Well folks, I’m going to ask you to indulge me a bit as I make an homage to my furry little pal. Tomorrow will be one week since he disappeared, and although many cats have gone missing and come back in longer periods than that, the situation here does not look good, as I’ll explain in a moment. the loss is bad enough as is but i’m also wracked by guilt, as a little forethought and being a bit more observant would have avoided all of this.
Keystone was very affectionate and gregarious indoors, but pretty skittish when it came to the sounds and activity outside. So he tended to not want to go out in the day, opting instead for nighttime forays. I knew there were coyotes in our area, I’ve heard them at night, but he tended to stay right next to the house and seldom stayed out more than an hour. Well…the afternoon of the day he disappeared I was backing out of the garage and Nicki and I saw something odd in our lawn. Some kind of shiny black/brownish mass. I thought it was a toadstool as we’ve had a few of those pop up in the back yard. Normally I’d take a moment and see what it was, but I’ve been exhausted from the Zoe Monster arrival and decided I’d check it out later. That night, Keystone wanted out and…fuck it crushes me to say this…but I had some deep foreboding. I could have just left him in but I was so tired, and I knew I’d be getting up to deal with a poopy diaper or something with Zoe…so I let him out.
And he never came back.
When he did not wake me up to let him in I knew something was up. Many people have tried to counsel us by saying perhaps he ran in a neighbors house or was “hiding out”. I wish to God that were the case, but you could set your watch by that cat. He was totally a creature of habit…and what I found in the yard made it hard to imagine we’d have a good resolution to this. You see, the odd looking black/brown thing in my yard was the entrails of a rabbit that had obviously been killed and eaten the night before. The gut pile, ears and part of a fore-leg were all that was left. I’m not the Great White Hunter, but I managed to find the tracks of the rabbit and those of the coyote that had grabbed it. It would appear the coyote had found Keystone’s scat pile at the side of the house and had taken to hanging out there. One night the coyote obviously got the rabbit, and I’m guessing the other night it got Keystone. I’ve scoured the area, and have found no blood or remains…which makes one hold out a bit of hope, but the “crime scene” is pretty grim. So, I’m pretty well wracked with guilt that I was dumb enough to let him out at night at all…but then what type of life is it for him to be shut in all the time? And if I’d only stopped to see what was in the yard I’d have never let him out at night without at least hanging out with him, I’d still have my pal.
That little guy has been a feature piece of my life for almost 10 years and I just can’t describe how much joy and love he brought to me. The first date I went out with Nicki we were hanging out talking and Keystone made himself comfy in my lap and it was love at first sight (for both Nicki and Gato!). He saw us through growing the gym, CrossFit drama, cross country moves…we have hundreds of pictures like the one below:
Working, eating, trying to do some heavy bathroom activity (as you will see in a moment) always needed the project manager in attendance. One of the toughest things is going to bed and not simply because you now have uninterrupted time to think about things, but because Keystone usually caught wind that it was bed time and simply jumped in bed, took his place on my chest and purred as I pet him and drifted off to sleep. If he happened to be on the other side of the house napping, I’d make a chirping noise and within a minute he’d leap into bed with me, purring and seemingly ecstatic to rack out with his human.
This is the last photo I got of the little guy a few days before he vanished:
I was trying to get some “bathroom work” done and he kept peeking around the corner and provoking to me to try to grab his paw that he pushed around the door jam.
I’ll close with a few thoughts and a final photo I snapped while cleaning up Keystone’s gear we have strewn all over the house. I have to give this cat credit for much of my happiness over the past almost decade. He made me laugh, everyday, multiple times per day. He was the package deal that involved the woman with whom I’d spend my life and have a child. His unconditional love kept me hammering at the keyboard, trying to turn that love back around on the world…that little cat made me a much better person.
This last photo just crushes me every time I look at it, and I’ve titled it “Impression.” That is our spare bed in Nicki’s office and Keystone split time between there and a foot stool with a comfy blanket in my office. It is just so poignant to me, as that little cat has left an impression upon me that will last the rest of my life. Loss and change are the inevitable realities of life, but did our being here make things better? Did we touch those near us?
Did we leave an impression?
GB Keystone, I love you little buddy.