In Memory of Oliver
It’s been four months, so I think I can write about it now. Our beloved barn cat Oliver, the inspiration for my children’s picture book, The Perfect Nest, died in the middle of June. He had a sudden heart ‘event’ (saddle thrombosis), was paralyzed, frightened, and in great pain, so once we got him to the emergency vet and learned the prognosis, we had no choice. The only good thing is that the whole thing happened in our yard, in front of us. I shudder to think how he’d have suffered had this happened out in the pasture or woods, where we may have never found him.
Melissa and I were inconsolable for days. Pumpkin, the other barn cat, suddenly became needy and clingy. Fall loomed, with winter close on its heels. What would Pumpkin do for companionship and warmth now? (We’re allergic to cats, so no cats in the house, I’m afraid.)
After a few months, we realized we needed to find someone for Pumpkin, so Melissa started calling around. We didn’t want wild barn cats. We wanted tame ones. She found two kittens, raised by a woman who tames most of her 15-20 barn cats.
The first six weeks were rough, since Pumpkin wanted nothing to do with these little pip squeaks. Luckily he’s come around, and now Uncle Pumpkin has even been seen playing with them. (He’ll deny it, however, so please don’t mention it to him.)
Eddie and Maisie are adorable, of course, and Eddie is proving to be the hunter that Oliver was. We’ve made a cozy ‘fort’ of hay bales in the hay loft where the three of them will keep each other toasty warm all winter.
Losing a cat is small potatoes compared to losing a spouse or close friend or sibling or child, yet the loss of an animal still becomes part of a person’s history of grief. As painful as it is to lose a pet, most of us get another one.
I guess the joy of having them in our lives must outweigh the pain of losing them.