Since Cat died 20th March 2011 I have invited people to join me the Sunday following the anniversary in remembering our pets. It began the week after Cat died and brought me tremendous comfort. I was overwhelmed by people who emailed me telling me stories of their pets, how much they had loved them, how much they missed them, how much they appreciated those animals’ contribution to their lives.
Often when a pet dies it’s hard to talk about it. Colleagues can be unsympathetic; it’s only a cat/dog/guinea pig is a fairly common response. Yet it is normal and right to grieve, and wrong if we have to hide our grief, be made to feel ashamed, made to feel weak or foolish.
I am lucky that during my life I have had both cats and dogs who have enriched my life. I’d go further than that. My cats gave me an emotional support they did not know they were offering during Mother’s dementia, physical decline and eventual death. I know that’s not an uncommon thing for people to say. Freddy (Cat) spent a lot of time at Mother’s. Hers was his home in the country. She loved the way he would walk up the garden path and in through the catflap when I let him out of the car when we arrived. As dementia claimed more and more of her, she still took pleasure watching him; he made her smile, and when she was seriously ill she would wake to find him sleeping on her bed beside her and stroke his fur.
MasterB spent less time with her, but he was with me on the boat during the last days of her life when I would return from sitting by her bedside while she slowly let go of her life.
So tonight remember the pets we have had, and cherish the ones we have now. They give so much and ask for so little.