My in-laws had to say goodbye to their old cat this week. She had fought a long, hard, fight, and battles that almost took her many times. She was a tough old girl, a sweet old girl, a cat that everyone loved.
Regardless of seeing the end years before, and losing many other beloved pets, there is always pain. A sharp and intense longing in the heart. Tears that sting at the eyes, even if you know “it was only a cat”. Because, as all animal lovers know, it’s never “only a” anything. They’re family, they are loved, they make our lives worthwhile.
The cruelty is that we love these creatures so much, almost like children, and they leave us well before we want them to. Halfway through a normal life, a quarter, a few years, they depart us and leave behind corners full of fur and claw marks on a couch.
While they poop inconveniently and behave rudely we still love these fluffs that we adopt. We love their snuggles and kisses, their talks and stumbles. We appreciate knowing that no matter what the world thinks of us, that cat or dog or rat or goat will be so happy to see us.
In ways pets reflect our love of humanity. Animals remind us not to take things so seriously. Animals reflect our desire to be more innocent and to explore without restrictions. They show us the animal nature we all have, and remind us that it’s okay to roll in the dirt and sleep outside. They encourage us to be honest with our existence and to love unconditionally. Yet, they hold magic in them that is not found with other people.
When they die we are also reminded of our fragility on earth, of being mortal. We hope that our passing will also be peaceful, with loved ones, asleep and then gone, if we’re lucky.
Yet even with our tears we are shown light in the hope of our own existence. In tears we find the strength to love again and again, because we know that the love learned from one pet, is too much to stop there.
They make it all worthwhile.