Earlier this year, I struggled with the decision to return my adopted cat Morpheus to the SPCA. He had a very complicated immune disorder that led to problems from teeth to tail. After thousands of dollars and monthly vet appointments, my 18-month-old boy kept getting worse and worse. If I kept him, I knew I was going to have to put him down sooner rather than later. Instead, I gave up and took him back.
It helped that the intake clerk was amazed by the stack of vet paperwork I brought with me. The vet was impressed by the sack of medicine I dragged along. They accepted that I was making the right decision for my poor sick boy, but I still cried all through filling out all the paperwork. What was his favorite toy? Did he sleep on the bed? All their very reasonable questions were too painful.
Afterward, in the midst of my second-guessing and grief, an artist named Monica Bodirsky reached out to me. She wanted to make a shrine to Morpheus. She asked me to send her some of his favorite toys (milk rings). I also sent a couple of his whiskers.
The beautiful shrine came in yesterday’s mail. Inside an antique cigar box stands a soft paste porcelain cat (dug up from a factory in Germany c. 1890, she says). A 1920s salt shaker urn holds one of his catnip mice and the milk rings. A perfume bottle (found on a beach) holds his whiskers. The back is papered with a vintage map of California.
I can’t begin to tell you how touched I am by this. One of the hardest parts of giving Morpheus up was that I had no focus for my grief. When my last cat died, I put his ashes in an antique silver sugar bowl. Morpheus left nothing behind but a hole.
Updated September 2021: Unfortunately, Monica’s website seems to be gone. It’s too bad. She made lovely, very moving assemblages.