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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I miss you more than I can possibly express.