Being a parent never ceases to amaze me. There are days when I literally think, “Where did you come from?”, and there are days when I just say thank you. This past summer we lost our cat Sam. He had been with me for sixteen years. He was super special. Super kitty was one of his many nick-names. Sam died when our daughter was away at overnight camp. Talia never got to say goodbye one last time. It’s been interesting to observe how she handles loss. She is nine years old and Sam has been by her side since the day she was born…although Sam did not like the crying baby very much. Too much noise for a sleepy kitty. There relationship blossomed and Sam has adorned almost every picture Talia has brought home from school. She even has a stuffed animal modeled after Sam which she has schlepped everywhere since the age of two. Sam was very special to us.
When Talia got home from camp and we told her the news. She cried and experienced grief in her own way. She shared with me that the hardest part for her was that she did not get to say goodbye. So, we made sure that she had the opportunity.
Tal wrote Sam a letter letting him know how she felt about him. Most of the letter consisted of ‘You were the best kitty’…things like that. I encouraged her to write her feelings, as we were going to make sure that letter got to Sam, and ask him to send a sign when he received it. When the letter was completed and put in it’s envelope, we stapled it to a beautiful bouquet of balloons that Talia picked. One read ‘you are special’, the other, ‘I love you’. They were the balloons I surprised her with when she came home from camp. She wanted to send them to Sam. We stood outside together and watched the wind take Talia’s message to the clouds. We said goodbye and hugged.
Talia waited for a sign from Sam for a few days. Then she came to me to let me know he had confirmed that the message had arrived. Sam has sent us quite a few message since his passing. We keep his memory alive and have dedicated a chair to him in our dining room, the chair he sat on every night at dinner time. He loved to be with the family and even though it was not his dinner, he was happy to join us.
A few days ago I drove by the vet where Sam took his last breath, and it brought a tear to my eye. I swear that cat new me better than any human being. Just after, I went to pick up Talia from Sunday school. She handed me a picture she drew. It was of Sam. Of course, I started to cry. What amazed me was Talia’s reaction to my tears, and her coaching which accompanied her calmness. She said, “Mommy, please don’t cry. Sam doesn’t want you to be sad. Do you know what I did when I was at camp and I felt sad? I would take three slow deep breaths, and think of something happy. Then I would smile and continue thinking of that happy thought. I would do that a few times, and feel better.” Is this a lesson in gratitude or what?? This blew my mind, and made me smile. Talia and I took our three slow deep breaths and smiled, and shared what made us happy. It was really amazing to me. My child is not the warm and fuzzy type (opposite of her mom!) but she sure has it in her. Our kids surprise us at the most wonderful times.
Sam’s memory lives on with us. We are blessed to have a beautiful kitty named Snow which we adopted last year from the animal rescue. She is a sweetheart and doesn’t miss Sam one bit. She is happy to have the place to herself. She makes us laugh and I remind her every day that she is so special to us and nota replacement. I also let Sam know no one could take his place. I believe having a pet enhances our experience in life. Pets remind us to be calm, grateful and loving. I adore the way my daughter honor’s Sam’s passing. I adore the way she keeps him alive in her heart. I adore the constant reminders of how precious life is.