098 // A Hard Goodbye

My wife and I have decided it is time to humanely euthanize our very sweet, but very old cat. It was a hard decision to make, especially after having her in our lives for nearly 18 years. That’s 90% of our relationship and the entirety of our adulthood!

She’s been the picture of health her whole life, but these past years she has declined so much. She can no longer do her normal cat things and there’s little that seems to bring her joy anymore so, to preserve her dignity and stop her pain, we have decided it is time to say goodbye.

My wife likes to say that getting her is what made us into a family. She was the first thing outside of ourselves that we felt jointly responsible for. I was scared to get her at first. Kittens can be a handful, but she was a good cat from the very start.

Of course, she did the normal kitten things in the beginning, but to a minor extent and for only a small duration. She used to steal my hair ties out of the bathroom drawers while I was at work and push them under the refrigerator. At night she would pounce on my feet or try to sleep on my chest. We had a parakeet that she tried to eat once, and a guinea pig she terrorized often, but that was about it.

Her greatest quality, in my eyes, was her harsh selectivity in what other people or animals she would accept or even acknowledge. She has never been a social cat. She hated every dog we ever owned and could not stand to have another cat in the house. She hid when other people came over, especially from children, and would often hiss or scratch when approached.

There is another side to her, though. Every once in a while, she would pick a random friend or family member of ours to welcome into the fold, typically someone who had no interest in her or any other cat. Whenever she picked someone to love on, I always felt that they must be a good person, and the fact that she was always so loving and affectionate with me made me feel like there was something she sensed in me that was good and worth trusting too.

That is what I will remember most about her: how she made me feel special. I will remember how she loved to sit on my lap or sleep on my chest with her head in my neck. We could lay that way for hours and whatever I was sad or stressed about would seem so far away and small, so very unimportant. I will remember that there is more to love, to living, and to being than we humans have limited ourselves to.

Sophia certainly wasn’t the pet we were looking for when we set out to make our little family, but she was definitely the one we needed and I have always known that she chose us more than the other way around.

There are no words to express how much she will be missed.

Sophia a.k.a. Sophia Bia, Sophia Marie, Cat, Sweet Cat, Ol’ Lady

Vantage Point

“‘If you can see a thing whole,’ he said, ‘it seems that it’s always beautiful. Planets, lives…But close up, a world’s all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life’s a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. You need distance, interval. The way to see how beautiful earth is, is to see it from the moon. The way to see how beautiful life is, is from the vantage point of death.’”

― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

An Open and Existential Category of Being

You are busy being born for the whole long ascent of life, and then, after some apex, you are busy dying—that’s the logic of the line, as I interpret it. Here, “being born” is an open and existential category: you are gaining experience, living intensely in the present, before the period of life when you are finished with the new. This “dying” doesn’t have to be negative. It, too, is an open and existential category of being: the age when the bulk of your experience, the succession of days lived in the present, is mostly over. You turn reflective, interior; you examine and sort and tally. You reach a point where so much is behind you, but it continues to exist somewhere, as memory and absence at once, as images you’ll never see again. None of it matters; it is gone. But it all matters; it lingers.”

— Rachel Kushner, “The Hard Crowd“, The New yorker

Grieving in the Era of the Coronavirus

“I just think that we’re at this incredible time of mourning as a world. We’re all grieving our lives and grieving the lives that we’ve had before and worried about what’s going to happen in the future, and we’re all sort of stuck in a state of suspension. And some of the grief therapists that I talk to, the counselors, they say when you lose someone you love deeply, you want the world to stop. And the world has stopped. We’re all like in this collective place of reflection.”