(Lorin and Bernie at PetSmart)
I’ve been missing Bernie terribly today. He was the last kitty we adopted–in April 2016. Lorin saw him at the adoption center at our local Petsmart and said, “You have to meet him.” We already had four cats, so it seemed nutty, even for me, but I went with Lorin on a Saturday to meet Bernie.
Love at first sight. As it was with my Lorin.
They were two peas in a pod.
Everyone loved Bernie, but no one wanted to adopt him, because he was fat. They were afraid he had diabetes or some other illnesses and didn’t want to be burdened with a sick feline. Understandable. One of the foster cat ladies named Chris told us that before he landed at Petsmart, Bernie was in a pound. Apparently his owner had died. He had matted fur on his back that had to be shaved off. It was still growing back, and rather coarse. He had been in the foster system for several months. Chris said we could take him for a week and bring him back if he didn’t get along with our other cats. Of course, we kept him.
He was shy, but loving. He had a favorite red sherpa blanket that he dragged around the house and even brought down to the basement, when Lorin was working there. Lorin’s office was in the basement. Sometimes Lorin helped him drag it down. Bernie talked to his blanket and gathered lots of toys around him. He seemed to need security. We wondered if he had been abused.
Karl adored him, and they started to sleep on the guest room bed together.
(Karl and Bernie)
Bernie eventually moved from his “safe space” upstairs and started playing with the other cats. One of his favorite games was musical chairs, played at the dining room table. Karl seemed hurt when Bernie migrated downstairs and engaged in play with Quincy and Samson.
I have grieved over Lorin, but have been unable to grieve for my cats. On one hand, I felt guilty for grieving over my pets, grotesque even, in light of the loss of my beloved husband. On the other hand, I had no space in my mind and heart for more sadness. The pain of losing Lorin was enough.
But today I was able to grieve for Bernie. Like all my lost pets, he is worth grieving for. I wish I didn’t have to grieve any losses, but there they are. I will never forget the image of Lorin lying dead, nor will I forget the image of Sylvester and Bernie struggling to get up after the accident. I was helpless, useless, unable to save them. I didn’t see Quincy, Karl or Samson, and assumed they were dead.
These images still haunt me and weigh heavily upon my shredded heart.
I still fantasize about Lorin walking through the front door.
Lorin found Bernie and wanted him to be part of our family. I am happy we adopted him and that he had a loving home for even the brief time he did.
If I have learned anything from this, it is that every moment counts, as trite as it sounds. Love the people and animals you love, unreservedly. Don’t take anyone or anything for granted. Love is all.