Simon Says Goodbye

Three and a half years ago, my beloved black cat Sammy passed away from kidney failure. He was only three years old himself. The day after his traumatic death, I walked into the Humane Society and said simply, “I need to hold a black cat.”

The women there were very kind and accommodating to this grief-stricken girl and her strange request. Soon after,  I began a years long friendship with them, and the rest of the furry residents of the Kitty Kottage.

A couple months after I began coming by regularly, an adult male black cat was dropped on their porch. The women arrived at work in the morning only to find him in a pet carrier with a note.

“Friendly neighborhood cat. Keep the carrier.”

Whether he was truly just a “neighborhood cat” or not, we’ll never know, but he was christened “Cruiser” by the staff, since he was allegedly found “cruising” around the neighborhood.

Shortly after his arrival, as I sat in their floor playing with some of the kittens, he sauntered in. He sized me up, climbed into my lap, flipped over on his back like a baby, and began to purr.

“It looks like you’ve been picked!” one of the staff members exclaimed. Indeed, it did.

Every visit would see the same behavior. The staff informed me that as an adult male black cat his chances of being adopted were slim to none. I slowly began to realize  that I needed to take this enchanting creature home. That while he could never replace Sammy, he might be able to help heal the hurt, and the gaping hole left by Sammy’s death.

I brought him home in July of 2013, along with a few other cats, whose story I will tell another day. I renamed him Simon, for the character Simon Birch in the movie of the same name. He was small, but mighty.

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From that day forward, our only separation was when I left the house for work. If I exercised, he walked with me. One of our favorite spots was a grove of trees out front of the house, where he would show off by sprinting up one of the trees and then posing dramatically before jumping down again. If he got tired of walking, I picked him up and carried him.

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When I worked from home, he slept on top of a brown pillow I had out for him. When I showered, he stayed in the bathroom to make sure no boogeymen were there to attack me. He slept next to me, sat in my lap when I watched tv, kept me company when I was sick (which lately, had been often), posed for numerous Instagram photos, always came running when I called him, and when he heard the garage door open, I would walk in to find him waiting for me outside the door.   And if, by some odd chance, he hadn’t heard the garage, I’d find him on my side of the bed, curled up next to my pillow.


His antics were so adorable to me (as any cat lover would say of their own furry child) that I created a hashtag called #SimonSays to more easily access all of his photos and the memories we had created.

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He never judged, never said I looked fat, never called me stupid, never minded my moods, and most important; loved me fiercely and exclusively. Despite his semi-permanent frown, he allowed me to cradle him like a baby, and would purr contentedly.

He was also one of the smartest cats I’ve ever known. His words may have been silent, but we talked all the time, and understood each other perfectly. He healed my heart in ways I couldn’t imagine, and the only thing he deprived me of was more time.

I wanted years and years with him. I wanted more cuddle time, more adventures, more companionship. More of everything. More of him.

I didn’t get it.

Simon was in my life for approximately three years and six months. This morning, Christmas Eve morning, I found him where he loved to be most in the world, just outside our grove of trees. There were no marks on him, no signs of struggle, no blood. Just my sweet, sweet friend lying in the grass.

I still have no idea what happened, but I think I know when it did. I getting ready for the day in my bathroom when I heard a noise of distress that sounded exactly like Simon’s “voice.” It sounded like he was right under my window. I was so alarmed, that I ran and looked outside to make sure he was okay. I didn’t see him.  He was hidden by the hill of grass. I found him about 20 minutes later.

Today was the day Simon says Goodbye. And my heart, while twisted with pain and inconsolable with grief, is so, so grateful that I knew him. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be days filled with family, happiness, love, and joy. Why did I lose my best friend on Christmas Eve? Why him? Why now?

It’s not fair.

But. That’s the one thing Life always promised. Never to be fair. 

And so.

Goodbye, my sweet, feisty, adventurous companion. Thank you for coming into my life at the perfect time, and bringing me such love and joy.  You knew me and chose to love me, and every day you let me know how much.

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I miss you more than I can possibly express.




35 Days to 35: Cheating on Simon

I have a confession.

Once a week, every week, I sneak off and visit Mike. I meet up with him and kiss his face and tell him how handsome he is and how much I love him. And then I go into another room and find Wiley and tell him the same thing.

Then I try to make time to give Gigi, Dolly, Bob, Sabrina and many, many others a brief hug or kiss. I tell each of them how special they are, and how good they are, and how loved they are.
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Allergic to Love: A Simon Story

If you’ve ever wondered about the power of positive words, allow me to reintroduce Simon. For those of you who haven’t yet met him, look no further than the article entitled, “Simon Sees A Murder.” It’s two below this one. I’ll wait while you catch up.

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Great. Now that you know how he feels about bath time, let me tell you a little bit more about his origin story. When I would visit him at the Humane Society before adopting him, he would run to me, leap into my lap, flip over on his back and purr. I was assured that he had ‘chosen’ me for his owner, and it seemed that was true.

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Love means exposing your belly and hanging upside down.

However, when I took him home, something strange happened. He got tiny bumps all over his little body, and whenever I would try to pet him, he would purr furiously and LOUDLY, but immediately begin to choke and run away. I took him to the vet, got some medicine, and his bumps cleared up, but not the purr/choke issue.

I finally figured out that when I tried to pet him, he became so overwhelmed with happiness, that his purr motor was ‘overheating’ and choking him, thus causing him to run away.

He was literally becoming allergic to love.
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Simon Sees a Murder

The Theory:

My cat was the only witness to a murder in a bathroom. Henceforth, he feels it is his loving animal duty to prevent that same kind of murder from happening to me. I don’t mean to be macabre, but that is really the only explanation that makes sense.

His background:

Simon is one of my beautiful adult black cats adopted from the Humane Society last year. He had been left on their front porch in a carrier with a note that read: “Friendly neighborhood cat. Keep carrier.”

Simon is many things, and he is friendly, to a degree, but there is no way he was just some ‘friendly’ neighborhood cat. He’s very skittish, and frightens at the least little noise. I don’t think this is the kind of cat that would just wander up to strangers. Actually, this is the kind of cat that hides until he’s certain it’s me that’s calling for him.

Our relationship:
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A cat named Cat Ballou

This was written shortly after I found Cat. It had been years since I had a feline as a pet. Happily living with two dogs, I didn’t know what I was missing until that day in December. Cat stayed with me for several months, and was the best mouser I ever had the privilege to know.

She took walks with me, slept with me, and just generally improved my life. After I moved, she ran away after some fireworks and a run in with another family member’s dog. She had started living in the wild, and she went back to the wild. One of her ears was grown together at the tip and was her only identifying mark. I searched for weeks, months, and then a year. I still miss her.

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For those of you who don’t yet know the story, “Cat Ballou” is one of my very favorite movies. It is one that I watched over and over again as a kid, and actually never gets old. It’s a comedy western and stars Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, Dwayne Hickman and Michael Callan. Lee Marvin won the best supporting Oscar that year as the drunken “Kid Shaleen.” He famously said that half of his Oscar belonged to “a horse somewhere in the valley.” Watch the movie. You’ll see what he means.

Anyway, on December 12th, I was coming home from running some errands when I saw a cat dart across the road. Since I live on a road that is a popular “drop off zone” (a place where cats and dogs are dumped by owners who know the schmucks on this street will more than likely take them in) I stopped the car. I got out and did the ‘test.’
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An Evening with Deana

This entry is from a journal I keep on occasion called, “Every Day Moments.” It was begun during a time when I needed to see the good in every day situations to cope with grief.

My beloved pet cat Sammy passed away about six weeks prior to this entry. His sister Deana, mentioned below, passed away on January 2nd of this year. Both had kidney issues. 

They were only in my life for just over four years, but brought me immeasurable joy, and I miss them. Occasionally, I will share more memories as they come to mind.

May 31st, 2013

“The day after Sammy passed, I started visiting the Humane Society once a week after work. I stood there, desolate, and told them I just needed to hold a black cat. It was the best way I knew how to cope and still function. I met many, many beautiful souls there. I’ll tell their stories another day.

Today, after a long day of work cleaning and being cooped up indoors, I came home and let all my remaining animals outside. Right now that total stands at two dogs and one cat, but tomorrow that will change. Two sweet black male cats are coming home to live with me. I know my two new friends won’t be able to replace Sam, but I’m hoping it will help me move forward.

As I sat down on the ledge of flowers we planted near his grave, I sighed. I know it’s silly and probably pointless, but every time I pass his grave I want to to, or do, say “Hi Sam.” For nearly four years, I said that every time I saw him, and I still miss saying it.

Deana followed close behind me, as usual. Whenever we go to that area of the garden, she always ends up sitting on the stone marker. Do I think she knows Sammy’s there? No; but it moves me when I see her perched there. I do think she sleeps under the couch now because that’s where he slept. Knowing things will change tomorrow, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her tonight.

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