Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sam the Cat

When I was a junior in high school, two friends and I went shopping for costumes to wear for an upcoming play. Next door to the discount store happened to be an animal shelter so we stopped in to visit the cats. There I met the sweetest white with a gray tipped tail cat. He meowed at me and upon being taken out of his cage, put either paw on the side of my neck and gave me a huge cat hug. The next day I returned to the cat shelter with my Mom. Sam the cat returned with us to our house.

Over the years, Sam worked his way into all of our hearts with his quircky cat ways. Never the smartest cat, he was, however, sweet and gentle and funny. The first days he lived with us, he would follow me around (even jumping on my back when I would lean over to put my contacts in). Years later, after I left for college and then eventually moved out of my parents house, Sam became less my cat and more theirs. When I would return home to feed him while they were on vacations, Sam would yell at me and lead me to their room as if to say "they are not here - where have then gone and when are they coming home to me".

Last week, Sam's continued decline (he wasn't eating, couldn't jump onto furniture and was just looking miserable) led my Mom to make the tough decision to call the vet and have him put to sleep. Clearly, we were all very sad about this. As soon as I heard the news though, I was worried about Milo. Milo and Sam, although having a rough beginning, had struck a truce and developed a close friendship (if somewhat one sided). Milo often talked about Sam and would bring toys to show him. Sam tolerated the pets and hugs and chases around the house.

When Milo asked about seeing Sam this week, we had to say he was dead. The word sounded so harsh - dead, died, gone, not coming back. It's no wonder adults cling to the nicer ways of talking about death - passed away, moved on, resting. The finality of the words we chose to use with Milo are tough to swallow. He was quite upset about and had a lot of questions about where Sam went and why. We didn't have great answers.

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