This is a eulogy for a furry little soulmate who I love with all my heart. It’s hard to put into words how important Oscar has been to me over the last 18 years. Yesterday, he physically left this world but he will be alive in my heart as long as I live. He was my baby, my confidante, my mainstay. He laid next to me if I was sick, he snuggled with me at night, he purred so loud it made me laugh, and he kept me company whatever I was doing. He was, in short, the pet version of the love of my life.
Oscar entered my life when I was feeling vulnerable and isolated. I was working on my doctorate and every spare moment (or most of them, anyway!) was spent working my way through the data to tell a story that was good enough to snag me a PhD. He was a 2-year old beauty with clear blue eyes, the softest cream-colored fur I’d ever felt, and the most striking apricot-colored points I had seen. There was an instant connection – from the first, we seemed to love each other – it was kismet.
When he was younger, he was up for anything, as long as we were together. We flew on airplanes, rode in cars, travelled long distances together, and moved three times. We played with lots of cat toys and learned to read each others’ minds. When I was at work or traveled, I wondered what he was doing and whether he was okay. When I returned home, we were inseparable. He would lay on the desk as I sorted through the data and, at the appropriate time, tell me it was time for a break. We’d have treats and play with a few toys and relax for a while.
As he got older, we had fewer adventures and more quiet time. He still laid next to me while I worked and begged for treats (which he always got). He loved to lay under the Christmas tree, disrupt anything that was taking my attention from him, and increasingly wanted to be held. He was beautiful and had the sweetest little “meow” I’d ever heard.
The past year was challenging, as I could see him really start to decline. His activities were more limited and he slowed down. He used ramps to get to his window perch and onto the bed – you could see in his face that he took great pride in being independent. Over the last couple of months, he relied on me to pick him up or help him down from higher spaces – he didn’t like going up and down the ramps anymore. That’s when I knew we would not be together much longer. In his last week, he ate and drank less and less. He wanted to be held constantly. On Monday night, I asked him for a sign that he was ready to go and he did something he had never done before that showed that he was ready and didn’t really want to fight anymore. The vet came to the house, let him peacefully go and then took him away.
I have not cried so much in … forever? Though I know in my head I did the right thing, my broken heart is not as sure. His love for me and mine for him was unconditional and so strong. It was special and unique.
I will go on to love another pet – I know I will. And they will be special and beautiful and sweet. I’ll tell them my secrets and snuggle with them. And yet, Oscar will always be my extraordinary one. In many ways, he was my first (pet) love – the one who grabbed my heart and built a permanent space there. I didn’t expect that when I adopted him 18 years ago, but that’s what happened. You never forget those special loves that you experience in life, whether they are people or pets. I’m happy that he will be with me forever because I could never really let him go.