Questions asked over the weekend...
Will you get another cat or two?
I'll never say no...but it will be a couple years, I think. We have never been pet free, not even when we were first married. So...39 years of pet, and we both grew up with them, so really, I don't have a memory of not having furry friends around. And while one might think that's all the more reason to adopt another soonish...we made the conscious decision a few years ago that once Max and Buddah were gone, we would wait a couple of years.
Maybe it's selfish, especially knowing how many dogs and cats are in need of a home, but we truly, deeply, need a break. Max and Buddah were the heart cats, the ones everyone who has ever loved an animal deserves to have, the ones whose presence was so big that its absence carries weight and volume.
And it's no secret...in the last few years, Max was a full time job. Especially in the last few months. In the last 18 months or so, we were tethered to home, never gone more than 3-4 hours, and since July we wouldn't leave him alone for more than 2. He needed and deserved that time and attention and I refused to begrudge him any of it if I could help it.
But we're tired, guys. We need time of our own, not just to heal, but to be able to explore. We miss being able to wander somewhere without planning too much. A day in San Francisco. A spur of the moment trip to Disneyland (when it opens again.) Not cutting lunch short with DKM because I have to get home.
There will surely be another furry friend in our future, but it'll be a couple of years.
Are you donating all your cat food and toys and stuff to a shelter?
The Boy gets first crack at the food. He has two cats, and his mother-in-law has cats, and my heart wants to feed them first. Most of the toys were so far gone that they're not donate-able--Buddah murdered them gloriously--and the cat-scratcher built by the Man is still here. We're not sure where it will go.
But...because we got Buddah from the local SPCA--and they rescued him from a kill shelter--we will make a significant donation in his name. All the royalties from the sale of Interview With a Pest will be donated once the quarterly statement comes out. And before Max died, my editor and I were already discussing a special edition of Bite Me, and if it becomes a reality, the royalties from that will be donated as well. That's not a guarantee, though, so if it falls through, we'll do something else in his name.
And for anyone concerned about Max's annual Christmas toy haul...that will go on, even if his books stop selling. I'll set aside some cash every month, and we'll still do it every December, but now in his honor and memory.
Did you ever figure out what will happen to the Wick books?
We'd already started on the next one, and it will be finished eventually. I can't imagine my life without Wick in it, and it's a way to keep a piece of Max close to me. But what format that will take, I don't know. No Matter The When was a nice capstone to the chronicles, and it could end there, but... I'm not ready to let it go.
The stories might wind up in print, or online if I can figure out a way to protect them from theft.
As to the name they'd be written under? I am really not sure. We started adding my name to the covers with (I think, I'm a little fuzzy right now) the Return of the Wick Chronicles as a just-in-case thing, but in my head they're still Max's books and probably always will be.
What about Ask Max?
There is no Ask Max without him...and I will miss it horribly. I don't know if y'all realize, but he actually sat with me every week as we read and and answered questions. Sometimes he was on the arm of my chair, other times he was on the loveseat nearby, but always present.
Are you okay? With losing both of them so close, I am worried about you.
I promise, I am okay. I don't think I've gone a day without crying since Buddah died, nor an hour since Max died, but fundamentally, I'm all right. I think the Spouse Thingy is, too.
We were blindsided by Buddah's death, and I still feel like he was cheated out of a few years he was owed, but I understand that he was an old man, too. He made it to 15. He and Max lived longer than any other pet I've had the honor of being owned by.
With Max...I had time. We first thought he was headed out a couple of years ago, but were given a graceful buffer thanks to thyroid and kidney treatment. When he boarded the Old Man Rollercoaster in July, we knew we were running out of time with him, and we've had all that time to spoil him as much as he would allow, and we began a very long goodbye then.
That goodbye intensified when we got his cancer diagnosis last month, so we weren't as surprised as we were with Buddah. We're shattered, make no mistake, and it will be a long time before I go a day without tears, but guys...Max made it very clear on Friday that he was done and he wanted out. There were no doubts; he gave me that look, the one that said, please, I want this to stop, and as hard as it is, that look was a gift.
Did they really make peace or is that just a blog kinda thing?
They really seemed to make peace. And they became gentle with each other, especially over the summer. I think they both knew what we didn't, and were intentionally careful with each other.
Guys, Max had not been on my bed in about a year. Even with a step up, he just wasn't comfortable getting up there. But a few days before Buddah died, I found them napping there together, fairly close, and in Buddah's last few days we saw them drinking out of the fountain together. They touched noses. It broke my heart, but I heard what they were saying to each other. Mostly, you drive me batcrap crazy, but I love you.
What can I do to honor Max and Buddah?
Do good in the world where you can. That's it. Find your Thing, even if it's something small, and do it. Because of Max, we were able to make some fairly significant financial contributions to causes that matter to us, and we'll find a way to keep doing those things. I will keep shaving my head for children's cancer research, I'll keep riding for food banks, cancer charities, and I'll keep walking.
Max was snarky online but was so freaking loving in real life, and I always thought that were he human, he'd be the one rolling up his sleeves to do the dirty work. Kids would have mattered to him; feeding people would have mattered to him. He would have done--quietly--whatever he could to make things better.
If you want to honor these guys, be a light that the world needs.
It doesn't have to be huge. It just has to matter. Even tiny things add up to something big. Like two kitties who lent their names to important causes, and because others followed, their tiny flames turned into a giant light.
Just do good. Be kind.
Above all, be kind.