For those who don’t already know Genesis Whitmore, she’s the awesome artist who is penning the webcomic version of The Lives of Dexter Peterson. Recently her 920-year-old cat Feep began having medical issues and, ultimately, passed away.
Most of my fans are animal people, to say the least, so they understand why this is a big deal. But maybe I should put this into perspective.
I haz a cat. A cat haz me. It’s difficult to differentiate which direction the hazzing flows, honestly. Anyone who’s a regular viewer of my weekly streaming concerts has seen His Mighty Royal Fatness (Murphy) stepping on the pedals as I’m trying to play the piano. He’s been doing that for nine years now. He sleeps on my face, has a tendency to bite my nose because he loves me, and has pioneered the Sleeping-As-A-Full-Time-Profession industry. He is not a pet, he has effectively become a part of my personality.
Feep was iconic; something that became as much a part of Gen’s identity as her Pinkie-Pie-murdering hair color. The 42-pound diabetic hate-ball that she loved and veterinarians feared had become such a part of Gen’s brand identity that she brought a plushie version of Feep for her merch table.
Losing a long-term companion like that isn’t like selling a car or having a computer die, it’s like severing your left foot. As you build a relationship with this critter that’s totally dependent upon you for its survival, you begin to realize how much you depend on it for yours. Then, inevitably, it’s gone.
You may not be consciously aware of your left foot right now, but if you woke up tomorrow morning without it you would understand quite clearly just how much you’ve lost. In fact, it would probably be the foremost thought in your head for an uncomfortably long time. That foot was something you leaned on, something that supported you, and adjusting to its loss isn’t really going to be helped by smiles, condolences, and hugs. Sure, you might be able to walk again, but you really won’t ever feel the same.
A pet is not a thing, it is an integral part of life for some of us. Eventually (unlike a foot), the wound will heal. This little being whose poop you’ve disposed of for a more than a decade will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine: a fond memory. The hole left behind will fill in and the part of your identity that was covered in scratches and hair will take some other form. But if you can imagine losing your left foot, you can imagine the kind of adjustment and time it will take before that happens.
I really don’t even like to think about how I will have to adjust once Murphy’s time comes. He will leave an awfully big hole in me, but I know it’s something that must happen eventually. For now, I wish only the best and God’s peace for Gen and Uriel.
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