Grief Is the Price We Pay For Love


Today we had to put down Tom.

He was my almost 11-year-old short haired tabby and the most loyal companion I have ever had.

It seems trite to say that losing a pet is like losing a member of the family. The fact is, though, it’s actually a gross understatement. Pets are unique and hold a special place in our hearts.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying that dogs or cats are more important or more valuable than other people in our lives. But they do trump humans in some ways.

For one thing, they love us unconditionally. And that’s more than I can say about many human companions.

Tom came into my life at a very tumultuous time.  At the time I adopted Tom, I was living in Pennington Gap.  I had just been hired at Elk Knob for my current job.   I came to Harlan on September 8, 2008 to pick him up from an old friend who had offered him to me.  I brought him home that night and within an hour I received the call that my best friend had been in a terrible accident and was being flown out to Holston Valley.  This started a very dark, sad and lonely stretch of my life.  My friend didnt make it.  I told Tom, who was just a baby kitten at that time that he could just be my new best friend…and he was.  He was always so content to just hang out with me.  Watch tv, watch me play video games, listen to music, it didnt matter, he was always just so happy, full of life and so much happiness that his eyes and soul emitted it.

That was the first of many life milestones Tom stood by me through.  We moved to Gate City a few weeks after Cecil passed and he was so little he would sit in the front seat of my Scion as I drove back and forth between Harlan and Gate City when we would visit on weekends. One night while we lived over there in the middle of the night I heard water running, I thought for sure I had a water leak somewhere.  It wasnt a water leak, it was Tom using the toilet!   He kept doing that until we moved back to Harlan in June of 2009.  He was always such a smart cat.

All through the work for my masters degree, Tom was right beside me.  All through the construction of my house, Tom was right there.  So many times in life, I couldnt count on a whole lot, but I always knew no matter what, that cat was going to be excited when I came home and he would want to hang out with me.

Tom comforted me when my Granny Opal passed away, when my uncle Stevie passed away and most recently the hardest one, when my dad passed away.   The day that my dad passed away, I had been strong all day.  I hadnt shown a lot of emotion, but as soon as I got home I collapsed onto my bed sobbing.  It wasnt a minute until Tom was by my side loving me, I wasnt petting him.  He was literally petting me.   I use to get so excited for Christmas break because that meant we could hang out all day.  We could watch tv, and just be pals.  He was my sidekick.

Over the past several weeks Tom had lost all mobility.  He could barely roll over.  In the end I am shocked that I was strong enoughto accept the fact that he was in pain, he wasnt going to get better and I was being selfish and to do the humane thing and have him put down.  Ive cried all evening and my house seems so empty (even though I have 3 other cats) .

I hope what I do on Earth pleases God and I am allowed into Heaven and assuming I do, I hope that my Tom is there with me.   He is the most pure, perfect soul I have ever met on this Earth.  The pain of losing a pet is worth the decade or more of love, memories and companionship they give you.  You left little paw prints on my heart Tom.  Thank you.


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