This is a story of a tiny tragedy in a world of infinitely worse tragedy. But this tragedy is ours.
Our cat was killed by traffic on Thanksgiving eve. We only had her two years but she was the best cat we ever had. She was a shelter cat that no one wanted because she needed hundreds of dollars of work on her teeth, but she took a liking to my daughter so we brought her home. We named her Willow. She had terrible breath and the loudest purr I’d ever heard and would drool if you scratched her just right.
She was an outdoor cat through and through. An adventurer. We kept her indoors for the first few months and she would sit on a desk in the TV room and watch the world outside her window, her throat making plaintive cawking sounds whenever she saw a bird or a chipmunk. The first time she stayed out all night I thought we’d lost her. We called and called but she didn’t come. Eventually my wife heard a faint mewling, and we eventually found her trapped beneath the neighbor’s riding mower.
It wasn’t unusual for her to stay out all night, and if I was up late sometimes I’d open the front door and call to her into the stillness of the night. Many times there’d be no response but sometimes from far away I’d hear the faintest jingle of the tiny bell on her collar, gradually growing louder as she sprinted toward the house from the neighbor’s yard. What a joy it was to scoop her up and hold her to my face!
On Thanksgiving eve, she didn’t come home for dinner and she didn’t come home for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Reluctantly, I put on my shoes and began a circuit of the tree lawn. It’s something I’ve done many times before, whenever she was gone too long. This time I’d made almost the entire circuit of our yard before I saw a gray shape on the tree lawn in front of the neighbor’s house. It was her.
We buried her in the backyard, against the fence where the earth is still soft. Willow, I’m thankful we had you for the short time we did. I’m thankful we found you, that we weren’t left wondering to your fate. Most of all, I’m thankful for the easy grace you brought to our house. We will miss you deeply. The house is emptier without you.