And Then Our Cat Died

by Elizabeth

I’m not even sure how to write about this. Four months ago we bought a cat for our children. He was a beautiful stray who had been rescued by the Humane Society, and we fell in love with him. He was our little Lion King. He filled our yard with life and light. And we thought he’d be a part of our family for a long time.

But it wasn’t to be.

Gryff was a wanderer. He was constantly trying to get into other people’s houses. Sometimes he succeeded. He left us often, and most of the time he came back on his own. But nearly as frequently, we received calls from people as far as 3 streets away to come pick him up at their house.

Still, we were ridiculously in love with this cat. The kids liked to study outside with him. They liked to draw pictures of him. They liked to snuggle him. People often commented on how sweet of a cat he was.

He had started staying out at night and not coming back till the next morning. We were expecting this; he was supposed to be an outside cat. But then he didn’t come back, and we also didn’t receive a call from anyone. Eventually a neighbor stopped by to tell us what had happened — another neighbor had seen the accident and told her.

A car hit him on the road near our house. We weren’t at home when it happened. But when we found out, Jonathan went looking for the body and helped us bury him. We cried and even wailed over Gryff’s death. It was a deep pain and a deep loss. He was our first pet. We didn’t know how sad it would be to lose a pet.

Now we know.

A mom doesn’t want her kids to suffer, but she can’t stop the suffering. I wish my kids didn’t have to lose Cambodia. I wish they didn’t have to lose their cat. But as much as I wish to prevent them from experiencing pain, I have no power to do so. It’s one of the most difficult parts of being a parent. All I can do is walk through the pain with them.

So we held a funeral for him. We talked about the silly things he did. We talked about the annoying things he did. We talked about how much we loved him. We honored his place in our lives for just a short time. He helped us settle our hearts in America, and for that I will be forever grateful.

It’s been a week since we buried him, and there’s still an empty spot in our hearts. In the beginning we couldn’t bring ourselves to spend time in the yard without him. It was too sad and lonely. The first few days without him were especially rough. We watched with our own eyes as my husband shoveled dirt onto his body. Still, we kept expecting him to show up at the back door, begging for food. Other times we thought we could hear him meowing.

For days we couldn’t bring ourselves to clean up his water bowl and food bowl. I still haven’t put away the blanket he slept on. And at first I didn’t think I could ever buy my family another cat. I could not give my heart to another creature, only to lose it again so soon after. But after visiting some friends whose cats are just as loveable as ours was and learning how many cats they’ve lost over the years, I’m beginning to think I could possibly welcome another cat some day. But not yet.

So we are slowly adjusting to life without our beloved kitty. After all, there are still birds to feed and plants to water. God’s good, green earth still grows even in the midst of death. Through the pain — and maybe because of the pain — our hearts and souls grow along with it.