Losing Desdemona was rough. Losing Iago was tougher than I ever imagined.
Iago had been sick for a couple years, but he remained stubborn throughout. After his diagnosis with Cushing's disease and diabetes, and after he was placed on medication to treat him, he regained some his swagger -- swagger we hadn't seen in years.
That swagger is what I'll always remember about him. He was a demanindg, meowy cat. If you didn't pet him, he'd meow at you: "Why aren't you petting me?" If you did pet him, he'd meow at you: "Why did it take you so long to pet me?" He had his opinions, and he would tell you them.
Here's my favorite Iago story, when he was about 7 months old. Wife and I had found our first apartment together, and we were moving in one Saturday. The kittens were understandably freaked out and weren't yet to explore their new, much bigger apartment. We had our front door open, and a neighbor came by to introduce herself, and her cat strolls in to say hi as well. This cat was big and walked like a bulldog. Iago wasn't full size yet, but stared this bulldog cat down and hissed at it. The other cat, probably thinking he wasn't in the mood to deal with this overconfident kitten, turned around and walked back into the hallway. After that, Iago and Desi embraced their new home and ran around the hardwood floors all night, keeping us awake after a long day of moving.
We originally were just going to come home from Wife's parents with one cat, but she was concerned the one cat would be lonely. So we picked Iago because he looked like the most out going of the remaining kittens. Over the years, with due respect to Wife's love for him, I always felt he was my cat -- which meant something considering I had never owned a cat before. He would always come to me first with that obnoxious meow, and maybe I gravitated toward him because he wasn't like those cute, shy cats I had known.
That's why Iago's death hit me so hard. We were still mourning Desi and then we lost Iago. His skin split from the Cushing's, and this time, it couldn't be stitched back together. We noticed it on a Monday night; by Wednesday morning, his skin was falling apart so badly that there was nothing that could be done other than euthanize him. Unlike Desi, who had been going downhill for a couple weeks, I didn't have time to get used to the idea that Iago was going to die. And unlike Desi, he was stubborn until the end -- we needed to make the decision for him to let go of that swagger.
I brought him home from the vet the night before he was euthanized - basically, so we could say goodbye -- and I sobbed on the way home. I sobbed like I never had at the thought of a loved one's death. I didn't want him to go.
What was sad too is that the cats might have been the last link to the life Wife and I had when we were first dating, when we lived in Milwaukee together in the mid-1990s, when we lived in Madison and got married. It was always us and the cats. And though I'm not lamenting that those times are over -- because we have wonderful kids and a happy life here in SLC -- but it was a sober reminder that this part of our life will end someday, too. The boys will grow up, Maggie will grow up, and we'll move on to the next phase, which will bring its own joys, but will remind us that nothing's permanent.
The cats' passing did bring about a good thing -- we adotped Maggie, who hopefully will be with us well into the next decade. We're looking to getting a dog, too, in the next few months. We'll never forget Desdemona and Iago, but their spirit will live on in our love for Maggie and future puppy.