“What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” – Helen Keller
Dear OVC Pet Trust,
My cats Goodness and Mercy were ornery. Well, they were feral, really. Life was hard for them because they were cats’ cats, forced to live with humans for security, and they never really liked it. Their mother lived in an apartment with other cats owned by someone who was almost never home. Goodness and Mercy loved my previous cat, who died when they were about eight years old. But although they were fond of me, they haunted the house silently, like shadows. They never purred, but I loved them dearly. Mercy died two years ago, and Goodness died this spring, at 18 years old, after every organ had just worn out. She needed to go. The Midtown Mobile Veterinary Hospice Service was so good to her that her death was better than her life. I cried and cried, not because she was dead but because her life was so miserable. The thought of all those long gray years of cat-grief – the weight of her sadness, the everlasting heaviness of it – it seemed she was out of place her whole life. It’s awful to live with a sorrowing cat.
You know how every animal has something to tell you? A sort of message written in warm fur, something you wouldn’t have known if you didn’t live with them? I learned more than I ever wanted to know about sadness from Goodness and Mercy.
But I loved them, and the second thing they taught me is that a house without a pet isn’t worth putting a roof over. Cats are like music – even when you don’t see them, they fill the whole house. Some part of you is always thinking of them, listening for them, planning for them. You fit together like a lock and key – it’s a completeness many pet owners feel, I think.
My friend told me about old cats, sick cats, ugly cats that no one wants because they could be too much trouble and too expensive, and I made up my mind immediately to adopt two of them.
The love Goodness birthed in me was going to waste; I didn’t want it to turn sour inside me.
Loving our pets is one of the ways that we keep the lights on for our planet. This love...it pays our bills, and it lights our lives. I said ‘I love you’ so often to Goodness that she probably thought that was her name. I don’t want to let the embers of my heart grow cold. I want to continue to be part of keeping the lights on. I do believe in love, and I believe that the world is infiltrated with that necessary substance in any number of ways. And our pets are one of them.
We live on the love generated by these encounters, and this love is what keeps the lights on for the whole wide world. For our civilization. Our humanity.
Gifts made in honour or in memory of a beloved pet to OVC Pet Trust support advancements in companion animal health at the Ontario Veterinary College. Thank you to everyone who chooses to give back to improving and advancing companion animal health and well-being in this meaningful way. Make a gift today.
Access is available to pet loss support resources on our website.