We saw the signs a mile away; that sweet, scrawny soul, found first abandoned in a forlorn corner of some crowded closet, with a fate written in helixes. The latest litter from our organic feline factory, which had reliably produced quality kittens for far too long, included in it a perfectly defective model. They say there’s a runt in every litter, but that is not the case. There will be a smallest, of course, as there must be. But a true runt is a special something, for once in a deep blue moon. If it manages to develop, it does so slowly, barely. Begrudgingly. As if each spurt is a Herculean labor all on its own.
And you, Piggly, with your pink snub snout and two carefully crafted black spots placed just above your nostrils proper, in conspicuous swine facsimile, were no different. A pitiful statue, anchored by apathy to your perch; you would not stir, you would not eat, you would not run or play or fight. You sat, and stared, and waited with unnatural patience.
We forced milk down your throat with a blunt syringe, in some crude attempt to sustain you for longer than intended. And it was with that which you passed, drowning in my arms. Too full the milk of human kindness. I held you for some short millennia, not certain of what to do, or how to move, as if to set you down was to kill you once more. So I did not let go. But the funeral procession would proceed; you were wrapped in fine paper sheets, and laid in a sturdy cardboard coffin, as I set about piercing the tense October soil.
Most people envision the Reaper as one of our own; a man, clad in black, jagged scythe abreast, pale and smooth and crisp all over. But I have seen him, the Angel of Death. Squat and marsupial, four-legged and warm-blooded. There he was, frozen on the backyard porch, stubbornly playing dead under a stage light. Though uninvited to our funeral, that ragged possum had reserved his spot long ago.
So we took break from our melancholy, to throw sticks and stones towards the beast, to scare him away, so that Piggly might rest in peace. The possum did not falter. We dug a little deeper, but I do not think it helped. I do not think there is any depth to which that varmint would not sink, to lay his claws upon you. And I am sorry that we could not stop him.