As I’ve discussed previously on this blog, 2016 was a royally crappy year, but 2017 is proving to be an utterly shitty one (I personally don’t like to cuss on this blog, but on seldom occasions it is justified). I mentioned in an earlier post how my sister died in February of this year, and now most recently, during the last few days of May (as I was moving out of my house in Pasadena), I lost my beloved feline son, and best friend, Sebastian. Both Camille and I are shocked, devastated, and feel so, so, so lonely.
Sebastian’s death came as the eye of the storm in a hurricane of other crap that was going on in our lives at the time. We were both moving out of our house (which I am sure almost everyone can relate to as an exhausting experience), I was working on a paper to submit to a peer-reviewed volume (which I am sure most scholars can relate to as an exhausting experience), and Cam was about to begin a work retreat (where she is now), away from our new home, which is currently an un-setup apartment (which I am sure many professionals can relate to as an exhausting experience).
We have been so fucking busy (pardon my French), that this is the first time that I have even had a chance to write Sebastian’s obituary.
The saga of how I adopted him was something of a miracle. While I was living with my old roommate in AZ, we had two cats–one of whom also sadly passed away recently this year (fuck you, 2017!)–and I grew to love both of them. I lived alone in Irvine during the first year of my PhD program, and Cam wouldn’t move out with me to SoCal for another year. I was feeling rather lonely. One day while walking to a seminar, I noticed a friendly orange cat sitting on the sidewalk (whom I later learned was named Jacks), and he was kind enough to let me pet him.
I decided that I wanted a kitty of my own, and so I started to check out some local rescues. I was accepted into seven Classics PhD programs when I started my doctoral studies, and I had to choose UC Irvine to even be in the right location to find Sebastian in the first place. When I was looking at his rescue’s website, there were pictures of probably a hundred cats or so. Sebastian’s photo stood out to me because there was something a little off about him (he was slightly cross-eyed). His profile said that he liked to meow to get attention, and boy did that later turn out to be true!
I know that we all love our pets, but Sebastian was especially close to me for several very deep reasons. Even now he is still giving me so many gifts and so much love. I have never met such a wonderful little critter. I incessantly worked to convince the rescue (who thought that he was un-adoptable) that he was a perfect choice for a pet, and eventually after weeks let them take him home with me.
This year has taught me much about how life is finite, and you can never take any day with your loved ones for granted. I never expected that my sister would pass away at age 30, and I thought I would have more time in life to connect with her. Sebastian lived to be 8 years old, which is young age for a cat to pass away, but Cam and I gave him 5 very wonderful years, full of love, fun, and discovery.
Sebastian was always a very intense cat. Because of his eyesight, he had difficulty doing things that most cats would have less trouble with. He could never jump up onto the kitchen counter, and instead he found ways to crawl up on the stove (we had to put safety locks on the buttons), or he would make daring leaps from the adjacent kitchen table. I think Sebastian got twice the experience out of life as an ordinary cat, because every part of the world was like a puzzle that he was solving.
Sebastian liked to climb the trees in our front yard. It was amazing how he was very limited with short-vision tasks, but he had no problem with climbing tall trees, when he could plot out a course, and then leap up on them. We never had to worry about Sebastian getting lost or not coming down. Sebastian trusted us so much that he would just jump back down when we called him. He virtually never hissed, and he was an extremely gentle fellow.
In the 5 years that I had Sebastian, he transformed from being a scared, huddled down, and quite cat, which the rescue thought was too difficult to be adopted into a family. Once I had the chance to work with him, though, he quickly became closely attached to me, and then started to be very excited and curious. When we were moving out of the house, our other cat (Sneakers) would hide in the cabinets, whenever we brought prospective renters over to see the property. But Sebastian (after all the concerns the rescue had for him) would just sit peacefully on the kitchen counter, and let complete strangers walk up and pet him.
Sebastian had a good life, even if it was shorter than Cam and I would have liked. He got 5 years of being an utterly spoiled cat, in a large house where he could climb trees and explore the world. Cam and I miss him deeply, but at least we know that he spent all the time to the end of his days in happiness. Even when he was euthanized at the animal hospital, Sebastian was purring in his last moments before passing away. He lived a fortunate life all the way to the end.
I miss Sebastian greatly, but I will always treasure the 5 years he gave me with his cute and quirky company. He was one of the most blessed and kind creatures that I have ever known…