by wjw on June 14, 2008

I’ve lost two friends to cancer in the last week.

The first was Erick Wujcik, and the second my companion of 17 years, the cat named Sandman.

Though his black-and-white coloration might make it seem obvious, he wasn’t named after the Neil Gaiman character. He acquired the name Sandman because, as a kitten, he did very little but sleep. I had thought that kittens were compulsively active, but not this one.

Sandman was a one-man cat. He’d follow me around the house to keep me under observation; he’d snarl if other cats got near me; and when I was away, he’d guard my office to keep others— particularly other cats— away.

In this photo, he’s giving me a new hairstyle.

Sandman fell ill when I was away at Rio Hondo— a little over three weeks ago. He was seriously losing weight— two pounds since the previous visit to the vet. After a trip to the vet, I got some meds, which produced a temporary improvement.

By yesterday, he’d lost another two pounds. He had very little energy and didn’t eat. I was teaching Taos Toolbox, so our wonderful housesitter Nan took him to the vet and received the news that he had a large, cancerous mass in his abdomen.

I left the workshop so that I’d be with him when we put him to sleep. All praise to the Toolies: they were very forgiving.

At least his illness was brief.

Lance June 14, 2008 at 7:40 pm

I’m sorry to hear about Sandman. Losing a family member is never an easy event.

I’ve been thinking recently about the critters that have joined my family in the last couple of years (the nascent event was dating then marrying a ‘dog’ person although I adopted a cat before who acts like a dog. He’s even sitting next to me now as I type). These little guys (ok, a one-year old 70 lbs black lab puppy isn’t little…but she still thinks she can curl up in my lap) truly are our kids now. We play with them when they’re bored, lavish them with treats when they’re good, train with them every day, and when they get sick take them to the vet and cry when we can’t make the pain go away.

I don’t know what I’d do now without them in my life. The idea of losing them to accident, age, or illness scares me more than anything.

I think it’s time to go out and play in the yard…with the kids 🙂

Maureen McHugh June 14, 2008 at 10:35 pm

Oh Walter. I’m so sorry.

Nan June 15, 2008 at 12:29 am

He had beautiful, light golden eyes with amber and olive flecks. His ear tips curled out just a little bit like an oriental slipper, so I used to call him The Turkish Prince. He was truly Walter’s cat, despite his occasional hairdressing of other humans, and would tell anyone else who tried to pick him up that they were NOT WALTER with startling War Cries, but he was always a gentleman and never scratched or hurt, even when Silly Auntie (me) scooped him up and subjected him to a most undignified petting against his will, to hear him purr. I’ll miss you, Sweet Prince!

Rebecca S. June 15, 2008 at 12:30 am

Much sympathy to you, Walter. Sandman sounds, and looks, like a wonderful guy. You had many years together; I’m glad you were able to be there at the end.

Xerxes won’t know it’s in honor of Sandman, but he’s going to get some extra love and a chewy treat tonight.

JRS June 15, 2008 at 5:26 am

My condolences, sir, on the loss of your cat.


Paul Weimer June 15, 2008 at 11:43 am

Having lost several cats over the years, you have my sympathies and my condolences on your loss.

Zora June 15, 2008 at 1:29 pm

He had a long and happy life. You did good by him. Still … it hurts. My sympathies.

S.M. Stirling June 15, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Sorry to hear about that, Walter. It’s hard, losing one of the little fellahs.

idiotgrrl June 16, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Deepest sympathies on losing Sandman. I know what it’s like to lose a beloved cat. That picture of you and Sandman is marvelous.

Melinda Snodgrass June 17, 2008 at 5:01 pm

Oh, Walter, I’m so sorry. They just wrap themselves around our hearts, and tear away a little piece every time we lose one.


Kelly June 17, 2008 at 10:01 pm

Dear Walter and Kathy, I am very sorry for your loss. These fuzzy people are so important parts of our families, and they can’t be replaced.

*hugs and hugs*

mindseas June 18, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Sorry that you lost your feline pal. Sandman reminds me of my photogenic old black and white cat Dice, who passed on a couple years ago.


Foxessa June 19, 2008 at 11:44 pm

I just saw this.

Many condolences on the loss of both of your long-time friends.

I’m so sorry.

Love, C.

Ralf the Dog June 24, 2008 at 3:06 pm

A short time ago, I came into 21 year old Ms. Katt’s room and found her dead. When they get old, you know it is coming. Its a slow dread you can’t hide from.

I still hear the sound she made when she jumped onto the hardwood floor. Just remember, it does get easier.

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