Callisto Boeving was euthanized around this time last year in Ypsilanti, Michigan, soon after doctors at the Small Animal Clinic at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University found an inoperable tumor spreading from his inner ear to his oral pallet. He’d stopped eating. He’d stopped drinking and purring. He’d stopped grooming and began to isolate himself, sleeping all day on a pillow in the dark, wrapped tight like an acorn. He was eight years old.
Callisto is survived by David and Katie Boeving, who adopted Callisto and his companion, Titan, in June 2015. Previously, Titan and Callisto had lived with and been cared for by a family friend, Victoria Pozyczka, who softly and sweetly pressured David and Katie to keep Titan and Callisto together.
Little is known about Callisto’s early life, but he lived until his untimely death with David and Katie and Titan. At night, on the soft couch top, Callisto would lay behind David, who would lay his tired skull into a familiar purr. In the morning, Callisto would throw his head back to meow something like hello at Katie from the hardwood. Callisto would mutate in place—a jelly—whenever Titan came to lay near to cuddle.
Contributions in memory of Callisto may be made to the Humane Society of Huron Valley, a Maddie’s Fund-defined “no-kill” shelter, 3100 Cherry Hill Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48105.
Funeral drinking took place January 5, 2018 at The Tap Room in Ypsilanti. A funeral service, even now, has yet to be held.
Since Meg suggested it sometime last year, I’ve tried to write this and failed. Dodging clichés, tripping on the exposed roots of genre, I searched for a sample, copied and pasted it here, then crossed it out and left it. Today, I’m like a child returning to a clearing they’d forgotten. The trees are covered in frost and light and I’m wedged between dense forests, trying again to make sense of this, accompanied only by our last pictures together and some canned beer.
Callisto’s birth is occulted from me. Where he was born, when he was born, whether his siblings survived or died or where they are today, whether he was a loud or quiet kitten, whether he ever walked carefully through the grass alone, one leg after the other stepping high, prowling, I don’t know. I don’t know if Callisto saw color or dreamt, cried or got cold, liked music, felt alone or bored, heard better or worse than a dog, understood mirrors, death, time, or why we pet him. I don’t know if Callisto knew or understood his name. I don’t know if Callisto loved me.
Still I loved Callisto, his goofy fangs and tiny face, the effort it took him to meow, how easily he’d fall over when nudged. I loved how I could spin him around on his side, how he’d run away and come right back. I loved how he’d watch Titan chase a red laser bead across the hardwood and carpet, and how he’d watch birds eat seed on TV. I love that he swatted a bird once and stuck his nail between the screen and frame. I love that—after so many days of refusing food and water, after so many days of refusing to clean himself—he rose from the crate we’d lined with blankets, leaving behind streaks of shit and piss, and walked cautiously to lay under the sun warming the living room carpet one last time.
I don’t know if Titan loved him—how could I?—or if he loved Titan, but I know that, being the younger of two, Callisto always found in Titan, for better or worse, a companion. When they weren’t snuggling, Titan’d chase him between the kitchen chairs and across the living room cushions. In pictures, they lay on top of one another. Those beds, only large enough for one, now exist only in those pictures, and there’s fewer pictures of them together the closer the dates crawl toward Callisto’s final vet trip.
One day, we carried and set Titan beside Callisto, hoping he’d begin to lick his brother clean—as if to reanimate the lethargic thing that had taken Callisto’s place—or at least he might climb in and lay over his brother again. But Titan walked swiftly away, as if the nest we’d made for Callisto housed some monstrous creature, as if to Titan, Callisto was a stranger or ghost already, like the paragraphs of this I’ve excised, the language like bodies constantly growing stale, the language, like Callisto’s mutations, exceeding the body, seeping into the air. But at first it was all so normal, flesh and fur, medium and species, everything that haunts this and repelled Titan, air, lungs, sleep.
Toward the end of his life, Callisto begin to snore. We thought it was cute, and told our friends and vet. On December 24, 2017, I preserved the sound, trapped it in a glass jar and closed the lid tightly. Yesterday, I unlocked it with a swipe and pressed my ear close, listening to the first few seconds. Air moves in or out like a tiny scream, particles passing through a shrunken flooded ridge, like polite cries for help. If we listen closely, can we hear the tumor?
Callisto was adored by his friends and chosen family, kept company by his brother, and it is a testament to his character how many of you I imagine might put up with me reading this so long after his passing. Though his life and our time with him were far too brief, the particles from that flash in history, crashing into each other, continue to stir. While we once walked together down a flat straight path, I find myself now without direction, stopping every once and awhile to look back at what’s curved and mountainous. To have lost Callisto is to have lost myself. The path was never straight, never flat. We must keep moving.