Nov 092023

We first met in early December 2004. He and his brother were 2-month-old kittens at the Marin Humane Society. I was separated from my first wife, living alone in a 2-bedroom house in Terra Linda and trying to make it feel like home. Nancy Jones was moving in with me, and we spontaneously visited the humane society and took matching black kittens with us. Being the nerd that I am, I named them Edwin P. Hubble and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, two famous astronomers. As an aside, Chandrasekhar was famous for theoretical physics work with black holes, and another famous astronomer named Schwartzchild computed the event horizon radius for black holes. So Jen and I have ironically nicknamed him “Schwartzchild” in honor of his solid black presence 🙂

Hubble and Chandra quickly endeared themselves, destroying Christmas ornaments, climbing the Christmas tree, curtains, screen doors… They were companions through divorce, creation of new relationship, remarriage, buying land and building a house. We moved to Novato, then San Rafael while the house was under construction, then moved here in 2008. In 2011, we lost Chandra to kidney disease, my mother’s 14-year-old German Shepherd to cancer, and then Nancy to leukemia complications. When all the dust settled, my household went from five down to just the two of us.

My house has always had Hubble in it. Hubble was in the space as Jen and I created our relationship, and when she moved in with me seven years ago. His quirky presence and siamese-like voice have been in my life through so much change and evolution that I hardly remember who I was before he moved in.

Two years ago, he was losing weight and drinking a ton of water. Our vet confirmed my fears, he had some kind of abdominal cancer, and only 15% of his kidney function. So we shifted his diet a bit, and started giving him a dropper of CBD each day. It worked so well that he became a stoner cat, plaintively meowing for the CBD and licking it straight from the dropper. He’s gradually wanted more and more of it, so the daily ritual became every four hours, then three, and finally two. We went from cat-strength to dog-strength, until he was finally consuming about 25mg of CBD a day. His weight stabilized, and our miracle cure seemed to keep him happy and comfortable, even though he became less steady on his feet, and began looking rather gaunt. I knew I was going to need to put him to sleep sooner or later, and I asked him to let us know when he was ready to go. And I told him every day that I loved him.

Alas, his failing health became more evident a couple of months ago, and I could feel the end coming soon. This photo was taken by a friend in early September. This is a cat in pain.

It all became clear Saturday night, when he started throwing up and yowling at 2am. More CBD helped, he settled down for a couple of hours, and it all happened again at 4:30. I contacted my vet on Sunday via email, and we confirmed a time for her to come on Monday. Sunday night was a repeat of Saturday, and there was no doubt in our minds that it was time to let him go.

The end was lovely and gentle, as Dr. Rose gave him progressive medication, I held him in my lap, and Jen bore witness.

Now I am getting used to life without him. It’s strange, and strangely quiet. His spirit visits on occasion; I awoke Tuesday morning feeling him sprawled on top of me, purring away. When Jen is gone, and I’m alone in the house, it feels quite different. We all miss him, not only Jen and I, but the house and the land as well. One of the longest relationships of my life is coming to an end.

  One Response to “good-bye, schwartzchild”

  1. And no less important then all who came before. I have a personal relationship with every one of the 7 dogs and s variety of other animals we had as kids. There is something about the sound of a home after losing a little buddy. I had two dogs just once and watched the other mourn for 6 months. I don’t feel the same when it’s someone who can tell you the change is coming. I’ve helped others with this but there is no loss quite as empty as a long term relationship with your animals. There’s a tragedy happening right now which is all of these kitties who have been turned in since the pandemic. Remember this it is important that good people adopt cats and dogs. They are just so lucky to have us as their parents or whatever relationship you wish to call it. Sound of a home without the voice may be exactly what you don’t want. There’s somebody sitting in a shelter right now that needs a home when you come up for air think about that.

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