It’s been exactly 30 days since Buddy died in my arms. As is hopefully understandable, it’s been really hard. He’d truly become a part of my family and his sudden absence has been really painful. So many things that I hadn’t expected to do so now trigger memories. Even simply returning home. When I’d come home, he’d usually come trotting over to greet me when I called. I now catch myself announcing my presence when I get home from work, shopping, wherever. I’d routinely do that and now have to consciously remember not to.
No one greets me anymore.
It took a couple weeks before I could sit on the couch where he and I used to share “our time.”
Then I read a single line from a book about pet death that made me start thinking about the sad memory when he died. The book is a poem from the animal’s perspective. This isn’t a recommendation for the book, though it’s gotten generally good reviews. The single line I saw made me think about what Buddy would have wanted me to remember, were he human.
See, Buddy wasn’t a taciturn cat; he wasn’t cold and aloof. He was a happy, friendly (if more than somewhat neurotic) cat. I honestly think that if he knew I was upset about his dying he’d be upset. Because his life wasn’t about anything than making others (and himself) happy.
He was happy to have found a home after he’d been abandoned. The joy in his eyes as he stalked the place was unmistakable. He actually liked his collar. I think that, to him, it meant he belonged again. Somebody cared enough to say ‘he’s loved and has a home.’ He really did too.
Never before have I had a cat that liked the collar. My previous two cats both bucked and pitched a fuss when I tried to put one on them. Cecil, my old tuxedo cat, as a matter of fact, tried so hard to get it off, he almost choked himself when he got his lower jaw underneath the collar and pulled at it.
Buddy loved his collar. When I took it off once to comb him and didn’t put it on right away, he sulked. I’m not kidding: he pouted and wouldn’t sit on me. When I put it back on him, he rubbed my arm and stomach and curled up on my lap and went to sleep.
Rather than focus on his last day, I now try to remember those things. I’m also trying to think about how he’d stretch his head to meet my hand when I went to pet him. He’d close his eyes and let me pet him, putting his head in my hand. How he’d come when I made a certain sound, kind of a nick-nick sound when I clicked my tongue against my palate. Or, if he was sitting in my lap, he’d curl his paw and/or knead me when making the same sound. It was our sound, our sign to one another. It comforted and reassured him and let him know it was all okay.
Another simple, pleasant memory is how he’d strut the place, with his tail straight up and seemingly smiling. That was his normal demeanor: head erect, tail straight up. Those who have cats know that means ‘I’m happy.’ That was his typical state.
He was so happy, full of joy. That’s how he’d want me to remember him.
So while I’m sad at his passing, and not at all ready for taking on another cat (though Monkey is trying to worm his way in), I’m slowly moving away from the sad memories and on to the happier ones.
Because that’s what he’d want.
Again, my dear friend, thank you.