[See Also: Don-Don, Puppy, Pup-n-Stuf, Jesus, Elephant (while making a trunk with your arm), Golilla (yes, with an l), Puppy Time, Donegal, and Pierre.]
It was approximately 9:00 AM on a fall morning in 2004 and I was about to embark on my descent down the steps. Don was nestled in the shadows of the top step, unbeknownst to me, when my bare foot began to sink into his furry pudge, and we both freaked the fuck out. He jumped up into the air at the same time I propelled myself skyward in attempt to leap over him. This resulted in Don running away unscathed and cowering under my bed, while I plummeted head first down the steps.
One broken toe, a carpet-burned foot, a purple lower right leg, a bent back finger nail, one bruised wrist, and tons of shame having had this happen in front of Henry. But it was worth it to keep Don unharmed.
Marcy gave birth to her first litter March of 2000. One of those kittens was this gray blob with a sweet chubby face and an ashy Afro. I knew without a doubt in my mind that I was keeping him and named him Don, after his Afro doppelgänger Don King.
Don was one of those cats that even cat-haters couldn’t resist. (You know who else couldn’t resist him? Speck. They dated off and on for years.) Like a puppy who purrs, he’d plop right down in your lap, or against your side, and knock down your feline-abhorring walls. He was charming, the comedic relief of our cat clan, and such a huge part of our family. But if ever came to my house, even once, you probably know all of this already, and more than likely left with an extra layering of clothing made solely from half of his soft coat.
An outgoing people person, he was always in the thick of things. (Unless Chooch was around. In all of Chooch’s years – at least the mobile ones – Don never did come around to him. Kind of like how horses steer clear of evil.) He was loud and vocal, we would often meow back and forth at each other. And if I didn’t get out of bed and feed him RIGHTAWAY every morning, he would head butt me and cry like an extra in a Sally Struthers commercial.
He had all of these great traits, but what he apparently also had was a large mass taking up most of his side, forcing him to breathe with just one lung. The vet said that it more than likely was this way for some time, but he had become used to breathing off one lung and that’s why nothing seemed off to us. Seeing him laying in that oxygen chamber, the way he looked at me with sad, exhausted eyes, and the fact that he let Chooch pet him through the porthole, all these things painted a pretty gloomy and grim picture of his future.
Today, Don took his last breath while I held him on my lap. The vet gave me some time alone with him and I can imagine it looked like a scene from some awful Lifetime movie, me rocking back and forth, crying and saying, “Why?!” over and over. It was fucking devastating.
But now Don and Speck are together, and I can’t help but wish I was with them, too. It’s just too much to bear right now.
I will do a proper photo tribute in a few days; I owe him that much. I moved most of my pictures off my phone, and I just don’t have the will to get out of bed right now.
I would fall down the steps a million more times to bring him back to me.