Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving today, and at least for the foreseeable future, this holiday is going to be a bittersweet one for me. One year ago today, my cat PJ died. We had had PJ--or maybe I should say he had us--for 15 amazing years. Not everyone gets the pet thing, and that's okay, but those who do know more than can ever be explained to those who don't how much a pet can truly become part of a family. The sight of them, the smell, the touch, the funny and stupid and annoying and adorable things they do, become part of the fabric of your life, and when it is taken away from you, as it inevitably must, it creates an ache and a sadness like no other.

Every year on Thanksgiving, my wife and daughter and I drive down to LA to be with my family. We're doing it again today, soon. But I woke up remembering what had happened at this very time exactly one year ago today. After it happened, and before we got in the car, I sat down in this same chair and blogged about it on my old 1up.com blog, as a way to process my feelings, somehow. A lot of people liked that blog and told me it helped them deal with the grief over the loss of their own pet. So on this Thanksgiving morning, I'm reposting that blog here, for me, for PJ, and for anyone else who feels the need or desire to give thanks to someone no longer with them. Happy Thanksgiving, PJ. And Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, too. Thanks for being part of my life and for coming here and reading my stuff.
--Jeff

PJ The Cat. In memoriam. 1992-2007
Posted at Thu, 22 Nov 2007 12:46:16 PST


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It seems like a particularly cruel and trying twist of fate to have a family's beloved cat pass away on Thanksgiving Day, of all days. And yet, if any of us have learned anything, it's that life never does make a whole lot of sense, never pauses to ask us first if this is a good day for whatever it has to throw at us.

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And so it is that on Thanksgiving Day 2007, my wife and daughter and I found ourselves sitting in a cold and sterile room at a pet emergency hospital at 8 a.m., crowded around the very, very sick form of our cat PJ, as the vet gave him one last shot to let him sleep and rest forever, out of the pain that a horrendous bacterial infection had put him in for over a week, rendering him unable to eat or even move. We fought it, of course, that decision, that leap of sad understanding that many, many pet owners inevitably find themselves forced to make--the one that tells you that you have to let go for the animal's sake, that keeping him or her alive is only a salve for you. That what your pet needs now is rest. For 24 hours we fought this decision, willing him as strong as we could to rally, to fight it off, to get better. But at the hospital this morning it was clear. You could see it in his eyes, in his low moans, in his withered body. You could see him asking to be let go.

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And so now after 15 long, wonderful, happy, loving years, PJ is gone on, and we are packing our things here and driving down to Los Angeles to be with our extended family on this holiday--a bittersweet of one as I ever remember having.

Part of me doesn't want to go at all. Part of me wants to tell my family: "Never mind. See you next year." Because...well, why? Why go? Why celebrate? What is there to be thankful for on this cold and cruel Thanksgiving Day?

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And the answer of course is that there is so much to be thankful for. Even on a day like this. There of course is the fact that we have each other. And the fact that we have somewhere to drive to, that will understand our pain and offer us the kind of comfort that only family can provide. That in itself is more than anyone could hope to have.

But here in this space, before I take off, I also want to acknowledge all the things I'm thankful for that that big, tough, annoying, scratchy, loud, awesome cat brought into my life.

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I'm thankful for the endless hours of companionship.

I'm thankful for all that purring and head butting and body curling that let me know we had a mutual deal going on here.

I'm thankful for the countless laughs as we found you in one ridiculous predicament after another.

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I'm thankful for all those poor little mice and birds that you brought to us in sacrifice over the years, even if we yelled at you at the time.

I'm thankful for all that interrupted sleep due to your sudden need to go outside at 4 a.m even though you'd ask to be let back in 2 minutes later.

I'm thankful for never making it 10 minutes through any TV show ever without you needing to either go in or out, depending on which side of the door you were on.

I'm thankful for the countless new places you showed me that, despite my limited human thinking, did in fact turn out to be cool sleeping spots.

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I'm thankful for all the scratches on my hands and arms and toes that reminded me who actually was in charge of our relationship.

I'm thankful for you always giving me a reason to want to come home, no matter my mood, no matter the circumstance.

And, most of all, PJ, I'm thankful for that unconditional (well, as unconditional as it ever gets for a cat) love, that solid and steady companionship, that low purr that always made everything alright. And the gentle, steady reminder that sometimes--most of the time, in fact-- the best damn thing in the world to do was absolutely nothing. To sit, be still, breathe, and appreciate the awesome wonder of simply being together, sharing the same space.

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Thank you, PJ. I love you, man. Have a happy Thanksgiving up there in cat heaven, and I'll do my best to have one down here, basking in my memories of our 15 years of love and harmony and happiness together.

Happy Thanksgiving, PJ.

Love,
Jeff

54 comments:

Michael Adamek said...

Same to you bro! (and to PJ)

Michael Adamek said...

Just thinking about it for a second, it's Thanksgiving. I'm sure you are thankful for having a wonderfully loving cat in PJ, and PJ was always thankful for having had (obviously) a loving owner and companion.

Brain Blurbs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brain Blurbs said...

Happy Thanks giving! Hope it's a nice day with the family.

I remember when you blogged about PJ. And that's a year ago already, time flies.

Wetzel said...

Happy thanksgiving! I know exactly what you mean by a pet becoming part of the family. We've had my cat for 15 years, ever since I was 10. That means he's been a part of my life for more than half of it. He's been sick for the past year or so, needing pills twice a day, and even though it's a pain I never think not to give them to him, because I don't know what it would be like without him. I can't remember that far back. Thank you for your post that puts everything into words that I can't. Because even though he's such a pain in the ass a lot of the time, he's still a part of my family and I do love him.

Derek said...

I remember when I watched my pet cat died in my arms, even though we all knew she was going to pass away nobody was prepared. She was stricken blind a couple days prior and we knew it was only a matter of time. The day that she died, she fell off the bed in a daze, but she wasn't down yet. She got up and did the most amazing thing ever; she traveled to every room in the house upstairs and downstairs. Mind you she was dying, and she was blind... I never seen such a thing in my child life, and then she finally laid down peacefully in the kitchen... Where she ultimately passed on, I remember seeing the life in her eyes fade away, I knew she wouldn't ever come back and that's when the realization hit me. I cried for days (I was also 12 at the time, so crying then was like the end of the world, maybe it was)

Anyway, they always said that having a pet adds longevity to one's life, I'll always believe that.

Did you ever get a new kitten? I always felt like I would be replacing a lost family member, but you never lose those memories even with a new cat.

Anywho, Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

This post really makes me think of how old my dog's getting. I think he's like 12. I have the same relationship with him that you had with your cat. I've been with my dog rascal for 12 years, I was 3 when we got him. He always makes things better. I think I still have a few years left in him though.

Happy Thanksgiving
-Connor

peterh said...

11 years ago, my family woke up Thanksgiving morning to the sound of my beloved then-twelve-year-old skye terrier Kelsey tumbling down the stairs, and this was how we learned that she had bone cancer. Even though she made it another six months after that incident, I still shudder when I wake up on turkey day.

To great pets and better friends, Happy Thanksgiving.

TimLaws said...

Happy Thanksgiving Jeff. I hope that you can still have a good time today. Reading that blog again makes me kinda sad. I think I'll go pet my cats now.

Ian said...

Man, I'm going to miss my cat when I'm off to college. :(

John Rivett said...

Happy Thanksgiving Jeff..

As someone who has lost a pet (dog) I can totally relate.

Hope you take comfort in family and friends today.

Javier said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Jeff, and here's what me, a simple south american that doesn't celebrate this holiday, is thankful for: This post. I am literally cleaning away tears because my sentiments towards my own cat is *exactly* the same, word for word. It was like I was reading my own mind, and I have this imperious need of simply going and hug my lazy, awesome, black cat that goes by the name of "Miau" (I threw in the quotes for you, I know you love them).

But before I go do that, and continue enjoying the - hopefully - next 13 years of his companionship as he is 2 years old, I wanted to share this with you, if for no other reason to simply say that some people "get it". These guys bring us joy no matter what mood we are in, they help us through the best and worst of times without even realizing... or do they? In my romantic mind, I want to believe Miau is fully aware of what he means to me and simply chooses to spend his days here, hanging out with this guy who lets him scratch some skin at bed time.

Here's to you, Jeff, to PJ, to Miau and to every other cat, dog, parrot, rabbit or turtle that someone loves and appreciates unconditionally - and who in turn makes us all feel loved back.

Cheers, and Happy Thanksgiving.

PS: Please chalk up any weird uses of the English language to me being a dumb foreigner. Thank you.

Niall said...

<3 man, i know what it feels like ive lost 2 of my favorite cats the past 5 years. It still hurts whenever i think about them. Have a Happy Thankgiving man!

Kevin said...

I wish I had read this when my dog had died. Though for me it was more of a sudden-getting-hit-by-a-car kind of thing. Though I can imagine watching PJ slowly fade out was just as painful. My dog was little though, I wanted him to live long like PJ.

Jeremy Steven said...

Right now I live with my pet Noa. He's a 1.5 year old bipedal humanoid. Not only is he adorable, but I'm teaching him how to speak, which he's picking up with amazing alacrity. Sometimes he acts almost human, although I admit I haven't trained him to go outside yet. They say these humanoids live 76 years on average, so I hope he's a good one b/c I'll be stuck with him a long time.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to Jeff and family, all the readers, and to PJ, wherever you are.

Simon said...

Thanks for reposting this, this week we had to have our own cat Spaz put to sleep, the guilt is immense because he was so young but it was for the best. It's the second cat this year after my companion for 15/16 years Devon finaly gave up.

Hope you had a great day of feasting with the family, we should adopt this holiday in the UK.

Robert said...

Great post, cool pics. :)

Happy thanksgiving to you people, and may all pets have such caring friends as you seem to be, Jeff.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans!

Special thanks in particular to Jeff for writing these blogs and allowing us a tiny glimpse into his life - I can't believe how quickly he can compose these blogs. He's a talented writer, no doubt about it.

Anon E. Moose.

Corey said...

I was once afraid to get a cat. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to take care of them. Now I'm afraid to live without them.

They give you so much and ask very little in return. My cats love me more than I could ever love them.

lowlight said...

I actually went to read your PJ blog after my cat died. It really helped, thanks!

Oh and that last picture gives me a stiffy

Stephen said...

Happy Turkey Day!

Now, where did I leave those blankets?....

Panda said...

This is one of my favorite things that you've ever written, Jeff. Both the new, and the old. I remember when it happened last year, and it made me think of my own cat who sadly passed away shortly after you wrote that after being with me for 17 years. Reading this again now makes it all the more meaninful. I know... exactly what you mean.

I'm just thankful I get to keep reading what you write, now that you don't have the obvious forum for expression you did with the magazine(s) and website. Happy thanksgiving, Jeff.

dylanj7 said...

My best friend recently lost her ferret, Bandit, whom she had for four long and eventful years. I forwarded this post to her so that she could also find comfort in knowing that there are others out there who understand the immensely positive impact a pet can have on our lives. Thank you and have a terrific Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Great post Jeff. I've had many cats and a few dogs in my life and I know what a big part of your life the become. It's always sad when they pass. They may be pets but they are still an important part of your family.

PJ was defintely a cute cat.

Hopefully you had a nice Turkey Day in spite of the sad memory.

Toyboxx said...

Even though reliving the pain of a loved one is unbearable at times, and yes as you said pet's are a part of our lives, part of a family, but alas there is something to be grateful for. Life is never easy and it sure as hell doesn't have an instruction booklet telling us what to do and how to do it. Rewind a bit, there is such a book but that'll be saved for another day. And there isn't instructions telling us how to deal with the loss of the one's we love. As the saying goes 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger', and that, as human beings, is how we learn and mature through coping.

Be thankful for life despite it's difficulties. (And believe me there are alot of ungrateful bastards living in this world who have everything but are unhappy with it.) Be grateful of having the love of a good family, shitty diapers and all. And most of all be thankful for a day where you can pig out on awesome food!

We all hope that your time of thanksgiving is a splendid one. But mostly I wish you luck at the Black Friday check out lines. Time to take out those crabby pants for that!

Happy Thanksgiving Jeff!

pimento said...

Lovely blog mate, reading this kind of thing always leaves me a little choked up.. I once discovered my cat dead on the road on the way to school (I was 17).. it was my birthday that day.. I managed to not believe it until I got home, but it was a pretty poor day. We also had one of our dogs back home be euthanised earlier this year due to a malignant lump.. It's always a happy kinda sadness thinking back about old companions, as you can't help but remember the good times while mourning their loss.

RIP, everyone's old companions...

Ken said...

Happy Thanksgiving Jeff. And I have to say I know what its like to lose a pet like that, several times in fact, as I'm sure we all. They're special little creatures that's for sure; something apparently less intelligent than us can open your eyes in ways that you'd never be able to with your vast intelligence available to yourself.

Here's to all the pets that have parted ways from us, this turkey giblet is saved for them.

Brian said...

Happy (American) Thanksgiving, Jeff. This was was a really nice retrospective post of your kitty. I've got Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help from my Friends" in my mind's ear as I glance over your pictures.

My wife has owned our cat Chrystal for nearly 16 years now and I'm very happy to say that she's happy, frisky, and lustrous in her old age (and so is the cat! ba dum bum). Chrystal is unquestionably one of the family, but we're undecided as to whether a cat keeps my wife's maiden name or assumes mine.

Thanksgiving is a great holiday in that it's non-religious and unstructured - just another opportunity for us all, regardless of creed, to quantify our fortuitousness during these precious 15 minutes of frantic respiration we call life. And, indeed, to lament how much more recent each subsequent Thanksgiving feels as we age.

With that, I hereby share a video of a geriatric Chrystal rediscovering her youth by means of catnip. Inna gotta de catnip, honey.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN-y050odpQ

James said...

I'm not much of a commentor on sites or blogs - but this was really well put. I had a cat from when I was three to about 20, and I was the one who had to make that horrible decision to have him put down.

Now, a few years later, I have another amazing cat, which was sitting next to me purring the entire time I read your post.

Anthony said...

Happy Thanksgiving Jeff. I remember that blog on 1up a year ago and I am as moved by it now and I was then. So with that... here's to you PJ!

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful for the pics of the younger, even more hunkier Jeff Green.

Joril said...

Here here.
Awsome post Jeff.
And a nice occasion to think back similar personal loss. (I actually mentioned it before on one of your posts.)
Having to bury your own pet is a pretty cruel fate.
Those little scars on my hands from all those friendly fights with my cat. They take you back to the awesome times.

Cheers to all of you who shared the same loss. Next time you're in Belgium, I'm buying you a beer.

Anonymous said...

Holy neck muscles...

Anonymous said...

My brother is a dog handler in the marines. When he watched the scene in the movie I Am Legend where Will Smith has to kill his infected dog my brother had to get up and leave the theater.

Nathan said...

Sorry to hear about your cat, that's always a bummer =(. I remember when my cat died back 4 or 5 years ago. I woke up and I heard my mom crying so i rushed downstairs and there was my cat strechted out dead on the carpet floor. It was the most unexpected thing, considering he was fine right up until we found him dead. Then i ended up having to go to school...

Super Dave said...

Here's someone else's pain so you don't have to feel bad anymore:

http://www.todaysbigthing.com/2008/11/25

I love stupid people.

The Meehoo with an Exactlywatt said...

I'm sorry for your loss. Even though it was a year ago. This does remind me I need to take more pictures of our cat. And maybe give her an extra treat or two.

Now on a lighter note, Since I'm from Europe my only link to Thanksgiving is from movies and TV shows.

This is the first scene I think of when Thanksgiving comes along.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptLD0kCoHG4

I love that movie

Mitchell Dyer said...

Our cat is really, really old as well, coming up on 18 years I believe. She's amazingly healthy and I'm extremely grateful for that. We recently had to put our 15 year old pup down, which was really hard. Keep the chin up, Jeff. Kill and consume a turkey as a sign of revenge. Do this every year for the rest of your life.

Anonymous said...

Damn Green, you used to be a real beefcake!

Signal to Noise said...

Third pic down got me humming my favorite seasonal tune:

"Roasting kittens on an open fire..."

Great. Now I'm hungry. Thanks, Jeff.

Macroe said...

Just so that you know, Shawn Elliott finally got back into the blogger limelight at http://shawnelliott.blogspot.com/ .

Sorry for the pimping Jeff!

Glen Haupt said...

Man, I remember reading that blog post a year ago.

I definitely get the pet thing. I had a dog named Spencer when I was younger. I still vividly remember the day he passed.

But hey, "don't be sad because it's over, be happy because it happened." Or rather, be thankful, because it's Thanksgiving. Well, it was...I was a little late posting this.

Eric F said...

I remember this being a downer on my Thanksgiving last year. But, alas, it's what life does.

I like to think that there's someone watching us. Since I'm not religious, I'm going to call him the AI Director now.

He sits behind his computer screen and just fucks with us.

Injecting humor into sad memories,
--Eric

Chris said...

I remember reading that blog on 1up. I can hardly belive that it has been one year already..time sure flys by.

Robin said...

Lovely post. I all the pictures were great, i really like the book one =)

The words werent half bad either...

Tyler said...

It's more then a little late to say happy thanks giving so instead Happy Holiday's to you and all yours. To all who read this i propose a toast, to those loved and lost and to those who will never truely be gone we Love you.

WTF(my initials)

Tyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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