Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Her green eyes search out mine—pain, confusion, what is she feeling? Those same soft eyes that stole my heart over twelve years ago, imploring me to take her home, to take her into my life, to take her into my heart. I couldn’t resist those eyes.

She took up residency immediately, she and her brother, together. My first babies. They’ve been a part of our family since one year after its inception—I cannot imagine our family without her. Without her presence at the top left corner of the sofa—the self-appointed Official Welcoming Committee greeting all who come to see her, and, she assures me, they ALL come to see HER. I cannot imagine life in our home without her warmth in my lap on a cold winter’s day, without her chirp-like call that announces her need to be adored and admired, without her persistent pawing every morning as I eat my cereal, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to lap up the remnants of milk she is not really supposed to have.

I was severely depressed when we adopted Max and Ruthie. I didn’t shift gears into marriage and adulthood easily—the jerking and grinding took its toll on me and on our relationship. I convinced my husband to move to a new apartment just so we could get cats, because I somehow knew that if I could only just hold something, just love something, just pet something that I would feel better. There was some truth to that. Ruthie introduced life to our home. Now, she will introduce death.

I hold her longer, trying to be especially still so as to not cause her pain. Trying to make up, I suppose, for the last six and a half years of neglecting her—trying to soothe my conscience for displacing her in a multitude of minute ways. She slept on the bed last night—the first time she’s been allowed in at least a year. More accurately, she slept on ME last night—her faint vibrating felt through the layers of flannel and cotton heaped upon my cold-intolerant body. I cradled her, trying not to be shocked anew by her skeletal state.

“Say goodbye to your dog, Lorie. He probably won’t be here when you get home.” I remember that moment, in 10th grade, as if it were yesterday. I remember crying all day, and my mom being so upset afterward she had to drown her sorrow at the mall to the tune of an amount that made my father's voice raise. And I remember her saying, often, that we would never have another pet because she could never go through that again.

Now I am the mom—and I don’t know any better than she did how to deal with the situation. A trip to the mall is certainly not in our budget. I am half-embarrassed by my response—things like calling a friend to see if she can watch my son while I take Ruthie in for the appointment and not being able to speak through the waves of emotion crashing against my voicebox. Things like choking up on the phone with the vet’s office. Things like writing about my cat dying, with tears streaming down my face to the point where I have to stop every sentence or so to clear my vision.

She is my baby. And she is dying.

And I am very, very sad…


Beth said...


I am so so sorry. We lost our precious cat in 2002. She was the kitty Tim gave me right after we got married, and when he got called up for Desert Storm and had to leave for nearly two months, she was my best companion. Always there.

And I know that guilt about displacing your pet after kids. Especially after the boys were born, I almost used to resent Callie for wanting affection -- I just felt like I couldn't stand to have to care for one more creature.

But I know you and I know that you have given Ruthie a wonderful, safe and sweet home. You have done right by one of God's creatures. And phooey on people who don't get the pain of losing a pet. It's a REAL REAL loss. Plus, as moms, we have the hard task of explaining it to our kids.

For what it's worth, I think that God, being a God who notices when even a sparrow falls, cares deeply about all our animals. That's why the sacrificial system in the OT was such a big deal. Maybe people write it off as, "Oh, it was just an animal being sacrficed." But no. It was one of God's precious creations. And that's why it was such a sacrifice.

And there's no theology that says our pets won't be in heaven. Truly, I hold out real hope for that (call me a geek :)

God cares. I'll pray that He comes alongside you all.


Cynthia said...

Jesus, I pray you will help my friend say good-bye to her beautiful Calico Ruthie. Comfort my friend with the notion that Ruthie will be sitting in that same spot on the sofa waiting for her in the magnificent mansion you've built for Lorie in that heavenly place. Thank you Jesus for hearing my prayer tonight.

Much love to you Lorie.

Nancy L (formerly C) said...

I am so sorry. Knowing how I feel about my 'babies', I can't even put into words the grief I share with you. My childhood pet (dog) passed away when my first son was a year old so I was well into the thick of parenting. I know when the time comes that I lose one of my cats it will be a horribly painful experience. But, God is God and He will be there with me then and YOU now. I'll keep you in prayer.

lorie said...

Thank you to all three of you- I'm making a mental note never to check this while I'm at work, so as to not ruin my make-up... You each had something very helpful to me- thank you...

amy said...

Your response is who you are...who you are made to be. That's a good thing. Please don't be "half-embarrassed" over your reaction. When I lived in Hungary, my mom called me when her cat died and couldn't talk for a full five minutes. Finally, through her sobs and agony and a pathetic phone connection, I figured out what had happened. I love her because that is who she is. I'm sure your friends and family love you because this is who you are.

Lorie, I'm so sorry about Ruthie. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us.

And for good measure, your pic of you and your kids is beautiful. It is obvious that they love the job you are doing (even your pouty little guy!!)

lorie said...

Thank you Amy, that's very kind of you...