Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.
Those are the first lines of my favourite book of all time, Ulysses, and the inspiration for this guy’s name. He went to sleep for the last time this past Thursday, surrounded by his family and his best friend, Reido.
Before the kids went to school on the Wednesday, my wife and I explained that he might not be coming home from the vet. So, Reid brings down all his stuffies and puts them around Mulligan.
He wasn’t able to walk much and hung around his food and water bowls. I carried him every so often to his litter box to see if he would go to the washroom.
Reid went right down to eye level and talked to Mulligan and I asked what he was doing.
“All my stuffies have known Mulligan at least as long as I have. He’s known Monkey just as long as I have. They all want to say goodbye.”
If I had to mortgage the house to save this cat, I would have signed the papers right then and there. But money wouldn’t fix Mulligan. He was just old. Fourteen years old – almost as long as Mell and I have been married.
Mell and I agreed to treat him for 24 hours and see if he would stabilize. After that, it would be just maintaining with diet and medication. No problems there. Like I said, no matter what the cost. I wouldn’t be able to face Reid if he asked me if we tried everything.
It sounded good in the evening when I called, and again in the morning. He might be turning around. But, in the afternoon, when the doctor explained that the kidney disease had turned to kidney failure and it was time to say goodbye and I turned into a blubbering mess.
When it came time to make the final decisions about the urn, Reid and Elena decided what to get. Reid wanted to make sure it matched the colours in his room, because “that’s where he’s going to go, right?”
Finally, the attendant asked if we wanted to be there for the whole thing. Meaning the euthanol injection.
“Fuck, no,” was my first response. Then Mell stepped in. It was Reid’s cat, she said. And he was. The two were together all the time. If Reid was playing, Mulligan sat with him. If Reid was on his tablet or doing anything, Mulligan wasn’t far away. And the stuffies.
We asked him what he wanted and he wanted to stay with his friend. So, we all gathered around, took a few last pictures, and Reid petted and held his friend until the doctor put her stethoscope to Mullie’s chest and said that she couldn’t hear any more heart movement. He just went to sleep. We stayed with him a little while longer and then just said goodbye.
A bouquet of flowers came today from the vet’s office – a very pretty arrangement. And we should be bringing home his ashes before the end of the month and they will be going straight to his buddy’s room.
I’m going to miss the little bastard. Swear to you, I felt his nose on my shin as I was typing this evening. I do want another cat and I think Reid does, too.
“It doesn’t matter what pet we get, Daddy,” Reid explained. “Because whatever we get, Mulligan is going to come back as part of it, right? Right, Daddy? Just like that movie about the dogs. Mulligan can come back as a dog, right?”
And you know what? He’s right.