My Cat Boo is gone

My Cat Boo is gone

Boo 2009 photo

Boo 2009 photo

My cat Boo was killed Thursday June 4th around 4:30 am by a stray dog. We had lived together about 10 years. Boo was just a few weeks old when we took her in. My daughter Maya found her at a gas station on Macon Road in Memphis in 1999. Maya was 15 then. Boo and I lived in three different houses in two different cities.  Boo was living with me at the end of my first marriage to Jenny. After a period of living together in my bachelor house, she and I moved in together with Carol, my second wife. Boo and I definitely lived through a lot of changes in our 10 years together.

Those are the facts.

Some feelings: Losing Boo hurt more than I ever thought it could hurt. And I thought it would hurt a lot. It hurt more than that.

And, I am basically ok today. Grieving is a process that begins and ends. For most of us it is intense on the front end and gradually fades over time. That is already happening for me.

I think the best thing I did to help myself was to clear my schedule and not put any pressure on myself to perform. And my wife Carol was very supportive in that regard- she took care of me and the daily running of the house while I was riding an emotional roller coaster.

The day Boo died was tough- I didn’t do much other than bury her and cry for a few hours. Everything was hard.  Later that day I managed to put together a little obituary of her that I published in my bicycle club newsletter– that was very therapeutic. And, I found some photos of her on my computer and made some collages and slide shows. That helped, too.

We’re pretty sure we know which dog killed her- a stray boxer was caught by a nearby neighbor the day after Boo was killed. My wife had heard the fight and looked outside. She did not see the fight- it was over in a few seconds. But, she saw the dog that we think killed Boo. It was dark, however, so her view was not clear. But Carol is an artist and she remembers profiles and lines. The boxer matches the killer’s profile. And, he had been seen in our neighborhood by others for 2-3 days before he was captured by the nice neighbor who was trying to help the lost dog.

I have forgiven the boxer- many dogs chase cats and sometimes they catch them and kill them. Boo herself was responsible for the demise of various creatures smaller than her- birds, bugs, etc. Animals kill animals. It is how the world works.

Boo insisted on being outside and would drive us crazy when we tried to keep her in against her will, so whenever Boo wanted out, we let her out. She would still be alive, probably, if I had forced her to stay inside.

So I have had to forgive myself, too, for giving in to my cat’s urges. But I think it would have been cruel to Boo to keep her inside as an indoor house cat- that just wasn’t who she was. She would not have been the same proud fierce cat if I had kept her inside. I had to let her out so that she could be who she was, but who she was, was a cat who got into fights.

I think Carol  might be in the same predicament with me and my bicycling as I was in with Boo and her need to be outside. I love bicycling so much but I have almost died on my bikes a few times. Should Carol make me stay inside and insist that I not ride bikes anymore? It’s a dilemma we all face in many ways.

Boo was a tough cat who would rarely back down. My daughter and I used to compare scars from where Boo had scratched us. I still have a few scars from her- in a way, I hope they stick around as a reminder. Boo stood up for herself many times in the animal kingdom that is our neighborhood. This time she was unfortunate. She lost to a stronger opponent.

She died like she lived- fierce and free.

I loved her more than I suspected. I began to discover how deeply I loved her when I found her dead in the yard. My grief poured through the hole in my heart over the next few days.

Boo was a joy, a friend, a pain in the rear, a playmate, a creature to admire from afar, a savage animal, my companion, and a member of our family.

I can’t believe how much I loved that cat.  I know now even more than before that I am capable of immense love and to live otherwise is dishonest. For that awareness I am deeply grateful.  Thanks Boo.  That’s a pretty heavy teaching from a cat.

I understand myself a lot better as a result of going through this grieving process. But my understanding came as a gift that I could not receive until

my heart

was broken

open

when Boo died.*

Adios Boo. Thanks for the smiles and the trials.  I love you.

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5 Responses to “My Cat Boo is gone”

  1. I am so very sorry for your loss. My goodness, how tragic; and sad. The creativity you used to deal with the grief is inspirational, so soon after it had happened. We get attached easy with animals, and an animal that has been through and with you—I’ll shut up~
    I am understanding why you have a new kitten with you now:)~

    Fiesty and Fierce. I like that.
    Sincerely,
    Renee

  2. Cliff,

    You are the man. Thanks for sharing your heart. Thanks for keeping it real.
    To live fierce and free. AMEN! To fight through the battles of life and to learn from mistake, to grow from each wound, to be renew from each lost. That’s what’s life about. You practice what you preach. I’m am honor that you would share such a vulnerable moment. You are a stud.

    take care doc,
    Kenny U.

  3. Hey, thanks Kenny. If you spot it, you got it. You can see it in me because it is in you, too. Now you just have to live it, one moment at a time. Live Fierce and Free- or die trying.

  4. i still miss Boo. i like Neo but i miss Boo too. i knew her longer through stories and illustrations than i did in person. it was a joy the moment i met her.

  5. Margaret Chandler 16. Mar, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I also know the feeling of losing our beautiful babies/companies/family members. I sent you a text message stating that my Ms. Oreo and Ms. Fluffy are now playing with your Ms. Boo in cat heaven and they are looking down at us. They had the best life filled with so much love. I also made a memorial page for my Ms. Oreo with a candle burning in her memory. They will always be in my heart and memories forever. I hope you got my text message.