And now, here's the joke: "Most gay men have nothing but memories of their first boyfriend, 20 years ago. But I still have the CAT he brought home."
Josie, my beloved cat, has been my constant companion for the past 20 years. She's seen me through some of the darkest periods of my life, and I can't remember a time when she didn't go to sleep at my side - even when I treated her badly. She was a mean cat. Until the last few years, she hated almost everyone. And she often hated me - her owner, the man who bought her catnip toys and gave her Fancy Feast for the last two decades. I often reminded her of this very fact whenever she swatted my feet because I opened a flavor she didn't like…or just glared at me when I entered the room, as if to say: "Oh…it's YOU."
Josie inspired the opening sentence to Goodbye to Beekman Place, and she appears within the story, inside Janeane Lavinski's apartment. She's the "face" of the elevator, the stylized logo of Radio World. She also represents the metaphor of "a cat's many lives," and the reader sees her eyes within Frankie's own - when his human eyes change into cat's-eyes-slits, after a stiff whiskey & Coke. I loved that little bitch. And I genuinely felt grief tonight, when I had to put her down.
For the past three years, Josie has shrunk into a skeleton with fur. Her life was reduced into my bedroom, the living room couch, the kitchen, and the litter box. She slept, she ate, she shat, and she puked…and she became a very dirty cat. She left a trail of fur, dander, and litter everywhere she walked. And she pissed me off too many times to count, when she yack'd on my carpet - or on top of my freshly-laundered bedsheets.
Jesus, those fuckin' shit-Tootsie-rolls on the carpet…
But again, she was my constant-companion. She was always waiting for me, no matter how angry, drunk, or sad I was when I came home. She always sat in the corner, staring at me. She looked at me up and down and said, "So, what did you expect? That's life. Deal with it." And tonight, when I realized that I couldn't keep her alive just because I was lonely, I finally understood what she really meant to me.
I will never, ever forget you, my baby girl…and your memory will be with me always. You will always be alive within my vivid memory, and your death has finally made me understand the importance of human contact - and what I must mean to others.
Depression is "grief," and as stated in Goodbye to Beekman Place, "grief is a cancer, hidden in daily routine." But grief is just a symptom of a larger issue - an elevator that's trying to reach the real world.
Goodbye, my sweet Josie…and Goodbye to Beekman Place.
And hello to the potential of living life on my own…and to not being afraid of being alone, even when I reach next to me at night, and feel a hollow space beside me.