A Somber Celebration

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It’s a somber night in the house of Goose, and yet…

Well, tonight is a tough night. The cat my parents have had since I was 17 is not long for this world. He’s a beautiful shelter cat who was eight when my parents got him, and is now the ripe old age of 25. What cat lives to be 25?? This one, evidently, and his name is Loial.

Loial is no longer the strong specimen you see in the photo above. In the last few weeks, he’s lost most of his body weight, and in the last several days, he’s stopped cleaning himself. Today, he decided he’s done eating and drinking, and I imagine it won’t be long before he’s eating the new catfood at the banquet table in Glory.

I love this cat, and because I love him, I’m ready for him to go. Well, mostly ready. It’s always hard to say goodbye.

The hardest part of this, though, is that the Goose is very attached to Loial. He’s been very good to her, allowing her to put things on his back (blankets, aprons, Peter Francis) with minimal protest. Nothing seems to delight her as much as when Peter Francis Giraffee is riding on Loial’s back around the kitchen.

The Goose was recently sick with a flu, and ever since, she’s been especially sensitive to the word “sick”. This has left a predicament in how to explain Loial’s decline. I don’t want her to think that “sick” means “go away forever”, but she’s not old enough to understand what the words “Loial is leaving forever” mean. 

One day, she’ll understand, and that future understanding breaks my heart for her today.

But you know what, Goose? Let’s remember the good times with Loial and your apron. Or Loial and Peter Francis.

I remember when I found out we had Loial. When I was in high school, my parents and I had had a cat named Jake for about a year, but Jake succumbed to a bladder disorder and had to be put down, and it broke my heart. Two months later, on Valentine’s day, my brother and I were in the kitchen with my mom when I heard the strangest sound. “Meow!” I looked at my mom and asked what that noise was, and once the cat was out of the bag (so to speak), she couldn’t keep the secret any longer. They had a beautiful Siamese mix hidden out of the way in a kitty carrier. Love was kindled on that Valentine’s day seventeen years ago.

Love is rekindled this year, albeit in a more somber fashion. Memories make the past and the present all that much closer to the heart.

Another memory! Loial and I used to play a game together, where he’d be on the stairs and I’d peek around the corner and stare at him. Then I’d jump back around the corner and hide. When I’d peek again, he’d be a little closer, and very interested. We’d go back and forth, and sometimes he’d jump out and scare me, and sometimes I’d do the jumping. Once in particular, he’d gotten close to the bottom of the stairs, and I jumped around and shouted at him. All part of the game! Poor cat ran straight up the stairs, turned a hard left STRAIGHT INTO THE WALL, bounced off, and ran around the corner. Poor cat! But I still laugh about the look on his face. 

A final fun memory. I was standing in the kitchen when something small and brown whizzed past me, followed by the gray blur of Loial. They ran up the stairs, and when I got there, he’d cornered a chipmunk that had gotten into the house somehow. Poor chipmunk fainted dead away, and I took him outside where he revived and scampered off.

Goose, hold on to good memories. They’re some of the things that remind you that even though life ends, it’s worth living.

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4 thoughts on “A Somber Celebration

  1. I’m so sorry. Pets like that become family. I cried and laughed at this post (especially the part about running into the wall). I’m cuddling my puppies now and I don’t want to imagine the day when I recount memories of them instead of kissing them. I hope Gwennie is okay too.

    • Thank you so much, Amy. It’s devastatingly hard, and yet the memories are such special gifts that I know will be here much longer. I’ll be able to tell stories about the cat who stood on his hind legs just to be petted, the cat who would sit on the floor with me and my friends during the first Bible study group I lead after becoming a Christian, the cat who would listen to my teen angst without judgment. The unconditional love of God is shown so well in the affection of a pet, and that is the memory that points Home, and why all pets are special.

  2. They really do become part of the family. I still haven’t confessed to my older kids that the cat they found …um…had gone to kitty heaven one day when they got home from school….well, we really had him put to sleep and brought him home for them to find. I couldn’t bear to tell my then young kiddos that we were going to kill the cat. (Well, that’s how they would have seen it.) So, if you’re reading this and you know my kids…keep my secret–please!

    Dave, Gwennie is young and it will be hard for her to see her friend go. Heck, I can hear from your post that it won’t be easy for you, either. And maybe that’s part of the key–letting her know that you’re sad, too, and it’s ok. It’s just one of the many things we’d like to shelter them from, but can’t.

    • The point, which I was getting to and failed to make, is that we don’t always have to TELL them everything or even prepare them for everything. (Cause we can’t prepare them for everything!) Sometimes we just demonstrate.

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