Over a year ago, my daughter went out the front door of our house and started calling, “Animals, An-i-mal-sss.” My daughter is loud with a capital L, so it wasn’t a complete shock when my son came storming in the kitchen yelling, “Mom, she did it! The animals really are coming!
I walked out the front door to see a sturdy, gray cat sauntering down our driveway. He came that day and he never left. Having an indoor cat already, it wasn’t a stretch to share the cat’s food. We named him Uno.
It has been kind of hard to not have control over keeping Uno safe like I can the indoor cat. Once, Uno came to us with a nasty cut on his tail. I watched him groom his self back to perfection. He’s come to the porch with a scratch on his head or ear; nothing too serious, but it gives me glimpses into the life of an outdoor cat.
Welcoming him into our family, we left the garage cracked for him at night. But after a while we got more than the cat. Other animals wanted his food. I came into the garage to find an opossum or two, and I once had an encounter with a raccoon in there. As the raccoon was exiting the garage I ran around to look out of the dining room window. We met eyes, and that was the last time I left the garage open at night.
As a result of our closing the garage at night, I wake almost every morning to find Uno curled up on the porch. As the early riser in my home, it has been my job to open the garage and fill his cup of food. This is a male cat that spends his time out doors chasing things. The cat eats a lot.
It’s a comfort to see him on the porch in the mornings. This is why when he didn’t curl up on my porch on Monday or Tuesday, I went looking for him. I toured the perimeter of my house. I looked in the bushes by the garage. I went over to the woods lining my driveway, and there right next to our house, looking like he was asleep was Uno.
He has passed to the other side. Because there was no blood, I think he was bitten by a snake. I saw a copperhead over by that wall just last week. My son wanted to kill the snake, but I didn’t let him. Just like I didn’t stop Uno from killing the birds and I didn’t stop the birds from killing the worms. I didn’t stop the snake from biting my precious Uno.
Uno possesses a patience that is rarely found in animals or people. I have never met anyone who is more calm and firm in their spirit. When this cat stands beside me, I feel his energy as a hug. He loves to receive love, and in return the person with him receives a feeling of sureness that they are appreciated.
He has allowed my kids to pet him, pick him up and carry him all over the place. He’s fine with four kids petting him at once. My indoor cat hisses at him with no repercussions. Uno never stops being Uno and he seems to accept us all just as we are.
I am doing something different with my sorrow than I have before. Rather than convince myself Uno is better off, or tell myself this too shall pass, I am going to sit with my sadness over the loss of a wonderful friend. I can honestly say I learned lessons about life from this cat. I am happy I was able to provide him with food, a warm place to come inside when he wanted to come in, and a ton of love. Not only did I love him, so did my kids.
Nathan helped bury Uno yesterday and he has plans today to make a headstone for him. He drew a picture of Uno last night and wrote, “Uno and Nathan” as the caption.
Nathan is doing things for Uno. I am going to be with my pain and let it come when it comes. I will release it and then feel it all over again until I am ready to feel it less and less.
My daughter is handling it like one who knows exactly where Uno is and what he is doing. Last night when I was putting her to bed she said, “Cats come back as old men and they all go to Florida.”
I said, “Really?”
And she said, “Yep. Maybe next time we go see Mema we will see him there!”
Maybe we will.
Today, I allow myself to mourn. And, I allow my family to grieve in their own way.