Losing a beloved family member is never easy. Over the past week, my beloved twenty-one year old cat, Izzy, had all the signs that I dreaded to see – a decreasing interest in food, a vacant gaze and yesterday he did not come down for his morning meal. Blood tests proved that severe liver issues had surfaced since his last check-up in competition with the feline leukemia that had been diagnosed late last year. I made the heartbreaking decision to let him go.
In my grief I turned to a wonderful book by one of my neighbors, Meg Daley Olmert, “Made for Each Other, The Biology of the Human–Animal Bond” and reread her words of wisdom. I also remembered the poem “Cat in an Empty Apartment”, a poem from the book “View with a Grain of Sand” by Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska. Unlike the cat in the poem, I survived Izzy and he lived a long life with me after his two previous human companions had died. Two of the poet’s phrases resonated with me-“nothing seems different here, but nothing is the same…someone was always, always here, then suddenly disappeared.”
I gratefully remember the day at Talbot Humane when I saw a heavy orange and cream cat laying in his litter box who was clearly traumatized by his new surroundings. I was delighted to discover he was a polydactyl with big “mitten” paws. It was love at first sight for me and he came home with me to meet my younger cat, Bunter. Izzy weighed twenty-five pounds and quietly sat in front of Bunter like a serene Buddha. Bunter, however, was eager to establish dominance and began flaying his arms to pick a fight. Without changing his expression, Izzy smacked his paw across Bunter, sending him into a backward tumble. So many happy memories that I know will sustain me.
At times of stress, a song pops into my head to help me cope. This morning I heard in my head Sarah McLachlan’s song “ I will Remember You” and I know my beloved Izzy will always be with me in spirit.