Charlie was the first pet that I considered my own, my companion, my responsibility, my friend. During the summer of 2010, he died. I found his legs sticking out from under the bed. I pulled him out and sat with him most of the night.
This was when I became a vegetarian. His body disgusted me. His meat became soft, then deflated. Too much liquid drooled from his mouth. Then his body hardened in a bizarre way, in bizarre spots.
I don't remember much except staring at the white wall and thinking of nothing. But under nothing was an immense amount of guilt. I had put Charlie through a lot. I had him neutered and declawed (to protect furniture). I had trained him to piss and shit in a litterbox. A few months before he died I took him to the vet because he had taken to peeing in corner of my apartment, and I eventually thought I saw blood. So I forced antibiotics down his throat. But his habit returned. I yelled and rushed over to pick him up and drop him in the proper place, in the scented pebbles. Then he stopped jumping and swatting at my feet. Two days later he stopped drinking and eating. I forced water into him with a dropper. I had no money, but my mother agreed to pay for a vet visit. That was the night Charlie died.
Charlie's whole life had been a tedious domestication that lead up to this point. Everything within him left; his belly flattened. He finally became just an object.
All of the frustration, stress, and anger that came with fitting Charlie into my life had defined him as more than just a possession. I hope these feelings meant that I loved him not for his docility, but his difficulty. That I loved his intelligence.