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Sunday, November 25, 2012

“Joie de vivre!” wrapped in fur and purr

At least a dozen times over the past six months, people told me I should at least be thankful for the time that I did have with him. I suppose I don’t really blame anyone for spouting such platitudes. It’s the kind of thing you say when you don’t know what else to say.

And most people really don’t know what else to say to someone who is mourning the loss of a cat. In their minds, because he wasn’t human, his loss was somehow supposed to hurt less. I actually feel sorry for people like that. People who have not loved an animal deeply are missing a part of their humanity.

Galen, on the deck - Seven Fields, PA
Galen sitting on the railing of the deck.
Seven Fields, Pennsylvania.

It’s taken me over four weeks to grapple with my grief long enough to put at least some of it into words. I suppose even that’s not entirely true. Last October, I learned Galen had cancer. In theory, I had almost a year to embrace his eventual death. I should have been ready, but nothing prepared me for the gaping hole he left behind in my life.

I haven’t fully decided when I feel his absence the most. Is it morning when I realize he’s not stretched out beside me, or on chillier mornings, sandwiched up against me? Is it heading to the shower alone without him eagerly trotting in front leading the way? Is it coming home and not seeing him bounding to the door to greet me? Or perhaps it’s heading to bed knowing he won’t be there to purr me off to sleep.

Galen, on the catio - Tucson, AZ
Galen enjoying a warm day on the catio, January 2012
He always loved to be outside.

In reality, it is all of these things and a hundred other ways too. He was my companion in just about everything from sorting mail to sorting laundry. Wherever I was, he was usually nearby.

If life comes with an expiration date after the prescribed allotment of exuberance is used up, then I understand why his life was cut short. He was the essence of “Joie de vivre!” wrapped in fur and purr.

I suppose it’s only fitting then that at this time of Thanksgiving, I do give thanks for having been able to share what short time he and I did have together. I still feel his loss, but his life was truly a gift.

Micro, Londo and Galen, Seven Fields, Pennsylvania
This picture so captures three distinct personalities.
The timidity of Micro (left), the ennui of Londo (center), and the enthusiasm of Galen (right).

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

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