There is a bond of understanding amongst those of us who love animals.
I'm thinking here of those who come to know the cats, dogs, horses, who share our space for a number of years as individuals, each one unique in personality.
It is these friends, whether we have met in person or not, who rally round with words of comfort when the loss of a pet leaves a hole in one's life.
Having experienced the desolation of parting with a loved pet, we are gentle with the sensibilities of those whose loss is fresh. We remember and we feel the prickle of tears as we read another's story.
It takes a while to adjust to the empty spot beside us, time to realize that we won't see our cat curled in that favorite sunny spot on the windowsill; the dog won't be lumbering to his feet, tail wagging, ready to walk out with us.
We've had a few dogs over the years; we're not notably clever about dogs, perhaps a bit too impatient to deal well with the training needed to integrate a dog into the household.
We've had several horses for varying lengths of time.
Our Pebbles is 25--and I watch her anxiously, knowing that the remaining years or even months with her are surely numbered.
For me, it has always been cats. The feline race intrigues me and I find them to be the best of
Some cats--like some people who cross our paths--are more memorable than others.
There are the pleasant cats who are happy to be part of the background--seemingly asking little more than to be fed, housed and well treated. In return they make themselves agreeable.
There have been those few who were misfits, never quite settling in, remaining wary and distant.
There are the heartbreakers--those darlings, often mischievous, always original, to whom we become deeply attached, whose eventual passing leaves us diminished.
Mrs. Beasley's was not a front and center personality. She was not noisily demanding, she didn't [until her recent deterioration] do things which were disruptive. She was, for most of her 10 years, a quiet, amiable presence.
I have moved her favorite big basket out of the bedroom. I'm not ready to see it empty or appropriated by another cat. It is strange that she is not here in the room with me, purring wheezily at my feet.
I can visualize her still in so many places in the house or the cat yard.
Slowly the other cats are settling down. Willow is still skittish, but there have been no hostilities, no cat fights shattering the calm.
I am relieved that the recent weeks of tension and indecision have passed, though wishing the outcome could have been different.
I have been warmed and encouraged by the comments left in response to Mrs. Beasley's story.
The lifespan of the animals we love is too short at best. We take joy in their brief years with us, cherish them, adjust to their loss.
We share the tales of our cats and dogs and horses with those friends who need no explanation of the place these creatures hold in our affections.
My thanks to each of you who have taken a moment to share words of understanding.