Last night our little family suffered the tragic loss of our cat Samson. Aside from being my almost constant companion for the past 7 years, he was also the 4th ever reader of this website. Like all good pets, he was a huge part of our family, and his presence made our house a home.
We last saw him alive last night at 6:30 as he headed out for an evening of patrolling the yard for mice. By 9:30 when he hadn’t returned, things seemed a bit weird as this was not part of his routine. He thought he was a dog and always came when called. At 1:00 AM this morning, I awoke and he still wasn’t back, so I decided that since he was way overdue, I’d best have a look for him.
I found him in our backyard, under his favorite bush. When the flashlight first passed over him, I hoped he was asleep, but knew it was worse. He’d been hit by a car in our usually quiet neighborhood, and used his last bit of life to get to his little safe spot under the Japanese Maple where he used to hide out, seek shade from the summer sun, and take long afternoon naps.
I cradled him in my arms and carried him inside – talking to him – hoping he’d show me some sign that he was alive. We layed him on one of his favorite blankets, and said goodbyes that we’d never prepared for.
Samson as a baby…
I first met him at the local pound, where he was the last of his litter left in the cage. He was nothing more than a tiny prickly pin-cushion of 7 weeks, but clearly had some spunk. Soon after we got him home, we put him on this blue blanket – which he immediately fell in love with. He seemed so instantly content that in spite of my reservations about becoming a “cat person”, I knew that he was to be a great addition to my life.
Teresa and I stayed up most of the night crying and grieving, stunned by this unimaginable loss of our furry little friend. We comforted each other with stories of how he’d walk on our heads in the night to wake us up, and if we slept too long, he knew just how to jump on the bed so we’d have to get up to catch him. And we remembered how when he was cold or scared, he’d quietly snuggle up with us, eventually squishing us both over to one side of our kingsize bed.
I was working at the home office at the time, so we spent lot’s of time together and bonded quickly. He taught me how cool cats can be just by sitting on my feet as I worked at the computer, or sneaking up on me and pouncing on my back, climbing up my shirt hanging on only by his tiny claws – which usually dug into my back. Ouch. He soon decided that being outside was one of his favorite things – here he is at about 4 months old, just starting to discover the joys of nature.
Anyone who has lost a pet knows this feeling – one of the worst in the world. Personally I’m a believer in signs, and that things happen for a reason. When I felt at my lowest earlier today, I realized how lucky I am to have had in my life a pet like Samson, a little friend – who had such an effect on me. He made me laugh every single day with his crazy cat antics. He was just a cat, but he’s left a hole in our lives much bigger than even his huge personality.
He was the first cat Teresa ever knew, and although their beginning was tentative, and required many baby-steps, they became true friends, and Samson taught my wife what’s cool about cats – even if his 4:00 AM wake-up calls drove her nuts.
The daily reading of the morning paper – or more accurately reading the parts that Samson wasn’t sitting on or lying on. He had the uncanny ability to know just what sentence I was reading, then lay down exactly in that spot.
The scratchiness of a nail file always fascinated him, and never failed to get
him revved up for some playtime.
That cat could lay in front of the fireplace for hours at a time – just roasting away. The fire seemed to be his drug of choice.
That’s the thing about animals (and people) who are important in our lives – only when they’re not there anymore do you really know how much you loved them. So hug your pet today, and everyday, and same goes for the people you love – tell the people you love how much they mean to you.
Goodbye buddy – thanks for teaching us a few things about cats, and being a great friend – we’ll miss you lots.