Monday, August 25, 2008


Murphy Is Not An Oppositionist
I wasn't going to post this because I don't like posting really personal stuff. But, well, she was a great cat.

I am watching a San Diego Chargers preseason game because I don't know what else to do. I'd hoped that my cat Murphy would be watching it with me. When she was younger, she was fascinated by football, particularly if one of the teams wore red. She'd get up on top of the TV, watch the plays upside-down, batting at the little red men as they'd run across the green field.

The vet just took Murphy away. She was 19 1/2. She'd had kidney problems for the past few years, hyperthyroid for years before that. In the last six months she had noticeably declined, and I was seriously concerned about leaving her for two weeks while I was in China. But I'd planned the trip a year ago, paid for it all, and with the upheaval in my work life (as in, unemployment after 15 years at the studio), I felt I needed to continue my China connection, both for my writing and for whatever other opportunities might present themselves.

So I reluctantly left her, in the care of a cat sitter who had taken care of her for a number of years and knew her medical routine.

When I came home from China on Saturday in the early afternoon, the minute I saw Murphy I knew that she was dying. She still tottered over to her food bowl, still looked up at me, knowing that eventually something good would come of it. But she couldn't really eat. She'd lost more weight. After spending a few hours with her I emailed the house-call vet to tentatively schedule a visit on Monday.

I slept the next two nights on the couch, where Murphy liked to sleep most nights. She slept with me, sat on my lap when I read or watched TV, and last night crawled up on my shoulder to sleep for hours. I agonized about the vet appointment. Was it time? Was I doing the right thing? I stayed home today but knew I had to go into work for the rest of the week - it's my last week there after all - if I weren't working, could I have more time with her? Why did this have to happen now, just before I'd have all the time I wanted?

This afternoon, she tottered over to the couch, climbed up and rested her head on my lap. That's where she stayed, until at last she lay on her side, nearly comatose. I no longer had any doubts it was time.

Murphy accompanied me on my life's path for nearly my entire time in Los Angeles. I named her Murphy when she appeared inside the Murphy bed in my old apartment, half-grown, half-starved, skittish and sweet as hell. She was with me for my rock and roll years - she loved it when I played the bass and sang - she loved music in general, would sit in front of the stereo between the speakers, right at the point of greatest stereo separation. I am not kidding. She was particularly fond of the John Adam's opera, "Nixon in China." Again, I'm not kidding.

She was with me for all my attempts at screenplays, at novels, sitting on my lap, competing with the laptop for space. She was here through the drafts and the revisions of the novel that finally got me an agent. My little gray Muse. She was with me for my various romantic disasters, my work dramas, and she was waiting for me when I returned from my adventures. I honestly think she waited to go until I’d returned from this last one.

I don't think of cats as people, or children, but they are companions to many of us, and Murphy was a great companion to me.

I can't quite process the irony that at the same time as my fifteen year stint at the studio is ending, at a time when I may be selling my house and leaving Los Angeles after more than 20 years here, when my life suddenly looks very different after years of continuity, that this one constant companion has left me as well.

I picked this photo of her because it shows how involved she liked to be with anything I happened to be doing. Here she is, helping me with my study of Chinese revolutionary history...

Goodbye, Murphy. You were a great cat.

No comments: