Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I have, for a few weeks, been planning on telling you about our kitty saga. We moved to Utah and got some pets, two little kittens that filled up the heart's desire of my children. Pets weren't an option in New York. But they are in Utah, and so here we were. And then we found this house to rent. And one of the compelling reasons to take it was that they said our cats could stay. So we were happy.

But the house we live in has a generic backyard, with the same generic fencing that everyone has around here and one night the kitties wandered off and got lost. And we were sad, mostly for my second daughter, who loved those little cats, violently. And we told the girls to pray for them. And we prayed for them. And one afternoon someone brought Bella back. Although Azure was still AWOL, having Bella back was a comfort. And there was no chance of losing her again because, like any respectable cat with nine lives, she came back. Anytime she left our yard for the next week and a half, someone brought her home, or called, or left a note saying she was at so & so's house and we could pick her up.

She came back. And back. And back.

So my daughter could haul Bella around in what looked like a most uncomfortable manner, and Bella could meow up at me to ask for a little bit of relief and some food, and I could employ my impressive cat hissing abilities to scare off bigger cats who came to take my kitten's food. And she was a sweetheart. And on Saturday, she died. She was run-over in the most gentle way possible for a little kitty, for which I am grateful, though I'll spare you the details. Our neighbors found her little body curled up in the rain and they put a bucket over her and when we arrived home Ben found her, and our children didn't. Thankfully.

And Ben dug a little grave in the corner of our yard, out in the rain, by himself. When we told the girls, our oldest burst into tears and our other daughter, the one who Loved our Bella, didn't. She looked at her sister and wondered for a second if she should do the same, but that isn't her nature, and in the somber moment, she stayed true to herself. And we talked about our kitty up in heaven and our daughter insisted against the trauma of her sister that our kitty would indeed be resurrected. And that would be good.

The girls and I had been talking about the resurrection just a few days before. Thankfully.

It's been a long time since I lost a pet. I forgot how much it hurts. That this little ball of fluff meant for my children, always waiting for just the right moment to dash inside the house, coming eagerly when I called her, exasperating me with her lacksidaisical use of the litter box, could work her way so easily into my heart and leave it a little bit hollow when she left.

In French, the word for dead is 'mort'. I've been planning the title for this post, but I just realized that. Death is the inevitable result of mortality. It's the reason why we're mortal, because we 'mort;' we can die, we will die. We do die. Even little kitties with nine lives. And I told Ben our next pet will have to be a fish, because I don't see myself getting too attached to one of those. But I also told him that I think one of the reasons you have pets, whether they be fish, or cats, is to teach your children about mortality.

Which in reality teaches them about immortality. We're mortal. But we won't stay that way.

We prayed for our kitty cats, that they would be safe, that they could come home. And Bella did. And then she went home again.

Being mortal hurts. Being mortal means that you'll feel sadness when your kitty can't flit around your ankles anymore. But I can't imagine a heaven and a life after this one without animals. And neither can my girls. In part because they know that at their core, this life is not about being mortal, but being immortal. And even when it's just about a kitty, that's the comfort.


  1. Oh what a sad, beautiful story. I'm so sorry about the kitties. This is the main reason I'm postponing getting another pet (something my kids keep begging me for). We were all quite traumatized by the death of our beloved bird. Mortality is such a hard lesson for everyone to learn, maybe even harder for adults because faith comes more naturally for children.

  2. Such pain. Maybe that's why I don't like pets. Maybe it's because I got so close to one eary on and I've never wanted that again. (Her name was Happy and she was a beautiful collie. She's buried in my parents backyard.)

  3. Just found your blog and read this sad entry. I'm so sorry to hear about your kitty. So sweet the way your younger girl accepted it. Some of life's lessons are just hard. Thank goodness for the children around us who help us to see things through their eyes, with such great faith.

    I've always known there will be animals in heaven, and I have several cats waiting for me there...

    I'll keep coming back here.

  4. great as always...and sometimes i wonder if we have pets to teach us adults about mortality...