First my cat disappeared. Then I started praying. I pray sometimes but only when it’s convenient for me, like when I’m on an airplane and I think I might fall from the sky. I pray for that not to happen. I prayed when my aunt got breast cancer. She’s still with us. I prayed when Emory was in the NICU and we weren’t sure what was wrong. He turned nine last week. And I prayed when my niece’s best friend, Erin, got sick even though I’d never met Erin. I prayed for her a lot. And even though I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, nor do I answer to any other religion, at the time I felt like my track record for being a foul-weather prayer was pretty good. So I prayed for Erin.
She passed away two years ago last week. And I was so angry at the time. I was so angry that all my praying, my silly routine, didn’t work. This little girl died and I became angry at a God I stopped believing in a long time ago.
On Sunday a mother of one of Elliot’s classmates killed herself. At the time of her death, I was baking a cake. She had three little boys, one of whom was just 5 months old. She must have been in so much pain. And I went back and reread all of our emails and I hated that I wasn’t a better friend to her. We continually did the “Let’s get together this week!” Missed that. “OK, next week!” Nope. Maybe if people had been there for her more, she’d still be with her family.
Then Murray disappeared. I was away for two days at my mom’s house so the boys could see the beach for a day since we had to cancel our beach vacation due to Toby and work circumstances. I left Monday with the kids. Toby stayed home. Murray was last seen Tuesday afternoon. And it damn near stops my heart that it happened on a Tuesday—his day.
Let’s see: I put up fliers. I put fliers in every neighbor’s mailbox. I knocked on some doors. I posted on every local message board. I posted on every local Facebook page. I called the vet. I called our animal control center. I even called the police. And then I called a plumber. You see, we moved into a new house (yes, I went back to the old house, many times) and there are a lot of little crevices in the eaves. So I paid a plumber to come with a fibrotic camera and comb through all those spaces making absolutely sure he wasn’t in the house. My words to the dispatcher, who is also a lover of cats (thank goodness) were, “Listen, if I don’t rule this out and then one day the flies come or he starts to smell, I’ll never ever get over that.”
They showed up later that day. Bless their plumber hearts. And gained a customer for life.
We set up cameras. Brought out his favorite blanket. Combed the streets again calling his name. Checked the gutters. We put out food. We put out a litter box. We exhausted every option. We still don’t have Murray.
So, the other night I prayed again. I told God, or whomever might be listening, I said, “God, I will stop drinking forever. I won’t touch another drink if you bring back my Murray.” I made this prayer well into my nightly bottle of wine.
I gave God an ultimatum. I would quit self-medicating with alcohol, something I’ve been doing for months, if God brought my cat back.
Some people hit a rock bottom. They do something devastating like drive drunk and kill someone. They get a DUI. They fight with the wrong person and get the shit kicked out of them. Some folks end up in prison. Some folks simply grow tired of saying so many stupid things every single night and then forgetting about it the next morning but still having to reach out and apologize for all the stupid things they don’t remember saying.
Me? I gave God an ultimatum. I tried to make a deal, negotiate.
Murray isn’t back. And I am starting to feel a darkness around me, a void that he is no longer with me on this planet and my heart hurts. I may never know where he is. He may never return. He may be dead somewhere. He may have been taken in. But this morning when I woke up at 4 AM to the faint taste of last night’s wine in the back of my throat, I knew he was gone.
And I cried.
I miss him. And I am not a very happy person these days. I don’t particularly like myself these days. And I’m not going to wait for my cat to come back to stop self-medicating with alcohol. And I’m putting this out there, perhaps irresponsibly, maybe this will backfire and people won’t hire me; or neighbors will judge me; they might look at me differently. But I need to look at myself better. I need to like myself again. So I’m holding myself accountable this time. Out loud.
God doesn’t have to bring my cat back for me to take care of myself. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would give anything to have him home again. I miss him so much. But not drinking and my cat? These two things aren’t mutually exclusive. They’re absurdly unrelated.
I mean, I do want my cat back. God, please bring him back to me.
But I’m going to stop drinking without him.
I need to like myself again.
Take care of yourself. You are enough. You are brave and strong just for making it through each day, more so for sharing this. I will pray for Murray to return and for you to get to a place where you feel at peace with yourself. I am sending prayers, good thoughts, positive vibes – whatever needs to get out into the universe for this to turn around. I have read your blog for a long time and always come back because you are real and true, you don’t just share the good stuff, and it has always made me feel less alone in my own imperfect life. I am praying so hard for Murray and all of you. Hang in there.
Be kind to yourself. You can get through this. It’s ok to lean on your husband, your friends & family – they want to help you. Peace to you, lady. Virtual hugs from a stranger.
I am so sorry. About all of this. It’s brave of you to post this.
I’m so sick, sad, sorry about all of this. Take care of yourself/your family. Keep well. Get help to get some sleep.
Michele, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time…I also don’t pray unless it is convenient for me. I wept when I read your post. Please, please, please Murray, come home.
Thank you for your kind words. Your thoughts and prayers mean a great deal to me.
<3 <3 <3
He’s HOME! He came home! Last night.
This is such amazing news! Yay Murray!!!!
This literally sent a jolt – an electric JOLT! – up through me and tears shot out of my eyes!!!!!!!!! THIS IS THE BEST NEWS I’VE HEARD IN A LONG TIME! YAY!!! :))) Where was he?! Did he tell you were in the world he was??
OMG! First I read (in Feedly) this post. And was about to click through to say I was adding my prayers. And I was crying here at my desk at work (not attractive). And then I saw the next post was also from you. And it said he was home. And I cried harder. And I clicked through to leave a happy comment. And I got a 404 error. And I thought – NO! Maybe he wasn’t home. And I clicked Home and got here. And YES!!! He is home.
I started following you because of Murray. Damn, I’m glad he’s home. Going off to fix my face….
Your comment made me smile. I love you for writing it. Thank you!
I’ve been checking your site constantly ever since I read Murray was gone. I checked before I went to sleep last night and then again when I woke up early this morning. I’m so glad I checked again this morning…yay!!!
I lost my first love, a beautiful orange male cat, when I was 11 years old and I was heartbroken…still am. I looked everywhere for him and never saw him again. I didn’t want that to happen to your boys.
…and I lost the love of my life, my big beautiful dog, a few years ago, and I still miss her everyday. Although it also broke my heart to lose her, at least there was closure. I was so worried sick that you wouldn’t get that with Murray if you never saw him again. Okay, enough…I now have happy tears for you.
That was my biggest fear too! Not knowing. Also: I put fliers up EVERYWHERE. And I kept thinking, if I never find him again, I’ll be reminded of him everywhere I go. And that would make me cry all over again. While the signs were there to help bring him back, they were also a constant reminder he was gone. And I kept picturing them fading or getting blown off over time and that made me cry some more. What a mess I was! (am?) :]
I’m SO glad he’s home. Didn’t get a chance to tell you how sorry I was yesterday. What a happy post today. One of my worst fears are my kitties getting out and getting lost. Maybe you’ll share a new photo of Murray?
I definitely will. Today is Tuesday. I feel a Tuesdays with Murray coming on. :]
My cat (the kind of cat that Murray is to you, the kind that becomes a part of your soul) disappeared for two very long weeks when her patience with the foster cat ran out. I was too caught up in my work and other animals to notice that she was coming home less and less… Until she stopped coming home. I immediately found the foster a new home, put up fliers, and called local vets, and bit some fingernails… She was eventually found alive, a mile away from home, just a skinny little thing. I feel like I’ve been given a second chance with her. Every morning that I see her at home, my heard overflows. I’m so glad your Murray came home. I’m so glad my kitty came home. Sometimes, we do get chances, these external moments of mercy and grace. I hope you will give yourself the mercy and the grace and the love you deserve from yourself, too. May your heart be light. And when it isn’t, may you be supported until you find that light within you. Thank you so much for writing this.
Thank you for your kind words. I am doing ok today. It helps he came home. And I’m a work in progress. I need to make some changes and figure out how to find myself again. Sounds so cliché but it’s true.
I’m so glad he’s home!!! I hope you and he are well together.
Hugs. Change is good. I want the best for you.