Romeo, o Romeo, Wherefore?
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
A lament for a cat. Not my cat, but a cat to whom I gave much in the way of scritches, when his human, Amanda, was roommates with my then girlfriend. And then over the next few years when I'd go visit his human, and his other human, Erich. He was a great source of calm and comfort during those early grad school days in 2003-2004, and he had a nice long life, until last week, when he passed away.
I haven't seen Amanda in the 6 years since I moved away from Madison, WI, and it's possible I hadn't petted Romeo in the last 8 or 9 years, but I mourned her cat anyway. But when it came to expressing the sorrow, on facebook, all I could offer was a lame, "He was a cool cat". Which kind of highlighted the fact that I'm not particularly good with condolences, especially on line. I mean, if it were face to face, I could offer a hug, maybe a few scritches to Romeo's brother, Hobbes, who I totally had a hand in naming (I mentioned the Calvin and Hobbes collection, "Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat" to Amanda, when he turned out to be a rambunctious kitty soon after she brought him home), and we'd move on. On line? It's more like, "My sympathies", or "My condolences", or "I'm sorry for your loss". And that's when it comes to people losing their family members, meaning human family members. Though I love animals, no matter how much they make me sneeze (allergies), and understand that people can get attached to their pets just as much as their human family members, I still find it difficult to equate the losses, and as such, find it awkward to even offer those awkward, inadequate words when people post about losing their cats, or their dogs, or their beloved parakeets.
Maybe it's because beyond a very short lived rabbit when I was barely old enough to remember it, and a wild turtle we found in the backyard and let go at the Arboretum a couple weeks later when he wouldn't eat anything, the only pets I've ever had were goldfish? I'm not really sure, but I suspect I'm not alone in this.
I also suspect that the words don't really matter, not in this day and age, that we're comforted by the acknowledgment of our pain, especially when sharing that loss via social media. I assume there's research on this, and I might even look that up. Regardless of what those studies say, I'm still going to feel like I'm lacking when the next friend relays their sad news that a puppy that's been their kid's steadfast companion since the child was born has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.