How lucky I am to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard. – Winnie the Pooh

After twelve years together, we put our cat to sleep before he withered away in pain he didn’t understand and we couldn’t heal.

Clifford annoyed the crap out of me. He had too much hair and was the neediest cat I have ever met. A rescue, he was a beautiful red tabby with the unfortunate luck of being named after a giant dog from children’s books.

Clifford was no fool. He scoffed at that irony for sure.

He was a whinner who coughed up hairballs in the most inappropriate places and climbed into our closet to deposit the rest of his damn hair on every piece of clothing we owned.

He was not my favorite pet by a mile, but oh, how he loved the man I love and was loved in return.

Clifford adored Michael in that unconditional way only animals truly manage. For his part, Michael laughed at, played with, and called Cliff his Kee-Kee.

They were friends. Stealing sunlight on the good days and resting steady during those times that required all heads down.

Michael has people in his life, human relationships. Most of them with strings. Cliff was a respite. An easy Sunday kind of companion who needed nothing but love and maybe a quick pull on his ears.

But Cliff was fourteen and no longer the cat who lunged in play to bite his best friend’s hand. So, we laid him down, pet all that hair, and Clifford fell asleep one last time while Michael’s heart broke open for a bit.

So much is tied up in our relationships with animals. They are special and simple in a way I’m not sure exists among humans. Michael has had more than his share of human complications.

As I watched him sob his goodbyes to Cliff, I wondered if part of him was crying for the collective pain of other moments when he had not the time nor the luxury to break down. Life blows he’d simply taken and gotten on with things as expected.

I didn’t ask. Michael never said, and Clifford was gone.

We are moving at the end of the month. Leaving behind the home we built, raised our children in, and after countless headaches, also grew to love.

I will miss this house. Michael will probably reflect on the bittersweet passage of time. He does that.

Before we load up the U-Haul and head to our smaller life in the City of Angeles, we will spread Clifford’s ashes under our favorite tree. He will stay behind, as he has so many times before when we ventured out.

On that day, I will try to remember the luck Pooh mentions.

For now, I’ll have another cry for the hard goodbyes ahead.

My thoughts from the laundry room. Goodnight.

acceptance choices family learning life love thoughts

12 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I’m so sorry about Clifford, Tracy. He was lucky to be surrounded by so much love, and so much devotion. Everything changes, but it’s never easy, and we move forward anyway. Godspeed as you venture forth to your new home. Wishing you every happiness.

  2. Oh, you made me cry. I’m so sorry about Clifford. And about goodbyes. They’re all around one of the suckiest parts of life, in my opinion. But I am so glad you let Clifford remain where he was most loved. Wishing you a wonderful new beginning in your new home.

  3. My sincere condolences to Michael, you, and all who loved Clifford. Pets give unconditional love, and I understand the grief since I have had several beloved cats in my life. All very different, and all much loved. And long-lived, and still grieved. I am currently without feline having lost Flash Toebiter last year. She was nearly 18 years old.
    Again, my sincere sympathies to your family, and good luck with your move.

  4. Pets will always have a piece of our hearts and if they give back that love, then it is very special.
    I can see that you are not only grieving for the loss of a family pet but to a lot of memories and growth in a place you called “home.”
    I wish you and your husband new memories, happiness and a different kind of “growth” in your new Home. . . .

  5. I was going to offer my condolences for your loss, but I think see several losses here. So, my condolences for your losses, and my best wishes that the future will hold gifts so lovely that you cannot even imagine them now. – Abe

  6. I’m so sorry for your lost. Animals shows us what’s the real meaning of “unconditional love” and that makes their loss so much harder. Sending all my love and support.

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