Mercury is retrograde. I don’t need to explain the sort of emotional chaos that stupid planet causes, except for the fact that my cat was put down last night. My sweet, snuggly, hunter of a feline left us. And my goodness, has my heart been ripped away from my body.
Oscar wasn’t a cat who just lounged around. More than once, I found him walking around on our roof just taking in the view. One time, he attacked a mama bunny and baby bunny, killing both and eating one and a half of them. Soon after that, we found our front yard littered with bird feathers and then finally the bird carcass itself. The funny thing is that as soon as he got these hunter instincts out of his system, he’d wait at the door until we let him in and snuggle up in my lap for a nice nap.
When I was in kindergarten, my mom was accidentally persuaded into purchasing Oscar and his “sister”, Emmy (I only realized this year that they weren’t actually siblings—he was orange and white, she was a pure black cat) at Emmons Tropical Fish in Granby, Connecticut. At the time, we were full-on cat people. Our first feline, Friday, was more loyal than any human and after Friday, we adopted Gabby, although she ran away after a couple months. Oscar and Emmy traveled with us on our moves from Connecticut to Indiana (where we picked up Posh, my uncle’s college cat that he sold to my sister for a quarter without asking my parents) to Pennsylvania. After we lost Emmy and then had to give up Posh for adoption, Oscar remained as we made it back to his homeland.
When we got back to Connecticut, we decided to try and be dog people. We adopted one pup and then another the year after that. Oscar lost his run of the house, quiet afternoons tanning on the window sill, and nights out looking for his next prey. Although he was often restricted, he never lost his love and he never lost his fight. Even after I moved to Texas and developed an allergy to him, every time I came home to visit, he would just know and take every opportunity to sit in my lap and bonk my head.
Upon hearing that after 16 years, our sweet boy was being put down, my sister and I just couldn’t stop crying. For me, beyond the obvious trauma of losing part of your family, there was also this cheesy-yet-very real symbolic loss of childhood. Like I said before, this cat survived every move we put him through. He remained a constant companion through all the chaos and served as this source of unconditional love I never quite knew if I deserved. He soothed my ever-present anxiety and would sometimes even lick the tears off my face.
Losing Oscar reminds me of when Harry Potter lost Hedwig—it’s making life a little bit more real. While Harry was involved in the fight of his life for the well-being of the wizarding community, my much less intense life is battling the challenges that come from graduating and entering the Real World a year earlier than expected, a beautiful but long-distance relationship, and debilitating homesickness wherever I go. Losing Oscar is a real, sad pain and also a dull, aching growing pain. It’s an irrationally sob-inducing reminder that things change even when we don’t want them to and that all you can do is keep going. But before I keep going, can Mercury get the heck out of retrograde?