Those of you who don’t own animals won’t understanding our grief. You’ll think, “Come on, it was just a cat.” You might even suggest that we replace her since so many other cats need a home, which is true. If you know us well, you’ll recognize our anguish, and know we need time to grieve.
Zoe wasn’t just a cat. She had been a constant companion for fifteen years. When I began writing novels, Zoe would jump up on my desk and walk back and forth, brushing under my nose. She refused to stay away, driving me crazy. Finally, I bought a soft oval bed for her and set it next to my computer. She immediately curled up and went to sleep. When I had difficulty constructing a scene and erased more words than I kept, she’d sometimes reach over with her paw and place it on my right hand, watching me with her Apple Green eyes. I’d take a break to pet her, and often a fresh idea would surface. Anthropomorphic? Maybe, but I’ve written two books with her help.
Zoe loved people. When guests visited our home, she rarely hid. Instead, she’d brazenly sniff legs, rub against purses, climb into gift bags and jump in laps. My granddaughters, Collette and Sierra, loved dangling toys in front of her, watching her roll on her back and relentlessly swipe away. Zoe disliked riding in cars. When we moved from Southern to Northern California, I shared her company for eight hours, and she meowed the entire time. For her, a cat carrier plus a car ride equaled going to the vet. Veterinarians were the only people Zoe didn’t like, but they sure took good care of her.
Zoe was an indoor-only cat. One summer day, I couldn’t find her anywhere until I walked outside and spotted a black and white runaway rolling in the garden. I chased her back into the house, wondering how she'd escaped. The next day, I glanced up from a book and watched Zoe press her nose against the retractable screen door and crawl under it toward freedom. Once outside, she glanced back and, I swear, she smirked at me. We bought one of those wooden toddler gates so she couldn’t get out again, but I marveled at her ingenuity.
I could go on and on, but there’s no need. Those of you who love your pets, know what I’m feeling and don’t need me to tell you about my loss. The danger in loving so deeply, human or otherwise, is that when the end comes, one must cope with an indescribable aching hollowness.
A light has gone out for Andy and me, but we’re so grateful to have been blessed with many years of Zoe’s energy and spunk. It was difficult to watch her chest rise and fall for the last time, but we made the right decision. She’s at peace now, and we are the ones who are suffering.