I have been avoiding writing about this until now for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, I don't really want to concede that it's real. I guess I've got a mild case of Ostrich Syndrome . . or is it Flamingos that put their head in the sand? Either way, if I continue my nonchalance and naivete I can avoid dealing with my true emotions. Truth be told, the veneer is starting to wear thin.
The second reason I've avoided the subject is that I really don't like the thought of assigning blame for accidents. Sure, someone's responsible, but malice is conspicuously absent. Nonetheless, because of the depth of the emotional wound left there will no doubt be resentment and grudge holding, at least on a private level. My hope is that this remains in the correct perspective and isn't allowed to damage friendships that, as humans, should be more important than pets.
But the fact remains that a very dear member of our family is missing, and the likelihood that we'll ever see him again grows considerably slimmer by the hour. I got Phillip 10 years ago in Nashville. I adopted him and his brother, Terrence, from a woman who had raised them for their first year but could no longer keep them. I paid $100 for their 1-year shots, signed the papers and left that vet's office with two great cats. We spent a few days trying to come up with names for our new cats, and we finally settled on Terrence and Phillip. We gleaned the idea from the TV show South Park, the offensive and controversial adult cartoon that had just been launched on Comedy Central within the last year or so. Terrence and Phillip were the gassy twin bobble-headed Canadians on the show who became pop-culture icons, if only for a short period of time, due to their slap-sticky and crass brand of humor and music. If nothing else, the choice of names imparted a little personality to two otherwise un-interesting and low maintenance cats. And it gave them permanence in the family.
The cats moved with me to Miami for my short stint there and then made the long journey to Charlotte when I moved here in 2002. Two small apartments in a row proved to be too much for Terrence to handle, as he escaped from captivity later that year and was never seen again. We replaced Phillip's companion as best we could a couple of times, with the most recent addition to the family being a mom and daughter pair given to us by a good friend. The three have seemed happy together, with each having a distinct role in their relationships with each other, as well as having very happy niches among the humans. Girl, the mommy cat, is my little attention whore. Every time my lap appears, she's clammoring for a seat on it. And she isn't shy about it, either. She would routinely shove Phillip out of the way if she wanted some lovin'. Cheeks, the "baby", has always been shy. Her human companion of choice is Avery, which is not a surprise at all given her generally gentle nature. Avery's content to see but not touch the cats, and that's just how Cheeks prefers it.
And as much as I hate to admit it, Phillip was a Mama's boy. As much history and connection as I had with him, he always had a soft spot in his heart for Mandi. When she was pregnant with Lily, Phillip would eschew his normal spot on my side of the bed at night for his post near her belly. As though he could sense the growing baby inside, he'd curl up next to Mandi to offer his warmth and protection. He was a part of our family in so many ways that it's hard to imagine what it'll be like around here without him. Lily has gone with me on a few outings to look around the neighborhood for him. Last night before bed she asked me "Where'd Phillip go Daddy? He ran away?" I told her we'd look again in the morning. When she got up this morning, the first thing she told me after our good morning hug was "I dream about Phillip Daddy." I'd be lying to you if I said that didn't bring a few tears to my eyes.
So we'll go out again today and look, maybe hand out a few more flyers, and try again to delay finality.