Farewell to a Friend

By | February 15, 2018
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Introduction

Many of you have pets, and if you have a pet you know what a stressful time it can be when your pet is sick – especially when the sickness can’t be cured. Every day you have to prepare yourself for the worst – and you have to face that you may have to make that really difficult decision to end the pet’s suffering. It’s a hard time full of difficult days and nights. My pet cat is sick – she has inoperable cancer. But she’s my buddy – she still curls up with me and we “watch” TV. She is not in any pain, but you can tell she’s not herself. She is hanging on. Now there’s a sadness that pervades everything around here as we wait for the inevitable… but hope it doesn’t come soon. I’m sure if you ever lost a pet to long and serious illness you know how difficult it can be

Her sickness reminded me of another little friend of mine who died almost twelve years ago, on September 22, 2006. I wrote this essay the day after that – the day after my little friend died.

So for both my little furry friends, and for every one of you who has a pet or pets they love, we are republishing this 2006 essay entitled “Farewell to a Friend”.

We hope you enjoy reading it.


Farewell to a Friend

On a gloomy, peaceful, August morning I laid my little friend to rest.

It was raining and that seemed fitting. Like tears from a saddened sky the raindrops fell on me as I carried my little friend to his final resting place. The rain kept falling as I laid him to rest and my thoughts drifted back to happier times.

When my youngest son was nine years old, he was going through a difficult time in his life, as many kids do at that age. He didn’t have many friends then, but he was a bright and loving child, who loved people and wanted people to love him. He didn’t have a mean bone in his little body.

I thought then, that perhaps a pet would be good for him. Something he could take care of and love. We found a kitten – on a farm – just a little tabby cat. My son fell in love with the little fella. So, we took him home. My son named him “Cody”. That was sixteen years ago.

I was never a cat lover. I didn’t hate cats, I just never much cared for them. But I do love animals of all kinds. I guess I have always thought of cats as sneaky critters. I was about to learn something about cats.

When we brought Cody home, he was a bundle of energy as most kittens are. Slowly, as he got used to his new surroundings he began to develop his own personality. I can’t tell you the number of times he did things that made me laugh. He used to have a rather “DUH!” look about him, but I think underneath that blank-eyed stare he was pretty intelligent. After a few years he had us trained pretty well.

As my son grew, Cody became more and more a part of the family. During my son’s difficult times in fourth and fifth grade, Cody was his friend and brightened his days. They became very good and loyal friends.

Kevin and I used to kid around later that Cody was more like a dog than a cat. Who ever heard of cat that came when you called him? Cody did. And, Cody could sleep with the best of them. Anytime. Anywhere. We used to joke that when Cody passed away, we’d just think he was sleeping. We didn’t realize then, how prescient that “joke” would be.

Cody was more than a cat, he was part of my son’s life; he was part of my life. He was part of sixteen Christmases; and he became a part of each day, for sixteen years. When I’d go away for a day or two and come back, I would come to expect him to be sitting there by the door (it didn’t matter which door I chose to come in, he somehow always guessed right) waiting.

Cody grew up with my son and became part of his life. And because he was part of my son’s life, he was part of my life too. And, after my son left for college, Cody and I became even closer.

Well, I don’t know if a cat can really become “close” to someone, but I think so. He was everything a pet is supposed to be: Loving, gentle, funny, and loyal. And, I’ll tell you: he lived his life like a king. Cody even had his own lawn chair. I set up “his chair” in the garage during the warm seasons just so he could sit and look out at the world on spring, summer and autumn days – and watch the world go by. He used to like to watch the kids walk by after school; he loved watching the cars pass – he just enjoyed watching the world go by.

Cody also spent plenty of summer days sleeping under bushes too. He loved to lay in the shade, on a hot summer day, and sleep. Some days he would sleep under “his” bush, in the shade for an entire day. Whenever we couldn’t find him, we knew exactly where to look – under the bushes in the front of the house. It sort of made me jealous that he could sleep so well, anytime, anywhere!

Time flew by and my son grew up and Cody grew up right along side him. I watched them grow together; I watched them play together; I watched them become friends. Kevin loved Cody and Cody loved Kevin.

Then, one day it happened: My son left home to go to college and couldn’t take Cody with him. They don’t allow pets in dorms, at least not at his university. It was really a hard time for me when he left for school. I can remember crying all the way home the day I dropped him off. It was the first time he had ever been away from home for any extended period of time – and the house seemed so achingly empty and dark when I got back home.

But, I think it was just as hard on Cody as it was on me – and that’s saying a lot. For weeks Cody acted as forlorn and heartbroken as I felt. He didn’t eat with his normal gusto; he didn’t sleep under the bushes on warm days – in fact he hardly went outside at all. He just roamed around the house, looking lost and sad. It looked for all the world like he was searching and searching all over the house for his buddy and couldn’t ever find him. Cody and I shared a common bond in those days. We both missed Kevin dearly.

After Kevin left, Cody would lay on my son’s bed for hours and hours each day. And that was something he rarely did when my son was home; except when it was time for my son to go to bed – but that’s another story. And that memory still makes me laugh!

When my son was in grade school, Cody would always want to go to bed with him. But my son didn’t necessarily want the cat going to bed with him. Well that was because Cody would lay right next to him, and I mean RIGHT next to him – and my son was a “tosser and turner”. He was always afraid he would roll over on Cody and hurt him. I think Cody was faster than that, but still, my son was always concerned that he’d toss and turn and end up hurting Cody. Be that as it may, it was extremely difficult to keep Cody from getting in my son’s bedroom every night. Cody might have looked dumb, but he sure wasn’t – he could outwit us – at least when it came to getting in my son’s bedroom.

Every night when I said goodnight to my son, the word “Goodnight” became a signal for Cody to come scurrying into my son’s bedroom as fast as he could from wherever he was. This set off a series of complicated maneuvers, as we tried to outsmart the cat and keep him out of the bedroom. We tried all sorts of things to trick Cody so that my son could go to bed and I could shut the door before Cody found a way back in the room again.

Now, Cody might have had that “the lights are on but nobody’s home” look about him, but he was smart. No doubt about that.. He began to understand that we were going to keep him out of my son’s bedroom and he wasn’t going to be allowed to stay in the room all night. I can’t even count the number of times I would pick him up and haul him out of my son’s bedroom so my son could go to sleep. It got to the point where he would scurry into the room as soon as he heard the word “Goodnight” and hide under the bed; under the very center of the bed – just out of my reach. And I swear he looked at me from under the bed as I tried to grab him and smirked. Now cats can’t smirk, but I swear I saw him smirking at me.

So, we (hopefully), being a little smarter than Cody, started saying the word “Goodnight” a little before bedtime but we’d say it from another part of the house. We would say it VERY loud too!. And, Cody, would, as scheduled, run off into the bedroom and wait. However, my son wasn’t there, I wasn’t there, the room was empty. After a little while, Cody realized he’d been fooled and would come moseying back out and looking for us. My son would then quickly go to bed and I’d quietly say goodnight to him with the door closed, and I, knowing Cody would be right outside the bedroom door (he caught on to this little ruse after a few days) carefully opened the door, put my hand down in front of Cody’s face to block his path, leave my son’s bedroom and shut the door behind me. Cody, bewildered by all these machinations, would lay down in the hallway, right outside my son’s bedroom door and wait for any opportunity to present itself so he could gain entrance to this now forbidden room.

But, children grow up and go on with their lives.

My son left for college and Cody was left bewildered and lonesome for him for a long time. But, even for cats, life goes on and after quite some time had passed he grew accustomed to this his situation. And, I became his friend. I fed him, I gave him water, I talked to him, I cared for him, I petted him and I played with him. So, after my son left, Cody sort of became “my” cat. Yes, me, the one who never thought much of cats, now had a cat I loved. I was his friend and he was mine.

My son left for college seven years ago and is now a graduate student. Cody was just past his sixteenth birthday. Age had taken its toll on the once energetic cat. He moved slower, he ate less, and he slept more – the mischievous gleam had long since left his mysteriously yellow eyes. But, he wasn’t sick. He had always been cared for very well. Even until the last morning of his life, when I got up and made coffee, he’d greet me with a “meow” and follow me around until I finally gave in and petted him. And, (this may sound strange) but I would always carry on a conversation with him in the morning. And though, I’m positive that he didn’t understand what a word I was saying (and I don’t think he really cared what I was saying) he’d look up at me with those big yellow eyes as if he did; and that’s all that mattered to me. He knew I was talking to him. We became “old” friends in more ways than one.

One Saturday, near the end of August, I realized that I hadn’t seen Cody all day – not since “our” morning coffee. But that was not unusual. It had been a warm summer day, and that usually meant that Cody had sought out his favorite bush and fallen asleep in its shade.

But, as darkness fell that day, I became concerned and went out to look for him. It had started to drizzle and it was very unusual for Cody to remain outside in the rain. As darkness was falling, I went out and looked for my friend. I found him. Under a bush, apparently sleeping. But he wasn’t moving. He wasn’t breathing. He had died in his sleep at the age of 16 years and a few days. I thought it was fitting that this gentle, loving cat, had died peacefully in his sleep – and that’s the best any of us can hope for.

I went in the house and alone in the dark I cried. I cried for my friend of 16 years who had become so much a part of my life. It was hard to believe that he wasn’t going to be in the kitchen with me the next morning as I made coffee with him under my feet. It seemed strange that a man who once didn’t like cats, was heartbroken over the loss of one.

On Sunday morning, I buried my friend. The morning brought a glooming peace with it. And, as I shoveled the the last bit of dirt on top of the small box which was Cody’s coffin, a single tear ran down my cheek. The rain fell lightly and silently. And on this peaceful, dark, gloomy morning I buried my old friend. I never ever imagined that I would cry over a cat. Cody was not just a cat. He was my friend. And, it’s a hard thing to do when you have to say your final farewell to an old friend.

Farewell, Cody. I will miss you. I really will.

11 thoughts on “Farewell to a Friend

  1. Margaret Mitchell

    What a lovely story & how well you told it . I ended up crying for Cody too as I had the same experience several years ago with my darling Dusty …..we had her for 16 years, same as you, & found her under a bush too. I was starting a new job at the local University that Morning, & trying to learn a new job routine while crying all the time became a little difficult altho’ my new employers were very sympathetic, thank goodness. I never did get another cat ….. there will never be another like her, not for me anyway. My Dusty was almost human…. she literally did ‘talk’ to me & knew exactly what I was saying …. she even looked so sad if I was scolding her for something. Oh dear, there I go again…. tears running down my face, so will end my story here. Keep your memories like I have ….. & thank you for yours.

    Reply
  2. Sylvia Kendalls

    I have had to say goodbye to so many beloved pets over the years, and it never gets any easier, no matter how many times it happens. Dogs, cats, hamsters, goldfish, horses, birds. All have moved into then out of my life, each bringing their unique characters and quirks with them and each taking a part of my heart with them when they left. Thank you for your story. So heartwarming although ultimately sad.

    Reply
  3. Janice M

    Oh how I know your feelings! I rescued and found homes for many, many cats over the years, tho after finding newborns under what had been a brush pile, I knew the last four wouldn’t survive because their mama did not come back for them. So I literally became their mama, bottle feeding, cleansing, etc. Two did not survive, but two of them DID! One was my mon’s and brother cat was more my baby all these years.

    He was 20 years old and I could see his age and thyroid/kidney issues would mean an end to his journey soon so I bought an urn knowing the end was near tho he still seemed to at least enjoy baby food since the vet said, “…whatever he’ll eat, just let him>”

    At the time, I wasn’t feeling the best, took a fall and spent the night on the floor and HE stayed by me, licking my face and softly talking to me. By mid morning, the next day I was able to find my phone, call 911. I spent over a month hospitalized, but I knew my baby would be miserable so a family member arranged to bring my sweet boy to the hospital so we could say our farewells. (It’s been almost a year now but, I’m still really heartbroken and sobbing as I type this We loved each other so very much and that sweet, beautiful fella loved me unconditionally. When I leave this world, he’ll be with me as I’m laid to rest. He too, was as close to human as possible!

    To You and Margaret, thanks for sharing with me!

    Jan

    Reply
  4. John O'

    Very well written story about your pet, I had a cat named Boy wonder and was my buddy and he had cancer where he would just lay there and look bad and his hair was not looking good and I had to put him down for he was suffering and it was very hard to do that but was the best for him at that time, my heart goes out to you.

    Reply
  5. Linda Brunetto

    I am so sorry that you and your baby are going through this. I know how heartbreaking it is, I have walked this road to many times. I adopt older dogs so I go through this more often than I would like, but someone needs to love them as well, and I think of it as the price of love. I have their ashes and they are waiting for me, we will be together and I know they are waiting for me on the other side.

    Reply
  6. Madeline E. Ross

    I also have my precious cat, sassy..she was only 7 months old when my grand daughter gave her to me…she just celebrated her third birthday feb. 2nd……..I didn’t want a cat!!..but in these 3 years I could not do without her….every night she sleeps with me right up close, close enough that I cannot turn around in bed….but I love it…….I have a few small toys for her but her favorites are just about a yard of ribbon tied to a little toy at the end of each one……..every morning she brings me up one of her toys…..lays it on my bed, or by my feet when I am at the computer……she loves to go to the window (she has never been outside) to look at the birds and squirrels in the trees and if they get out of site she is smart enough to go to the other bedroom window to catch another glimpse of them………….she keeps me company and sits on my lap or right beside when we watch t.v., or follows me down to the basement and waits till I do the wash, or is right by the door when I come home from shopping…she has sat on my computer keys and messed me up, and since I am not too clever with the computer I have to wait till one of my family visits and gets it right again for me…………in the kitchen she jumps up onto the cabinet and then up on top of the fridge to look out the window while I am making dinner……..she is with me constantly and I love it…..I call her my second layer of skin…………………I dread the day if I would lose her………in plain words I love her !!!!!

    Reply
  7. Jason Miller

    Several years ago, Callie showed up at our home with her 1 kitten. His eyes were not even open yet. We don’t know why she chose our home to camp out at but she would not leave. I love cats so I had to feed her. At first she would move away from me and hiss at me. Every day I would sit there and talk to her and soon she got used to me and, after a while, let me handle her kitten. One day, the kitten came into the house and discovered a comfortable chair. He decided it was better that the outside and would not leave. His mother stood outside and meowed for him to come out and, when he did not, came in looking for him. She curled up in the chair with him and she decided to stay also.
    Fast forward to 8 months later, we adopted out the kitten and kept the mother, Callie. We called her that because she is a tan and black calico medium hair cat.
    Since then, we have become the best of friends. She follows me from room to room. If I sit on my recliner chair she always jumps up and sleeps between my knees. She sleeps on a chair in our bedroom every night looking at me until I turn the lights out. If I go to another room and am looking for her all I have to do is call out “Callie. Where are you?” She comes running. I mean running and meowing to let me know she is on the way. She never leaves the house. Even if I leave the door open.
    Comes the day that something should ever happen to her, I would be devastated. I never thought I could love an animal as much as I love this cat. I have been retired with a heart condition for many years now and my wife still has a few years to go before retirement. Callie has been by my side all day, every day. I can’t imagine the emptiness I would feel without her all day. Nobody can truly feel what you feel when you lose a pet that you love unless they have lost one also. It’s almost as bad as losing a spouse or a child. You can get that close.

    Reply
  8. MaryLee

    Me, too. I’m so sorry for your loss, and I do know how you, and so many others feel. My Onny (Onyx) was 19 years old, and I had her for 18 years. The staff at the vet’s office were so very nice to her, and to me. They sent me a nice card which they all signed, with a little kitty paw-shaped “patch” of plantable wildflower seeds, so I can plant them and remember her year after year.

    Reply
  9. David Norcott

    Wonderful; touching letter !!! — been there; — done that more than once ; but — it hardly seems fair to bring a tear to an old man’s face again !!! We now have another cat and dog — once they have shared your life, it’s hard to be without them ! SOOOO —
    David.

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