Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Reflection of Love

by Julie Coulter Bellon



Almost fourteen years ago, some friends of ours were giving away kittens. As a small family with three children, we thought it would be fun to have one. We chose one that was all black and took him home. All the way home we talked about names for our new addition. Our oldest son (who was four at the time) was really into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thought of one of his favorite characters in the TMNT movie named Casey and so we named our kitten Casey.

Casey was so tiny as a kitten that we had to help him up and down the stairs. His little paws couldn’t seem to reach far enough to propel his body anywhere at first. However, he quickly became quite mischievous and would wait around corners for my two year old daughter to come toddling down the hall, before he would jump out and scare her. One of his favorite pastimes was to wait under her bed for her to kneel down and say her prayers, and then he would run out and playfully attack her legs. Our youngest son was six months old and Casey didn’t much care for him at first, since he mostly just pulled his tail, but they quickly became friends as my son grew.

Casey was a loyal companion to the entire family. He was probably the smartest cat I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of cats. He instinctively seemed to know when someone needed a snuggle or a listening ear and he was always there. One time, after my oldest son had come home from second grade very discouraged over some problems with his friends, he pulled Casey close and said, “Mom, even if I never have any friends, I’ll always have Casey.”

Not that Casey’s life didn’t have its problems. When my grandfather died, we took his eighteen year old cat in and she didn’t like Casey at all. Casey did his level best to avoid her until she passed away four months after we got her. I don’t think Casey missed her much when she was gone, but I have to say he was quite patient while she lived with us.

And Casey was a very patient cat. Each time we brought home a new baby, he seemed to give me that look with a deep sigh that told me he might be thinking, “Are you serious? Another one to pull my tail?” But he never bit or clawed any of the children and was very, very sweet to each new baby.

His favorite thing to do was probably lie in the sun in his favorite spot in the living room to catch the best rays, but when so inclined, he could also do an awesome head butt or chase down anything that moved. And sometimes, if you looked at him just right, he seemed to be smiling. I loved that about him.

Last Friday, we watched as our beloved Casey took his last breaths. We held him and whispered our love for him in his ear, stroking his fur as he gently passed away. I think, in that moment, a little piece of my heart broke into a million pieces. I watched my oldest son, who is now eighteen and a pretty tough guy, cradle this little animal in his arms and say goodbye. There were lots of tears at Casey’s funeral, but some laughter, too, as we recalled some of our favorite memories of Casey.

I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to feel the unconditional love of a pet. It is so meaningful to have that sort of love and responsibility as you learn to care for one of God’s creatures and in return, have a little glimpse of God’s love. How wonderful it is to have a best friend who will listen to you no matter what time of day or night, who never tells you you’re silly or ridiculous for feeling the way you do, and always seems happy to see you---no matter what you look like or what mood you’re in.

Our house feels a little emptier without Casey in it, but while it’s hard to say goodbye for now, the memories of our sweet cat and what he meant to each of us will not be forgotten.


16 Comments:

At 5/29/2008 11:46 AM, Blogger Jennie said...

Julie, I'm sorry your Casey is gone. I like cats in general, but there have been a few over the years like your Casey who have seemed to have an extra capacity to love, to comfort, and be a dear friend. Some people feel that way about dogs and I've known some special dogs, but having grown up with working dogs I have a hard time with allowing dogs in the house or driving around with one in the car--the first time I stayed at a house where the dog sat under the table while the family ate I couldn't eat. To me having the dog in the house made as much sense as inviting the cow into the house. I've mellowed on that score over the years, but I still have the fondest memories of some very bright, loving cats.

 
At 5/29/2008 1:18 PM, Blogger Sue said...

Awwww.... I'm sorry for the loss of your pet.

 
At 5/29/2008 1:22 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

I remember when my cat died. My parents had found her (or rather, she had found us) a few months before I was born, so I grew up with her. She even moved with us. And then, when I was 17, she died. It was one of the saddest days of my life. I guess one of the cruelest things was that my parents didn't let us get another cat (or any other pet). That was a very sad summer.

 
At 5/29/2008 1:25 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Julie, I'm so sorry! It's hard to lose a loved one, whether of the two- or four-footed variety.

Robert Louis Stevenson said, "You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."

Surely this applies to cats as well. After all, somebody has to keep the dogs in line!

 
At 5/29/2008 3:30 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Kerry, thank you so much for that quote. It was very sweet and I agree about the cat/dog thing. :)

Sarah, I'm sorry about the loss of your cat, and it made me smile when I read that your cat found you. I hope we don't have a sad summer like you did. :(

Sue, thank you.

Jennie, you nailed it on the head. Casey really did have "an extra capacity to love, to comfort, and be a dear friend." I will miss him dearly.

Thank you all for your comments. It means a lot to me.

 
At 5/29/2008 7:00 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

My heart goes out to you Julie. We lost one of ours over Christmas and it was painfully sad. I don't think my wife has gotten over it. =(

On the one hand, cats are such independent creatures (unlike dogs) but they clearly have affection for their humans. They are very quick to forgive slights, like when we accidentally kick them rounding a corner, or sit on their tails. Truly, they are amazing creatures, and we are blessed to have them in our lives.

Now, if we could just get a dog...

 
At 5/29/2008 7:23 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Jon, you are so right about cats. I just love how each on has such a unique personality. My husband had dogs growing up, so we actually do have a dog, too, and I think they definitely have an entirely different way of loving, if that makes sense. And as much as I love our pets, I am still a cat person overall. Isn't that funny how that is?

Thank you so much for your comment. I'm sorry about the loss of your cat, too.

 
At 5/29/2008 7:40 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

This post and the comments that have followed have made me reflect on a recent post on my own site. Perhaps I have misunderstood and/or misread my feline companions. Perhaps they are the loving, forgiving creatures Julie and Jon portray them to be. Perhaps what I have perceived as contempt for humanity is simply their way of . . . what? Nope. I don't buy it. Sorry, Julie. Your cat was an angel, but likely an abberation. Mine are definitely aligned with the dark side -- true Catwomen to my dog's Batgirl.

 
At 5/29/2008 8:09 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Kerry, I'm not sure what to say to that except that heaven most likely sends us the pets we were always meant to have. *wink wink*
And apparently you were meant to have a cat who walks on the fringes of the dark side. Perhaps to balance his human's innate goodness? :-)

 
At 5/29/2008 10:31 PM, Anonymous Hilary Blair said...

So Im usually just a lurker but I had to comment on your blog...

I'm really sorry about your kitty! I think I generally relate more to dogs, however, my BEST friend is a small gray cat. So I really connected to you about talking to your kitty and him always listening. I bet its super hard, but Im glad you guys could remember the good times too :o)

 
At 5/29/2008 10:49 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Hilary, thank you so much for your comment. I'm glad to find others out there who relate to talking to a cat. :-)

 
At 5/30/2008 12:36 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Julie, I'm sorry about the loss of your beloved cat.

 
At 5/30/2008 2:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ruff. Ruff

Ly

 
At 5/30/2008 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when he would attack me. I was scared to say my prayers. Ah i love that cat!!
Lauren

 
At 5/30/2008 5:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm late getting in on this but have to put this in. After our dear cat left us (yes, I still use euphenism after 6 years) my husband looked at the eyes of his two daughters and wife and pulled out his card file for a special family home evening. He used an article by Hugh W. Nibley, "Man's Dominion" from the Oct. 1972 New Era, page 24. to show us the eternal nature of all living things (well, let me rephrase that--of all things that have and do live). Not only did it help us feel better about our cat but helped us understand the eternal nature of everything and gain a little more reverence for our world, etc. This article is available on LDS.org.

Second, as a true cat and dog (I'm really attached to cats, dogs can look too sad, but I put that in for Kerry and her group) lover, I do express my sympathy to you and the family. Pets with their personalities can't be replaced, but you can find some with new idiosyncracies in adoptees that add a new dimension to our love for the species. I know--we got two more cats and as our daughters make fluttering moves from our nest, our cats are a sweet, sweet diversion.

Marlene Austin

 
At 5/30/2008 7:28 PM, Blogger Keith Fisher said...

Sorry for your loss, We lost a cat last year and we still miss her. We got another cat and I still call the new cat by the old cat's name. It's so sad to lose a family member like that. I will keep your family in my thoughts.

 

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