I held you in my arms last night as you struggled to breath, your body weakening as you prepared to let go. Tears were falling, but I tried not to spend our last few hours sobbing. Instead, we put in a movie and cuddled on the couch in your favorite throw, laughing at our favorite scenes. I held you like I’ve done so many evenings, just cuddled in on the couch for a quiet night.
I thought about all of our moments, good and bad. I remembered the first time I saw you at that animal rescue. I had spent hours looking for a new friend to replace my sweet black cat who had died too young. I pet cat after cat, my husband trying to selling me on a kitten. Then, you crawled out, all seventeen pounds of you, and I knew you were it.
My husband tried to convince me you were too old to adopt at thirteen, that you wouldn’t live long. He was looking out for my heart, knew I shouldn’t have to go through a loss again potentially soon. It was sealed, though. One look at you, and I knew you were meant to be mine. You’d recently lost your home because your elderly owner had been sent to a nursing home. We brought you home and settled you in.
It took you a while to trust us. You were scared and hid for weeks. I thought maybe I’d made a mistake, that you wouldn’t be the cat to soothe my already cracked heart. But slowly, the weeks passed by and you started coming around. Before too long, you were cuddling with me on the couch, watching Netflix. You were claiming a favorite spot in the kitchen on our coffee cup mat by the fridge. You were meowing every day I came home and trudging up the steps at bedtime to cuddle. You were through happy days and sad days, for holidays and parties. You were there waiting for cupcakes, your favorite snack—just like Henry. You were cuddling with our other kittens even though you preferred to sleep on the couch alone. You were sweet and loving, an innocent, unconditional love always in your eyes.
Last night, I thought about the not so great moments, too. The moments when I was so busy with the ins and outs of life that I didn’t stop to pet you, to give you a treat, or to spend time with you. I think about all the rushing around and the making plans when I should’ve been on the couch with you. I think about how in the last week I took so much for granted, thought you’d be here forever. Even in that regret, though, I see the beauty of you. I see how you reminded me how fragile life is, how we can never take a moment for granted. I will carry that lesson with me.
I put you in your cat bed last night and with tears streaming down my cheeks, I said good-bye. This morning, you were wheezing, barely breathing, so we had to make the worst decision ever. We had to help you along to the other side, had to take you to the vet for one final car ride. The whole way there, you just laid in my arms, breathing your final breaths. I thought about everything I’m going to miss about you. I thought about the huge hole in my heart from the seventeen-pounds of black fur that won’t be here to greet me anymore. I thought about all the memories we won’t make.
But I also thought about all the memories we did make. I thought about how for the past two and a half years, you helped us make our house a home, our group of random animals a family. I thought about how now, you’ll get to the other side, how maybe your previous owner is waiting for you. I thought about how lucky I was to get you for a small piece of your life and a small piece of mine.
I thought about how now you’re running free, eating cupcake after cupcake and chasing birds and sleeping on a kitchen rug just like ours. I thought about how hopefully, years and years from now, you’ll save a cupcake for me and we’ll get to do our favorite thing—just be together.
I will miss you forever, Bob. Thank you for reminding me that life isn’t about money or crazy social lives or fame. It’s about being content with what you have, about being grateful for those in your life, and for never taking for granted a simple night on a sofa with the ones who matter most.