Monday, May 7, 2012

It's been two months since my cat died. I still miss him. The pain has dulled and life has moved on, but I still think about him and wish he was here. Shortly after he died my daughter wrote an essay about him for a school assignment, and I wanted to share it. She really summed up what Bear meant to us, and how incredibly lucky we were to have a "one in a million" cat like him.

Paw Prints

  Being human means interacting with other people, objects, and places each day. Sometimes the best connections humans have, though, are the ones formed with their pets. Six years ago my family brought home two orange-tabby brothers. The one reminded me of peaches and cream because he had a soft white patch on his chest and his fur was lighter in color. The other kitten reminded me of a burnt orange; his fur had almost red-tones. Watching these two kittens play became my family’s entertainment of choice; they wrestled and chased each other all around the house. However, when playtime was over, the lighter colored cat became the family favorite, always giving affection and showing off. We named this cat Bear and he found his way into our hearts through his personality, remarkable feats of indoor adventure, and his devotion.

  Bear had the personality of a human. For people who have never owned an animal, it is hard to imagine a creature being able to display emotions and character, but they do. Bear’s personality was larger than himself. He was naughty- he’d climb on the counter and only get down if someone actually got up to shoo him off. He loved to knock cups over just to drink the last remnants of whatever had once filled them. My family became very accustomed to only using plastic cups for this reason. Bear was playful- he’d constantly chase his brother and they would flop over and playfully fight. Bear also had this habit of sitting at the back door and watching the leaves fall and the squirrels chase each other; he’d make an odd staccato sound that is too difficult to accurately describe. He was curious- sometimes my family would catch Bear in the act of discovering something. A new shoe, for example, became an object of terror. Bear would cautiously approach it, very silently and slowly. As he got closer he would reach out his paw to touch it, and if it did not move then he would repeat this action until he came to the conclusion that it was a sedentary item. His personality made him fun to watch, easy to love, and hard to leave for any duration of time.

  Bear loved adventure. Being an indoor cat, most people would naturally think that he was confined to sleeping and eating, but not this feline. My family would often find Bear sitting in the sink, he loved it there, and it was the perfect place to greet everyone. Whenever I came into the bathroom, he’d get up and come over to me and rub his face against mine, and then he would proceed to give kisses. Bear kisses were something special. He would place his cold pink nose up to my nose, sniff, and then touch the soft fur around his mouth to my lips. I consider this an adventure, because he was so enthused about it. Bear also loved to climb. My parents own an odd bed with a large wooden canopy, and countless times we would find Bear perched on top of the canopy, a good 7 or 8 feet from the ground. If Bear felt remarkably daring, he would sometimes jump from this canopy to the top of the open bedroom door. Bear was remarkably agile and somewhat muscular- my dad called him his “tank cat” because of how he was built. When not preoccupied with his balancing acts, Bear also loved to get in trouble. As previously mentioned, he would get on the counters, but the most amusing thing was when he expressed frustration at being punished or shooed. I remember several times when I would chase him off and he would stop a few feet from me after he had jumped down, and then he would give an indignant huff. This huff always seemed to say, “I do not understand why the counter is off limits to me but not to you; I wish you were busy with your human duties and quit bothering me when I just want to see what is up there!” He never lived a day without doing something that enthused him.

  Bear had an unmatched devotion. I once read a poem called “Footprints in the Sand” which talks about Christ walking alongside an individual on a beach. In the poem, the person asks him where he was when he needed him and how there were only one set of footprints at those times. Christ replied that he had carried the individual during those times. In some ways, Bear was like that to my family; he helped us out and was always there for us even when things became really hard. Bear was my mom’s constant companion; he would lick the salt off of her arms after her morning work-outs, he would jump on her lap during the day while she was working on the computer, and he would curl up with her at night. He loved my mom and she was his favorite person to be with. He also loved my dad. In the evenings Bear would jump on my dad’s lap and request to be patted or else he would continually nudge my dad’s face. Bear also loved his brother; they would frequently sit by the stairs and lick each other and help groom one another. I cannot remember a day when I did not see them do that at least once. Bear loved me. He would sit on my dresser and watch me sometimes until I came over to him; then he would give me kisses. He would let me pick him up, and he would just purr and nestle his face into the crook of my arm. If anyone in my family was stressed or hurting, Bear was there. Even at the end of his life, he held on for my mom. She cried over him so much, and he was hurting, but he relaxed every time she came around and when she was not around he tensed up and would look up frequently expecting to see her.

  Bear was a very special cat. He impacted my life but more so he left his mark on my whole family. He became our “paw prints in the sand” and losing him was like losing a part of ourselves. Some people say that nobody realizes what they have until it is gone, but my family recognized that Bear was one of the biggest blessings we have had in our life. He was our friend, our companion, our stress relief, our baby, and our entertainment. Without him, the house is quieter, less warm, and quite frankly it is unbearable. He lived for six years, and in that time he impacted my life more than most people have. I admired his audacity, aspired to be as loyal as him, and I was thankful every day for how much he loved my mom. He cannot be replaced, and although he is gone, his memory will remain forever in the hearts of my family.


Louann and Bari said...

Aww, very well said..even the description of your 'very odd bed'..
This will help you remember your dear friend in the years to come. Well said, well written.

Mama D said...

Amazing and tender. What a wonderful tribute to Bear and to you - and to Aimee. Love you, my friend!

Gwennaƫlle said...

I lost my three guinea pigs last year. They were old and moving to a new place was obviously too much for them.
They absolutely had a very personality no matter how much people think they are only rodents.