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On Losing Ziggy–One Year Later

December 17, 2017 was one of the worst days of my life. That day, the decision that had to be made, that was made, it rocked my world completely. It still hurts and haunts me. (35 words and I’m already in tears while I write!)

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That afternoon, shortly after 4pm, I had to say my final goodbye to this incredibly special, precious kitty.

I shared about his "secret origins" within my life last year.

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Ziggy and Chloe started out with a confrontational relationship. She would hiss fiercely at him any time she saw him…to the point that I would see him peeking around corners cautiously, and once chuckled as it occurred to me that he must be thinking "Where is she? She’s not with you? I’m so freaking tired of being HISSED at when I walk into a room!"

Eventually–across the half a decade or so they were together–they got to where they would eat out of the same bowl simultaneously…and there was no fighting, hissing, etc. Put the food down and both faces went in, chowing down!

And the way they’d PLAY…

Several times, I noticed Ziggy walk calmly past Chloe (who’d be laying somewhere minding her own business) and stop…then slowly step backwards over/onto her, and then meow pitifully as if she’d grabbed HIM on his way by!

And there’d be the jingle of Chloe’s collar/bell, and I’d look over, and they’d be wrestling silently–neither growling or hissing or such, just wrestling as cats do (both were "fixed" before ever coming into my life).

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I kept an extra water bowl in the basement for Ziggy..he always loved spending time down there, and often got treats from me. Plus, for much of his final 16 months, I slept down there, and though he wasn’t much for snuggling, I’d often find him on the bed or next to it (in a nest of blankets).

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And along with Chloe (and now Sarah), he was always curious about my comics and such when I’d lay them out to get photos for my Weekly Haul posts.

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Or whatever was handy.

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Many, many times, I’ve found myself considering my grief. What I’ve felt, the way I’ve felt it, the loss I’ve experienced, the ongoing hurt, the "need" to post photos on my Facebook every week (far too many of which are photos that never got posted before losing him).

And I’ve come across several articles in the past year that tackle this very topic–why do we grieve so hard for our pets? Why is it sometimes HARDER than losing friends, family–loved ones?

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I’ve a lotta thoughts, and as I try to type, realize they’re not gonna make it into this post. I’m already all over the place and outta focus.

Maybe it’s where I’m at, me, myself, in life. What my life is, who I am; the way my life in certain things is far different from virtually everyone else around me.

Maybe it’s that at least with parents, family, friends, we can talk and understand each other by our words, by abstracts and ideas.

Maybe it’s that Ziggy was SUCH a huge part of my life, that I so often looked forward to seeing. Parents, I could talk to on the phone. Though he was supposed to be Dad’s cat, he was "my" cat, and from September 7, 2010 until mid-July 2016, I "only" got to be around him weekends that I’d be in visiting.

And then, July 2016 until December 7, 2017…excepting less than half a dozen Saturdays when I was "out of town" for weekends with friends, Ziggy was a DAILY part of my life.

Chloe, too, and I’m more thankful than I can say, that I still have her…though I’ve become more fiercely protective of and anxious over her since losing Ziggy.

And even with Sarah coming into my life–waaayyy too early for ME to have been "ready," after losing Zig…but I could at least give her a home. The heartache and loss I feel over Ziggy in no way means I’m ungrateful for Chloe and Sarah…but while I pray I have numerous YEARS (plural!!!) with both of them…the fact is, the shock and heartbreak of actually losing Ziggy has been with me every day since.

Even WHILE I treasure and cherish every moment I get with Chloe and Sarah.

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I can look at photos of Ziggy without breaking down. I can’t dwell on having lost him, though, or I do still break down. I can and do remember him with all the memories across 7 years I had the privilege of knowing him.

I can usually talk about him, remember him, mention him, without breaking down.

But there’s been a part of me that is just missing since losing him…somehow perhaps the shock, and the relatively short time I got to spend with him. Over 18 years with Kayla; 13 1/2 with Christy. "Only" 7 with Ziggy.

And as I completely lose my focus and repetition abounds…my mind grasps onto language from a favorite poem…one which has stuck with me quite often in the last year.

Of trying to explain a loss to someone: "Though I told him about / Stars and twilight, and how autumn leaves must fall, / I could not make myself understand." And of recognizing what one HAS even as they remember the loss. "For though / My life moves on . . . / my thoughts still find you, old friend. / And though you would scowl to hear me tell of it, / And stomp and scoff, I cannot hide this plain truth: / I still need you . . ."

So much more.

It’s been a year.

One Year Later, and I may have been forced to live this year in a world without Ziggy; been forced to adjust to and accept the fact OF his absence. But it still hurts. I still miss him.

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Secret Origins: Ziggy

It was a late August day back in 2010, Dad left a voicemail on my cell. A bit cryptic–simply telling me to call him. As my aunt was in the hospital for something, I immediately feared the worst, and called in a panic…only to find out it wasn’t anything urgent.

Dad had been online and came across a Craigslist listing for a cat at a nearby shelter, and Mom had insisted that he needed my blessing before there’d be any consideration of getting this cat, as I was in visiting often, and it’d only been a few months since we’d lost Kayla after having her over 18 years.

I found the listing Dad had seen, and immediately approved.

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The shelter had him tagged as "Sigmund." I’d planned to add "Dewey" to that, both for the library-cat and figuring it would sound quite distinguished. Sigmund Dewey.

The shelter had posted the listing too early, so Dad had to wait a few days–they had to allow time for notification any potential owners to come in and reclaim him. During that time, I recall posting in a blog at cxPulp that whether he knew it or not, this was a lucky little cat–because though he was in a shelter for the then-moment, he either had a family that would reclaim him…or he already had a family that wanted him.

And as things went, on September 7th, 2010, Dad went in. As he’s told me, he walked into the place, and even with the other cats meowing and reaching out and clamoring for attention–Dad only had eyes for Sigmund.

…Sigmund, who huddled in the back of the cage and wanted nothing to do with anyone, let alone being pulled out of the cage. But Dad got him out, and that day, he brought this cat into my life.

My conscious plan was to "tolerate" this cat, to "put up with" its presence…I wouldn’t be mean or anything, but I’d be indifferent–he was gonna be Dad’s cat.

That evening after work, I drove the hour in to meet this cat. Such a significant thing, adopting anyone new into your life–and I had to see this cat for myself.

One look at him and I got down on the floor to get his attention. He wasn’t sure of me at first, but then came over to check me out, and allowed me to touch him. (And for the rest of his life, "our thing" was that I was the one that would get down on the floor with him, so he almost never would hop up onto me).

While we were talking, the matter of his name came up, and Mom had a slip of the tongue, clearly saying Ziggy where Dad was calling him Siggy (for Sigmund).

The cat looked RIGHT at her, and we realized in that moment that THAT was his name.

He was Ziggy.

And he got several "pet names" or nicknames. In my own recollection, I most think of "Little Buddy" from Dad, as he’d call Ziggy or get his attention. (And that he was, he was Dad’s little buddy!). To me, he was "Handsome Cat" (cuz I thought Handsome more fitting than Pretty or Beautiful, though those absolutely fit as well). And to everyone, he was also just Zig, or Zig-Zig, or such. But Ziggy was what his "full name" has always been, at least to me. Just like I’m Walter, but go by Walt. He was Ziggy, though he’d go by others as well.

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The first photo above is the photo from the original listing, the very first photo I ever saw of him, the very first, period, that I ever saw OF him.

And just above, him resting on Mom, is the final photo I have of him.

The very earliest photo I have of him. And the very last.

Dad brought him into my life on September 7, 2010. And I had to say goodbye to this sweetest, gentlest cat I have ever known, on December 7, 2017.

And in between these photos?

I have THOUSANDS more. It takes all I have right now to hold it together just handling these two photos right now. I’ve shared hundreds, maybe thousands of photos of him before–on Facebook, in messages to friends, occasionally in this very blog.

And I know I will share even more yet, as I somehow learn to live in a world without this precious little cat. I can’t begin to find the proper words, in the proper order and quantity, to feel I’m doing the little guy justice. And as I break down now typing this, I can only say that this is far from the last I’ll have to share of him. But though he’s at peace now…

It is us, those left behind–Me, Dad, Mom, our other cat Chloe, friends and family who knew him–that suffer. Hurt. Have to pick up the pieces of broken hearts.

And me?

Absolutely nothing in my life before this has ever hurt so much, or affected me as this has.

Ziggy Kneeland.

Sigmund Dewey.

Little Buddy.

Handsome Cat.

Zig.

Zig-Zig.

This quiet, gentlest of spirits…

So very, VERY loved, and missed more terribly than words alone can ever begin to describe.

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Booster Gold #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Excellent!
Story Title: 52 Pick-Up, chapter 1: Secret Origins

Booster Gold finds that despite saving the multi-verse, Time is still broken, and it’s up to him to save it–in a rather surprising way.

boostergold001Written by: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Layouts by: Dan Jurgens
Finishes by: Norm Rapmund
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover by: Dan Jurgens
Variant cover by: Art Adams
Special Thanks to: "Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid…but definitely not Keith Giffen!"
Booster Gold created by: Dan Jurgens
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue rocks! It presses a lotta my fan buttons, and is one of very few issues of late that I put down and probably had some silly grin on my face, having just simply enjoyed it that much.

We pick up with Booster Gold a couple months after the events of 52, as he’s working to make it big again and get a shot at joining the current Justice League…even though none of it’s quite the same without his best buddy Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) around. Unfortunately for the would-be hero, other forces–and people–are at work in the timestream, and Booster finds himself drawn back into facing a crisis that threatens to keep him from his public and rise to genuine fame.
Throughout, we get a number of great character moments and interactions that speak to the potential of coming issues and stories, even as they add to the depth of this very story.

The story here seems really solid to me–and if there was a lack of solidity, it didn’t stand out to me. This issue–and series–builds on the events of 52 and takes up some dangling threads to start tying stuff up in one way or another. Booster is written in such a way that he’s not only true to classic/iconic form, but is also given some actual growth, leaving plenty of room for continuing growth as a character, without ditching or disrespecting the past.

We get a lot of what makes a great first issue for a new title: exposition/flashback to catch the reader up or introduce new readers to the state of affairs; prominent use of the title character; introduction of new and old characters for supporting cast; guest-stars to show what it is that makes this character stand on his own; a plausible story that builds on existing continuity without being bogged down; and several bits of foreshadowing and outright teases of what’s to come, that fit right into the context of the story without feeling forced.

The strength of continuity and the feel of the main character himself certainly must come partly from the fact that Johns was one of Booster’s writers from his last adventure.

Visually, the cover stands out immediately, with a fun, iconic sort of picture–and though I hadn’t realized it when I first noticed it and thought about what a cool image it was–the standard cover is by Dan Jurgens, who has had a certain place in Booster Gold history.

The general artwork in the issue is also very good…it captures the sheer fun-ness and energy of things. It’s not the most hyper-detailed, nor is it overly simplified…it clearly shows who’s doing what where and when, gets across what’s going on, and as a whole does a great job of doing what the art in a comic is supposed to do.

While this issue’s story, and perhaps very existence spring directly from 52, you need not have read that story to understand what’s going on here–and the details from 52 that do matter are recapped in the flow of this issue’s story. Though this looks to have elements drawn from all parts of the DC multiverse, and the ability to touch any and all titles that are part of the main stable of DC books, this issue feels very nicely self-contained, and a decent jumping-in point even if you’re not familiar with the DCU.

Taken as a whole, this issue is one of the single most enjoyable reads I’ve had all year, and I definitely recommend it–especially if you’re a fan of the character, of 52, or of the "new" multiverse.

Ratings:

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

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