Over the last couple of days, I have been following the goings on of Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, as he and his loved ones go through the illness and subsequent death of their cat Zoe. We had just gotten back from a work related trip to Austin when I was going through all of the rss reader stuff that I had missed while we were gone. So, when I was first reading about the tumor that had been found in her throat that was preventing her from eating or drinking, I was lying on the couch with Elliot at my feet and Molly was sitting in between me and the screen, trying to keep me from reading the sad tale. As I read about the little cat and the effect that she had on many different people, tears stung my eyes. I hugged my girls and shared some of what had been written to Aaron. (He wasn’t happy about it. “Thanks for the downer…”) For the rest of the evening, I felt a little sad, but since we had been away both of the cats were really needy and I was more than happy to give them all the cuddles and scratches they could want.
To all the non animal people, it may seem strange to share in the grief of someone else over the loss of a pet, but it takes me to the place where I will someday have to say goodbye to my own sweet kitties. What, I think, was the most striking about this situation was all the different people that loved Zoe. As Neil put it:
“And I’m wondering what it is about this small blind cat that inspires such behaviour — mine, Olga’s, Lorraine’s…. I’ve had cats in this house for 18 years, and there are cat-graves down by gazebo. Two cats died of old age last year. It wasn’t like this.
I’m sorry for being all sentimental… I don’t know what else to say, except that we shouldn’t take love for granted. Be it person or animal, treasure the ones you love while they are here and treasure their memories when they go. They are not ours to keep and we should treat them like they’ll be here forever. Go hug your mom. Go play with your dog. Smile at random strangers and don’t forget that your server is a person too. If a little blind cat can show love, why can’t we?