Farewell to my Assistant Editor
As some of my friends and family know, I had to say goodbye to a very special friend a couple weeks ago. It makes me feel a little silly that I was so attached to this furball. He has been on many journeys with me since I adopted him in 2000 while I was living by myself and attending BYU. From the moment I saw him, I knew that he was meant for me. He was teeny, probably only 4 or 5 weeks old, and was pouncing on all the other kittens who were trying to nap in the cage he was in. That scrappy, little, pink-nosed fuzzy reminded me of myself; so I adopted him not knowing how much he would mean to me thirteen and a half years down the road.
Gizmo was a great ice breaker. One of my college friends admitted to me that she really just wanted to play with my kitten and buy him toys and treats, and only after hanging out with my cat did she really become friends with me. He instinctively told me which guys were okay to hang out with and had a knack for choosing to be friends with those that either hated cats or were extremely allergic to him. He was my guardian and my protector and would physically pick a spot between me and whoever I was arguing with to make sure that he could defend me in case things escalated.
A few more endearing things about him: He came when I whistled or sang a song made of his nicknames (yes, I'm a dork). He made Marvin bleed the first time he came over. (Marvin didn't tell me about it until long after we had gotten married.) He was always gentle and patient with my kiddos (who so rudely took up space in his home). He came out of my room every evening around 8:00 to remind me to put the kids to bed if I hadn't already. He traveled on top of all of my belongings in the cab of my truck when I moved back and forth between California and Utah in college. He laid on my head almost every night before choosing to sleep on my feet instead. He ignored me for a whole year while we lived in New York and chose to sleep on Marvin's side of the bed instead of mine. He knew me. He consoled me. He talked to me. He always chose to sit on the tallest thing on the floor that he could access (bin, suit case, box). He helped me study in college by sitting on my books. And tried to sit on whatever I was reading in bed. He helped me with every quilt and sewing project I've made in the past 13 years. He kept me company while I spent hours editing photos for our business. He was a princess - loved handbags and shoes. He adored laying under tissue paper at Christmas time.
Don't get me wrong, he was naughty from time to time. But he loved me without judgement. I didn't have to impress him or apologize to him for who I am and some of the lame things I do. My journey with him started when I was just 19 years old, trying to figure out who I was and what I was going to do with life. He experienced life with me through heartache and happiness, marriage, three children, various moves, and that other cat he barely tolerated named Jake.
And I am truly sad. I haven't been this sad in at least 10 years. And while losing a pet to most people may seem trivial, and I may be mocked for my sensitivity and the expression of my loss, he was my truest friend, and this has been one of the most difficult things I have experienced. I have endured mountains of stress, frustration, and disappointment. But it all seemed eased when Gizmo would sit on my lap and give me that little headbutt or knead my shoulder.
I found out Gizmo was ill when I brought him into work with me for a routine check up and bloodwork shortly after we lost Jake back in October. Gizmo had very low white- and red blood cell counts. Drs. Wahl & Curtin suspected some kind of cancer or disease related to his bone marrow, but could not diagnose him without further diagnostics (a bone marrow aspirate) that I could not afford and was not willing to put my pal through. We treated him with high doses of steroids and then cyclosporine without real improvement. Last December Marvin asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I told him I wanted a few nice photographs of my cat who I knew was not getting better. So now I have these images of my best buddy to help me remember his spirit and sass.