I turned 13 this past Friday. My Mom had been saying for months that she just wanted me to make it to my birthday, so I held out for her, but things started to go downhill the next day. Mom tried to find ways to keep me comfortable but in the end it wasn’t enough, so she held me and rocked me to sleep, murmuring how loved I was, how grateful she was for every moment of the past 13 years, that it wouldn’t hurt anymore now, that she would love me forever.
She talked to me about my life, from the moment we met in a shelter in Western Massachusetts, when I was only ten weeks old. I liked to sleep half buried in the (clean) litter box in my kennel while my littermates played, and as soon as Mom came in, she spotted me and made a beeline for the kennel. Gazing in at the three kittens inside, she pointed at me, dozing in my spot, and announced, “That’s my cat! The little weird one!” She took me out and we cuddled (well, she cuddled. I climbed her arms and sniffed her face and chewed on her hair), but then she put me back in so she could check out the other kittens “just to be fair.” I stood at the door of my kennel the entire time, yelling at her to get back over here, because clearly we’d just had a moment.
In the end, she agreed, and two days later she came to pick me up. She reminded me that the first day she brought me home, she settled down for a nap with me, and I decided I absolutely had to sleep on the pillow next to her head, curled up in a tiny ball. As I got older, that stayed my spot—on the pillow with Mom, purring her to sleep (or exfoliating her forehead awake at 5AM). Turned out I grew up into a pretty big cat, and the pillow seemed to be getting increasingly smaller. We still found a way to make it work when I figured out I could wrap myself around her head like a pair of earmuffs. She sometimes complained about waking up with a mouthful of fur but I knew she didn’t mind.
I was what my Grandma refers to as “a character” when I was little (Mom prefers to use the term “maniac.”) She smuggled me into a dorm room at Smith College for one summer, and I had this habit of escaping down the hall when she opened the door. I also really liked to use her mattress as a springboard to fly into the screened window by her bed. I’d dig my claws in and hang by all four paws, like a suction-cup Garfield on a car window. Mom about peed herself every time.
I weighed about 3 and a half pounds at this point, so it was pretty mystifying to Mom when I somehow managed to unplug her refrigerator. Twice. I never did show her how I made it happen. A man’s gotta leave a little mystery.
As I grew up, Mom and I were a team pretty much from day one. We lived with other people and we lived with other cats, but everybody who encountered us knew right away that we had a particularly special bond. Mom really does like me best. Take that, Bug and Cassie.
My body wasn’t always a good sport. Asthma, arthritis, some suspicious lumps that ended up being benign (after I went through a big surgery to remove them). We handled all of that one thing at a time, and Mom always took good care of me, even if sometimes I made it hard.
Then came the big one. Two years ago Mom took me to the vet to point out some nodules under my skin. After removal, they came back positive for something called neurofibrosarcoma, a soft-tissue tumor that’s really invasive locally. It’s impossible to cure, but there were plenty of options for keeping it at bay, and Mom threw everything we had at it (but she never stopped asking how it would impact my quality of life and if it was worth putting me through the latest intervention).
In the end, the hard work of the oncology department at LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital (especially Dr. Dedeaux, Dr. Boudreaux, and Tammy and Shay) and the collaboration of my regular vet, Magazine Street Animal Clinic, (Dr. Scott and Dr. Amy and Teresa and Rei in particular) combined to give me two whole years after diagnosis. Without the interventions I would likely have had no more than a couple months. There were some rough times in there, but Mom helped me through them and in the end, I was always happy to crawl into her lap, purr, and exfoliate her forehead. Eventually, though, we ran out of options, and when my body started to fall apart on Saturday, Mom knew right away that it was almost time. She did everything she could to keep me comfortable, but yesterday night she looked at me, restlessly shifting around, unable to get comfortable, unable to sleep, unwilling to eat, and said “it’s time, buddy, isn’t it?”
She was right. It was time to let go.
When we woke up this morning, Mom crawled over next to me and I gave her the very last purrs I had in me, rumbling my affection while she rested her head on my side and listened to my heartbeat. Then she made a phone call. She cried while she was on the phone. She cried so much the past few days. I wish she wasn’t so sad, but goodbyes are hard. After she got off the phone, I curled up against her, playing the little spoon one last time while she gently stroked me and crooned to me.
Dr. Scott and Teresa, my friends from Magazine Street Animal Clinic, came right to the house to help Mom rock me to sleep. My grandparents also stayed with me, and my friend Bobbie came, too. I’m glad they were there for Mom after I was gone. In the end, it was fast and painless, and with my Mom cradling me in her arms, I let go.
I’m not in pain anymore, and I was loved with a ferocity and dedication that very few cats (or people) have experienced. Mom told me she would love me every day until the day she dies, and even though I couldn’t speak, I think she knows that I loved her every day right up through the final moments. She was it for me, and me for her. Mom says she’s incredibly lucky that I came into her life. I think we were both lucky.
My name is Imp. I turned 13 last Friday, and today, I died. But before that, I lived a damn good life.
The moment that always sticks out for me is in Episode 5, when we see her take out five Confederatos that are holding Jimmi Simpson’s character hostage,” Wood told IndieWire in a new interview. “They grab him and pin him up against a wall, and he yells, ‘Dolores, run!’ The first take we did, I ran—I’m not supposed to run. Everyone was kind of looking around, confused, and then I slowly crept back onto set and they asked, ‘What happened?’ And I said, ‘I’m so used to running. I’ve never been asked to stay and save the day.’ I got a little teary-eyed, and a couple of women on the set got a little teary-eyed, and I thought, ‘Wow. This character is really important.’
Evan Rachel Wood on “
Why This Westworld Scene Made Evan Rachel Wood Cry” for Vanity Fair