There is a void in our home. It’s most salient in the early morning when Piper nags to be fed. Before Charlotte and Ainslie and Piper, McMahon was my wake call. His raspy and incessant howl would give way to an equally powerful purr the moment wet food touched his bowl. Nourishing that little guy every morning was such a routinized component of my existence that suddenly not doing it feels awkward and wrong.
McMahon died on Saturday. He stopped eating on Wednesday and by Friday it was clear he was in a bad way. Listless, finding odd places to lie, sullen, not himself. The vet ran a bunch of tests on Friday and signaled her deep concern. Concern laced with hope, however. By Saturday morning the sedation was supposed to have worn off, but he still seemed under. Disturbingly weak. His refusal to eat continued in spite of an appetite stimulant and a heartbreaking variety of options placed before him. As Saturday evening gave way to night, I started to imagine Ainslie - the first to rise in our home - waking up to an unbearable scene. He began to howl a howl like nothing I’ve ever heard; he was telling us to take action. Jeanine arrived to take care of the children. Erik and Britt to tend to Piper. We loaded McMahon and headed to the emergency vet. 5 minutes after we arrived, he was gone.
In 1998, McMahon turned me and Maggie into a family. He was unique from the start, a lone tabby in a Siamese litter. From the Novato Humane Society, he came home to our 300 square foot apartment in Mill Valley. In the years since he would visit 22 states and live in 10 different places. He remained remarkably flexible, adapting to Piper, then Ainslie and then Charlotte. He wasn’t always nice about it - truth be told, many would consider him downright mean, perhaps even evil - but he loved us and let us know at just the right times. For 14 years he was a constant in the chaotic and wonderful equation that is my life with Maggie.
His death has been hard on all of us, harder than I expected. Too much loss. Explaining death to a 2 year old is no fun at all. In the last 4 months Ainslie has lost her Opa, her wonderful neighbor Jim, and now McMahon. It feels like too much because it is.
Thank you McMahon. Thank you for teaching us how to care for something other than ourselves and each other. Thank you for making us laugh, holding us accountable, letting us know who’s in charge, and showing us what persistence and stubbornness really is. You were one of a kind. We love you and miss you.