Letting Go is Really, Really Hard to Do

By isak, October 31, 2019

The cat named Goose

It’s been more than a decade and a half since that late Friday afternoon when a skinny, white kitten walked out of the woods across the street from my house just talking, talking. What exactly he was saying, I am not sure, but he was talking and walking towards me. When he was just a few feet from me, two of my dogs, LeRoy and Lily, rushed the fence. This kitten, not knowing there was a wire fence to hold them back, quickly retreated back  into the woods.

The woods were thick so, fearing I would just scare him further into it, I sat by the side of the road and tried to “meow” back at him. He was vocally quite responsive. After about 20 minutes of back-and-forth “conversation,” he stepped out of the woods and walked to me. I quickly scooped him up and brought him into my house.

He was white with pale orange accents on his ears, nose, head and tail, and beautiful blue ears. Quite the looker with a matching confident personality. Back then, there were not many homes or people out here, so I have no idea where such a young kitten came from. Nor do I know how a white cat survived in the woods alone. He certainly stood out from the colors of the woods.

I named him Gustavus. I can’t remember why anymore, but it became shortened to Goose early on and he became the cat named Goose.

Goose passed away two Sunday mornings ago, October 20. In just a couple days, he stopped eating and grew quickly weaker. He passed away Sunday morning a few hours after I got up. I’m so glad he waited for me and that I was with him when he left on his next journey.

Murph the Smurf

Murph the Smurf

In August, another one of my cats, Murphy, did not appear at the late night feeding I do for the outside cats as a way of making them be here, stay inside their fenced yard. They do not much like being inside except on occasion of bad weather. I think that is the case — not wanting to be inside — for cats who spend a lot of time outside. And when I see one of them go racing across the yard at top speed making grand leaps over the pond or wood piles or even other cats, I understand their love of that freedom. But there was no sign of Murphy the next day or the next. I wrote the date on my bathroom mirror as a kind of connection to him. He was just a month older than two years. and quite full of himself. A brave-hearted guy who never recognized danger as anything except a temporary interference to his plans.

At a few months old, he fled up a tree to escape some dogs not yet realizing they were his own dogs. Then he got stuck which was no wonder. He was about 30-35 feet up the tree! Over the next couple hours, I was able to coax him down to about 20 feet at which point he thought that perhaps he could climb out on a tree limb that extended over the house. The branch got quite thin towards the end over the house, but he did not seem to notice. So I quickly moved the ladder from the tree to the house and climbed up on the roof to see what I might do. Frankly, there was nothing I could do, so I abandoned that attempt. Long story short and a couple hours later, he made it to a branch close to the trunk that I could finally reach from the top of the ladder where I snagged him and brought him back to earth!

That’s pretty much how Murphy lived his life… one adventure after another. I last saw Murphy at dinner on August 25, 2019.

Angel Pie

Angel Pie

It’s been over 1330 days since I last saw Angel Pie, a feral cat who came to be a distant part of the family. She lived in the back of my property. I built a small shed for her and also placed a cat igloo out for her. She was there for breakfast and dinner every day… until she became ill and died. The vet thinks she may have eaten something that was poisonous. By the time she died, she was blind and possibly deaf from whatever was ravaging her body. She died here at my house as I was finally able to catch her and take her to the vet, but it was too late.

A few days after she died, I quit smoking and, as a way to mark my progress, I wrote how many days it had been on my bathroom mirror: 1, 2, 3, etc. Eventually, I changed the number only on Sundays. As the number got bigger, it became a good reason to not smoke as I would have to start the count over again. But also over time, it became a link back to Angel. It came to represent how long it has been since I last saw her. The count right now is 1333. That means it’s been over 1333 days since I lost my little Angel Pie; 190 weeks or over 3 1/2 years.

Time just keeps moving on, doesn’t it?

I’m thinking it’s time to wipe the mirror clean. Erase these numbers. Plug those holes in my heart. But in some unexplainable way, these numbers are like strings that connect me to them. And it’s that letting go that is so really, really hard to do.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

My life has been full of wonderful cats and dogs. You can see some of them here.


  1. LJT says:

    I can so much relate to Isak’s story about “Letting Go…”. I’ve been doing the TNR/rescue thing since 2013, though now that I think of it, I really have been more or less doing it all my life.
    I also occasionally pull out my “Those Who Touched My Heart and Left” book every now and then. I am always surprised at the number of them and how, over time, I even managed to momentarily forget some of them, even though they were often the ones who left the deepest scars(?). Maybe it’s my unconscious way of saving my sanity or I’d cry constantly. I don’t know. But each time I look at their pictures, I notice that although my eyes are filled and overflowing with tears, there is a smile on my lips as I remember our times together, no matter how brief.
    Sugar is one who comes to mind. She was a gray and white tabby, not too young though it’s often hard to tell. From what they go through out there, many cats look much older than their actual years. The females are breeding machines and the males fight and scrounge for food, territory and mates all the time. Each has his or her own form of hell.
    Sugar was one of those that I managed to trap. I thought she had a leg injury and so did the vet. But after a couple of weeks of antibiotics and other meds, the swelling seemed to increase rather than decrease. A change in meds was in order, yet after another couple of weeks, still no improvement. It was then that Dr. Scandaglia gave her another closer inspection and determined she was suffering from something I was not prepared to hear. He said she most likely had some form of cancer, probably of the bones. The treatment? I’m sorry some of you will disagree with my personal feelings on this, but after having had breast cancer in 2020 and getting the standard chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I am only more firmly set in my beliefs that it’s unfair to our pets to do that to them. In my very humble opinion, an animal that lives a much shorter life span than our own should never have to go through weeks of horrific torture only to prolong his/her life a few months or a year. I think much of our ‘trying our best’ for our fur-babies is due to selfishness. After my treatments ended, I kept thinking how I’d urged my father to take chemo, well knowing that he had terminal lung cancer and was already in a very weakened state (besides it being 1980, a time when pain control was barbaric at best). I came to realize that I had caused him even more pain than the cancer and I’d done it because I didn’t want to lose him, not because it was the best choice at the time. It wasn’t. If mine comes back, I’m not sure I’d do the treatments again…I’m just not sure. It is that bad (or was for me).
    When we mourn, we aren’t mourning for the one who’s gone, we’re mourning for ourselves. We feel guilty for all the moments we could have spent with them while they were alive yet we let the time slip past because we “were busy” or we “just didn’t feel like it” at the time. We feel sad because we know we will never get another chance. We feel angry because something we loved dearly was taken from us in a way we were unable to prepare for–at least not emotionally.
    So, when dear Dr. S explained the tests Sugar would have to have and the treatments and expense (which could have run into quite a bit if treatment was included), and made a point of reminding me that we didn’t even know how old Sugar was, I was forced to make “The Decision.” That’s the one all pet owners with any kind of a heart dread from the day they take their kitten or puppy home for the first time. I took no more than a few seconds to say three words in response. “Let’s do it,” I said to him. For the next few minutes as I prepared myself and the doctor prepared his stuff, I held Sugar close to me as I softly whispered in her ear. I told her how she was going to be young again and out of pain and reminded her of how great it was going to be to run free in the early springtime grass and how this was going to happen very soon and I would find her as soon as I got there.
    I named her Sugar because, although she was a feral cat (or used to be), she never once tried to scratch or bite me, even when I knew she was in pain. Sugar passed quickly, quietly and very peacefully into the next world. As she lay in my folded arms while I whispered constantly to her, she looked up at me and her eyes closed gently, and she was gone. The techs prepped her for me and I brought her home to bury her near where she was born and had lived her difficult life. In the short time I knew her I had grown to love her very deeply and will never forget her. I love you, Sugar! I think I always have….

  2. Belinda says:

    R.I.P kitty

  3. Belinda says:

    God bless ur heart,your a beautiful person I wish you and ur cats and dogs a long and happy life together.Peace be with you’s all the days of you’re lives together.Beautiful story a little sad but its life.

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