+Job 12:7-10 But ask the animals, and they will teach you… In God’s hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all humankind.
My dearest Oliver,
We said goodbye to you this afternoon.
My heart is broken.
You were a witness to my adulthood, my prayer partner and my confidant.
You were a soft, gentle, warm spot in my life.
We met when I was 22 years old.
I had just moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts for graduate school and I was anxious. One night I had a dream that a cat jumped up on the foot of my bed, rested on my chest and I was finally able to sleep. The very next day I adopted you. I remember calling my roommate on the drive home, you in my lap, asking “how do you feel about cats?“
The shelter grilled me the day I brought you home. They told me “this is a 20 year commitment.” And I still resent it. 14 years feels too short when they promised me 20… though I would never be prepared to say goodbye.
You were a source of comfort. I’ve cried so many tears into your fur, holding you at the end of long days, and in the midst of stressful times.
You were my first family member to meet Andrew, and you liked him. Your endorsement meant everything. You let him hold you and you would purr when he came around, I knew he was a keeper.
In 2010, three weeks into my first ministry calling, the vet diagnosed you with cancer and said we had three months. We took extreme measures, far more than the average cat mom would do, I’m sure. We amputated your back right leg and put you through chemo. Everyone thought we were crazy, they probably still do. But that bought you eight more years with us. It was worth every penny.
You met my children. You allowed Felix to explore your fur and tug at your ears. Bless you. You were always so patient. You let Zora squeal with delight as she watched you. You forgave us for displacing you when a bassinet came into our bedroom, and when our attention turned to the care and feeding of our babies. Thank you.
Letting you go has been excruciating. We were told in February that you had acute kidney failure, and that we should prepare to say goodbye within weeks. For the last six months we administered subcutaneous fluids to you, sometimes twice a day. Everyone told us we would know when it was time to say goodbye. But Oliver, I never knew. Today feels like the worst day.
For your companionship, loyalty, your spirit of calm, your non-anxious presence, and most of all-for the strength you gave me: thank you.
You taught me how to love. You opened my heart. I will remember you always, you handsome fellow.
It’s an honor to love a pet like you. It reminds us that unconditional love is possible. Pets teach us that it is worthy and right to care for those who are smaller than us, who depend on us. You help us make room for the tender, soft, warm things of the world.
I believe that all of God’s creatures have a place in the choir. So I picture you on percussion, purring to the rhythm of God’s heart, and tapping your tail to the music of the heavenly hosts… waiting for the day we will be reunited. I promise you eternal snuggles when I find you again.
Rest well, my love.