29 November 2020

Chad has been a friend of Max since he was two years old, and a font of sticky-person views on life and cats, why cats are the most awesome of every animal out there, and he had quite a bit of advice for Max on how to deal with having a little brother like Buddah.

I know he's not alone in his wish. Max lived with an absolute certainty that one day he would marry the Doctor, and run off in the TARDIS with her. People pulled for him, and wanted invitations to the inevitable nuptials. 

Of course Max was going to marry her. Max was Max. He got what he wanted.

The idea that he didn't get that broke Chad's heart, and a few others, I'm sure.

So I'm going to tell you what I told Chad this evening: I'm positive Max did get what he wanted. He just didn't have a chance to tell us about it.

Look, we have to remember, the Doctor is a Time Lord and has all of time and space to play with. She can swoop in, whisk you off on a long adventure, and have you back where you were a minute later with no one else the wiser. There was an evening not too long ago when I walked past his bedroom and saw him curled up on the chair in there, yet a minute later when I went past again, he was gone. He wasn't on the chair, nor the sofa, nor the love seat, and he wasn't on the floor.

Now, I assumed he went to the litter box, but I checked and he wasn't there. There was an odd noise behind me, so I turned back to his room...and there he was, on the sofa, taking a bath.

I didn't think much of it at the time, but he did seem awfully content for a cat who had not gotten the flavor of stinky goodness he wanted at dinner. He seemed happy. He stopped licking long enough to glance up at me, and when I asked him where he'd disappeared to, he answered by returning his attention to he nether regions.

He was not in the room when I looked; there was no where else he could have gone without me seeing. So where was he?

Deep in my heart I know.

I bet you know, too.


28 November 2020


Oy. I weighed myself for the first time since the middle of July, I think, and I was not happy (yet not surprised) by the numbers screaming back at me.

I stopped keeping track of the pounds when Max started on his roller coaster and other than racking up miles for the Great Cycle Challenge in September, I haven't been nearly as active as I was before. I was getting some miles in, but not with the intensity I needed and not as many as I normally would have, and I honestly did not care.

My focus was on the cats, not on myself so much, and especially after Buddah died I just didn't care to pay a lot of attention to what I ate and how much. I doubled down when Max died.

Straight up, I don't care about the weight. It's not something I'm going to beat myself up about, because kummerspeck is a real thing and I think kinda necessary to function when the worst hits. But it's also time to get back on the bike, back to tracking food, and to get what I gained off, and then some.

For the record, it's 15 pounds since July. 

I just need to get those off plus a few bonus pounds before I see my endocrinologist in June. I mean, she would understand, but my self-competitive streak will not want to get on the scale at my appointment unless I'm a little lower than I was last June. I'd been on a pretty decent but slow loss of body fat and I have a goal in mind. It's just going to take a little longer to get there now. I'm giving myself today and tomorrow, mostly because there's cookie dough in the fridge to be baked and I damn well want some, and cinnamon rolls to bake in the morning if I wake up before the Spouse Thingy goes to bed.

Still, it's time to get back to taking better care of myself.

The switch flipped for me last night, I think, because Max's ashes were ready for pickup, and he's now home, resting in his TARDIS next to Buddah. It's time to reach for a greater sense of happy.

A friend asked me what I thought I'd blog about from here on out, given that a lot of what I talked about was my cats.

I don't know.

So...we'll see.

I'm almost ready to get back to work; I probably would have today, but instead I'm decorating for the holidays, and my goal is to make this place look like Christmas threw up all over the house. I'm not sure we'll decorate outside, but inside? Hell yes.

This year has sucked so freaking hard...but maybe the rest of it doesn't have to. 

I will miss the little furballs and I doubt I'll make it through a day without tears for a while,'s time to be happy and just enjoy things, and be grateful for the time we had.


20 November 2020


“Quiet has weight; it has a heartbeat; it carries sounds that once were and amplifies the soft sighs of footsteps now gone. It draws attention to empty corners, little nooks that will now gather dust, and it wraps around memories in a grief-painted ribbon. It echoes at night, steals sleep, and begs to be filled with things fingertips will never again touch.”

 ~Me, at 4 am on one of the many nights sleep evaded me this week

I have an adult-life-long history of insomnia. It’s usually one or two nights of being awake until 3-4 am, followed by several nights of almost normal sleep, but this last week has been brutal. I’m getting roughly 4 hours, and not all at once. I know it’s largely owed to grief; I’ve had pets before and been there as they’ve left us, but I’ve never been hit this hard by their loss.

I don’t know if it’s because we lost Buddah and Max so close to each other, or because it was Buddah and Max, but I feel it so much more this time.

I hear the quiet. I find myself listening for paw steps in the hallway. Every time I go past Max’s bedroom I glance in and I automatically look to the one spot he seemed to favor. When I’m sitting in the living room, I find myself looking to the right, to the other room, to the places he lounged most often. When I walk from the back of the house to the front, I catch myself looking to the top of the Tardis, where I often saw little black ears poking up.

I have no expectation of seeing them. It’s habit. I’m so used to listening for the cadence of paw steps that tell me if Max is heading my way and is fine, or if he’s limping his way to the litter box. Creaks make me turn my head because they sound like Buddah tracking litter-dusted paws across my desk and up the bookcases. And at night, my brain expects the sound of Max in the next room, on the back of his sofa, his paws scraping across the wall, waiting for him to begin singing because it’s night and that’s what he did.

It’s not like I’ve forgotten they’re gone. But the listening is a habit, and one I don’t think I’ll shake soon.

That habit has amplified the quiet. And the quiet has amplified the insomnia.

It’s a process. I’m fine. It’s one of those get through it to get over it kind of things, and I know there’s place I’ll reach where the quiet won’t feel so big.

But…it also makes me dread losing a person, because if I’m grieving this hard over cats? I don’t even want to go there and can’t imagine how completely horrific it is for those who have lost someone especially close to them.

New rule: no one else dies before I do. And since I intend on sticking around until I’m so old I fart dust, they’re stuck here for a while.


15 November 2020

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 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.


13 November 2020

This is not the post I wanted to write. Ever. And it’s not the post Max deserves, nor what all of you deserve. But right now I’m shattered, and I can’t find the words that will do him justice. I’m not sure I will ever be able to.

Max had a spectacular day on Monday. He felt okay, ate well, and his Younger Human came to see him. He was given all the treats he cared to eat, and was about as happy as a cranky old man could be. Tuesday through Thursday were okay. Not fantastic, but okay. He ate, he sat in my lap (a lot) and just kind of hung out. Last night I couldn’t sleep, so at 2 am he curled up in my lap for an hour, even though I wasn’t wearing pants.

We all know how much he hates bare legs.

But this morning he was off a little bit. He didn’t want his cheese bite (with a dreaded seed inside) and wasn’t interested in food. I wasn’t worried then because sometimes it takes a while for his appetite to kick in, so I left him to nap in his room for a bit. I offered fresh food later, which he licked at, but he didn’t eat anything.

I wasn’t worried until he pooped in the bathroom and stepped in it. He didn’t fight me when I washed his feet off, and when I was done he just curled up on his favorite floor spot in his bedroom. Even then, I thought it was just a bad day.

But a little while later I found him near the litter box, he’d clearly tried to make it, but couldn’t quite stand up to do it. And when he made his way back to his room, he walked with his legs splayed, not in a straight line, and he just looked miserable. His eyes were glassy, face was pinched, and he just looked done.

Mike made the call, and we took him in at 4:30. He wanted to be held, so I wrapped my rms around and rocked him back and forth until the vet came in, and he stayed there until the end. I felt his last breath on my arm, felt him finally relax, and he left us at 4:50.

I am gutted, yet also so incredibly grateful that we had 19-1/2 years with him. He was, without exaggeration, the smartest cat I’ve ever known, and was absolutely amazing. He was spoiled beyond belief, but he deserved every bit of it, and because of him I’ve met people who have become the best friends I could hope for. What started as a whim—a blog written from his point of view—turned into something amazing, and was admittedly at the forefront of cat blogging. My only real consolation is that he’s on his way to be with Buddah, to help his little brother navigate the Bridge, and I’m sure there will be a raging Bridge-trashing party that runs all weekend.

A little truth…online Max was snarky and grouchy—and he was in real life, too—but he was also sweet and affectionate, and loved me at levels that often felt unnatural. My lap was where he wanted to be, he often wanted to shove his nose up mine, and we carried on long, drawn out conversations that I’m pretty sure I got right on my end. His intelligence often blew me away…and irritated me. We still talk about his discovery at 4 years old, when we had the dresser in the bathroom near the light switch. He figured out how to turn it off and on, and did so with glee…at 3 in the morning.

The light—and he knew it—streamed right to the head of the bed, in my face.

Max was the cat who could sit on the bathroom vanity and look in the mirror, understanding that the cat he saw was him. If he’d had something on his face, seeing it in his reflection would have prompted him to swipe a paw across his face to get it off (conversely, Buddah was positive the cat in the mirror was an intruder, though he did finally stop hissing at it. Gawd, I miss that goofball.) He could puzzle things out, and the only thing that saved us from an obnoxiously high gas bill was because he wasn’t strong enough to flip the switch on the fireplace.

He knew how, he just couldn’t get leverage.

Our world got quite a bit quieter tonight. He was a small cat in the end, having gone from nearly 19 pounds to 9, but he filled all the quiet spaces with his personality. I often joked that I’d stolen him from his Younger Human—when he brought Max home it was with the caveat that when he moved, so did the cat—but Max made it clear who his chosen person was, and I will be forever honored.

On Monday, I told the Boy that I wasn’t sorry anymore that I’d stolen his cat. Tonight I thanked him for it.

I will miss that furball forever, but doods, having him…it was glorious.



8 November 2020

Max: I'm hungry. Feed me.

Me: Sure. Just a minute.

Max: Now. Feed me.

Me: Can I take five seconds to put the computer down?

Max: Now. Feed me.

Me: [feeds him] Better?

Max: No. I don't like this. Feed me something good.

Me: [opens another can] Fine. Eat this.

Max: Nope. Try again. But leave this here because I might lick the juice up later.

Me: You need to eat, furball. [opens one more can]

Max: Meh. I want something tasty.

Me: That's it. That's nine ounces of food you usually like. Pick one.

Max: Nah. [walks off]

Me: [mumbles under breath, goes back to work]

10 minutes later

Max: I'm hungry. Feed me.


I did not feed him again. There are a total of five plates in various spots around the house, and if he were really hungry, he would eat off one of them. I suspect there's something he wants more than anything I've offered, but I can't figure it out. I'm all for indulging his whims these days, but at an average of a buck a can, there are limits.

Just to make sure he eats enough, I think I offer 10-12 cans a day. Old men are spendy.


Overall, for a cat his age with his medical issues, he's doing all right. He has days when he eats enough to make me happy, and days he just doesn't seem to want anything; there are days I know he's uncomfortable, but those are usually followed by a string of good ones. We can predict when the bad days are coming; on a really good day he's as active as he was 3-4 years ago, wandering the house, jumping onto his new perch by the window, jumping down, jumping to get to my lap...all the movement takes a toll. His sarcoma is on the inside of his back left leg, so I imagine he just gets sore after having a good day.

We're on the fence about having him put on Gabapentin for it; it would help with the pain (and he can't have any NSAIDs because of his kidney disease) but it can have a sedative effect. Which do we think he needs more? Less pain or more activity? Is there a medium? He's handling it well as it is, I think, but we need to start thinking about it.


Yes, life is mostly about Max these days. That's how it should be, I think. He certainly seems to believe it.


Max, 40 minutes later: I'm hungry. Feed me.