot. This is from 2001, in the 5th Street apartment.
This is a typical posture for her. She spent a lot of time lying on John's chest, close to his heart, while he was himself prone on the couch or bed.
Here's a rare photo of me and Spot together. (Only at John's insistence.) Rare not only because I'm usually the one behind the camera, but because she wouldn't often settle down on me. In this photo, she's wedged into the the nook between me and the sofa cushion. We're also playing one of our games here. If one of us stopped petting her before she was done, she would reach out with her paw, cup it around the edge of our hand, and pull it back toward her face. I would often respond by "squooshing" her paw, as I'm doing here, and telling her how evil she was. You can see from her face how that upset her.
I'll close with this photo of her. She's sitting on the floor of my tree house, the second floor back porch on the back of our house. Her tail was the most expressive part of her, and I recognize the little curl at the end of it visible in this photo.
You can see more photos of her in my Flickr set of Spot.
She followed me across 15 years of recovery, healing, and growth. She was so much a part of my life, and John's, and of our life together. We will have other familiars, but none like her. The house is empty without her. I miss her terribly.
I'm open to comments. I especially invite anyone reading this who met or knew her to leave a comment with a memory or reminiscence about her. John and I both will welcome that as a way of memorializing her.