epic journey, the

a week plus past Henry's death. it's still all around us but easing slightly, in particular when we're able to recall his amazing life and his badass character. his adventures were voluminous and tight-rope walker-like, fearless in the face of danger. there's the cystitis, the leap from a 2nd fl window in los angeles, the cat fights, the abcesses etc, but nothing more embodies his character than the epic journey in 2006. We moved from the 14th street house in Brooklyn in SE Portland to the Alder house in Belmont. We kept the cats inside for a few days so they could adjust. Finally when we let them out Henry didn't come home one night. We panicked, fearing the worst. Eight days later he turned up at the old house, navigating by internal radar, w/o food or water, crossing belmont, hawthorne, division, powell. Badass mothereffer.


five years

five years ago at this moment, m and i lived in a hotel for 2.5 months in cambridge, mass so i could receive proton beam radiation on what remained of my brain tumor after two surgical resections. we continually find ourselves reminding ourselves of this experience, like a trip to a phantom universe we keep forgetting that we visited and one whose powers impact all subsequent memories, covering them in a gauzy low-lit glow that causes them to feel at once immediate and a hundred years ago.

Here is the machine that I lay on five days a week, head fastened, immobilized.

this half-forgotten dream is a luxury that not everybody gets to dream


beautiful and fleeting

forgot to add this moment: sitting on the curb Sunday night, crying over Henry's dead body, a black and white neighborhood cat materialized, approached us, mewing. Then moments later another neighborhood cat appeared, orange and puffy, coming from a different direction, both regarding Henry's body with an admixture of concern, curiousity and a seeming understanding that Henry was no more, and that we were witnessing his spirit's passage. It was a penetratingly beautiful bit of light in an otherwise dark evening.

i love you hank



the last weekend of Henry 10.17.2010

saturday, am we get up and make breakfast, sitting out side on the deck. you and strunk are standing on the table before we eat. you look like two little statues but then she hisses at you. when the food is on the table you attempt repeatedly to get jump up from a chair. you are extremely persistent and i swat you away multiple times w/ the paper. later m goes to laurelhurst park to meet friends and i'm laying on the futon w/ a cozy green blanket. you enter the room, see me, jump up and start purring. i scratch at your head, the bit between your eyes over your nose. you love it.

sun am, you enter our bedroom and begin your mewing to express dissatisfaction or eagerness for breakfast. i'd already gotten up to let strunk out 45 min earlier. i manage to pull you on my chest and keep you there where you purr loudly, laying across my belly. it is the last time you sleep on me. that morning m feeds you and strunk jellied tuna parts which is a delicacy and she ends up giving you the whole can. when we get back from yoga we cook breakfast, i make coffee and as per your usual request i give you some cream and then some more cream. it is the perfect autumnal afternoon now, the october sun warming us all on the back deck, crisp as hell. at one point i see you sprawled out, laying prostrate under the table and for a split-second i picture your death, after all you had that swollen eye thing a few wks ago and you're no spring chicken anymore. but you're alive and well, enjoying what must be the perfect day for a cat. later LB is laying there next to you, his paws grazing the top of your head. later m is off the deck in the backyard helping me w/ the composter. this gives you the opportunity to jump up onto the table and attempt to eat what's left of her eggs. she has to run back twice. later, when we're back sitting there you jump up and scavenge off her plate.

m and i go to ikea to get slats for our bed.  we come home. we take LB to the park and throw the tennis ball w/ him. when we come home you and strunk are eager for dinner. i feed you your part of a can, crushing your pill for the eye thing into the food. then i put the rice on for people dinner and help m put the slats on the bed. i leave to walk to the grocery. is it here? do you exit when i do out the front door? i already can't recall. if you did, this is the last time i'll see you alive. yes, wait that was it. you ran out with me. i went to retrieve the shopping list from the car and you were in our driveway, to my left. as i shut the door i recalled all the times you'd jump into the car if the door was open.

we eat dinner and watch two l & o svu's from season 2. when it's done i get on the computer and m taps the side of a can out on the porch and says 'i put the call out. when you're done there you get him'. this is our ritual. we put the call out for you, summoning you back from your kit adventures. sometimes it's instant, sometimes 10 to 15 minutes. but you always come. usually we hear your bell from near or far, tinkling as you run back. in los angeles you lived in an apartment for 7 years, always aching to be outside. when we moved to portland we let you run free.  but we always made sure you came in at night time. i brush my teeth and then tap the can from the front porch. nothing. no bell tinkling.  i go to the back porch. nothing.

i go back to the front porch and tap the can and hear nothing. it is eerily quiet. then i see it. a black shape laying across the street in the neighbor's yard. it could be a scarf or a discarded piece of something but as i go down the steps and across the street, growing closer i see that it is a cat, curled up as if sleeping.  my stomach plummets. wait, is it you? there's no collar. for the teeniest of split-seconds i think that maybe it's not you but a look-alike. but i feel the tail and that is how i know - you have a distinctive broken tail. it is you, my love. dead. you are gone.  you look as if you could just be sleeping but underneath you i see blood. your eyes are frozen open.someone has lain tiny flowers on your body. i don't know whether to pick you up or not, i end up going back to the house. i find your collar and tag and bell - crushed - laying in the street. i put them in my pocket. i tell m. moments later we are both outside sitting by you, both dumbstruck, crying, disbelieving. we put you in a cardboard box and take you inside and cry some more. we sit over your box in the living room trying to show strunk and LB. i am crying so hard that LB is more concerned with me, licking the tears off my face. i pour a tiny bit of cream for you. i light a candle.

just like that you are gone. nearly 15 years old. a robust life, suddenly over. and you are so warm. it must have just happened. just as we were sitting inside, watching the computer screen. how can you be so warm and no longer be alive? we each hallucinate seeing you take a breath. but no, there is no doubt: the life has left your body. we each speak about you. how glad we are that it happened like this, that it wasn't some debilitating disease, and that we are glad you died right away, that the car or bike who hit you didn't merely maim you, leaving us to take you the emergency clinic, with you in mortal agony, forced to decide whether to have you put down or not. no, this was a swift journey and we thank whomever needs to be thanked for such a mercy as that. we send you energy and good vibes to help you cross over. we check the times of the pet crematory. in the morning we will take you to be burned to ashes. but for tonight, we put you and the box outside, where you would most like to be, so that you can run free. one last time.


Farewell Henry

Henry (aka Henry Malone-Padian, aka Hank, aka Handsome Hank)
3.17.1996 - 10.17.2010
godspeed good friend. you are sorely missed

Henry & Maxwell in Los Angeles