Peace in the Parting
In 2019, I asked Williamson County Animal Shelter if they could give me a couple of barn cats. I took 2 cats home in plastic boxes with no idea of their color, sex, or disposition. I was told they had zero socialization and didn’t know each other at all. The animal shelter employee said, “Good luck” and handed me instructions on “what to do WHEN your barn cat runs away.” As I carried the boxes to my car, I thought, “What am I doing?!!”
That’s how Finn and Oliver came to be the Colony Cats. The inferred prediction of how they would do in their new home was completely wrong. OK, it took a year for them to settle, but these two cats have brought joy, wonder, and many photo opportunities to writers. And to me, they brought love in a time I needed it most. I thought they would live forever. Surely, the universe knew we couldn’t make it without them.
And then the world shifted and Finn was gone. He died on September 28- suddenly, shockingly. At 3:30pm, we were at the vet. At 5:00pm, I was digging a grave.
To be honest, this loss feels incredibly hard. Finn taught me how to be a cat person after a lifetime of being solely a dog person. He showed me that sometimes being aloof and distant didn’t necessarily mean being unbonded. He knew where he belonged and he knew he was loved. He greeted writers upon arrival. He sat with them on the front porch in the morning sunlight. If you were very lucky, Finn would lean into you and rub his head on your arm. With me, he would bite my hair – a sign of ownership.
As I try to put meaning into a very raw event, I struggle, but whatever powers there are to remind me of past joys won’t desist. I remember the times Finn followed me up the trail, meowing the whole way as if to say, “Why do we have to go up here?” I remember the places Finn would doze during the day – on top of the grill, in the wheelbarrow, on the worktable in the garage, under the bench on the back deck. I remember his distinct meow, shorter and higher than Oliver’s, and how he would tell me he was coming when I called his name. In those memories, I can find a settled peace.
We can’t replace Finn, but we can rescue other barn cats and give them a home and not take for granted the holiness of every small life. That’s the lesson here, I think. Every small life matters. Every small love expands beyond the borders of its contained body. That’s the way love works. Writers who know the value of words know also the value of spirit. I was blessed knowing Finn’s unique personality and doubly blessed by his love.
Goodbye, Finny. We will remember you.