Our 14-Year-Old Baby

Winnie’s been spending more time outside in the past year than she ever used to (partly to get away from Riley when he’s been noisy). And so to help her beat the heat, I got her a summer ‘do:

She’s not totally shaved, but it’s a lot shorter and looks a lot neater. I can tell she feels better too, she’s been feisty this afternoon. I had thought it would make her look pathetic, but they did a great job. It actually looks just like her puppy coat used to. She looks all roly-poly.

Then there’s the other thing that makes her seem like a baby.


When Roxie didn’t come home Tuesday evening, a thousand scenarios started bubbling to the surface of my mind. The least palatable among them involved a group of three dogs I had seen running loose that day. I had barely noticed them, really, and didn’t think much of it at the time, but that night after I had given up walking around the neighborhood calling out for Roxie, I remembered seeing them. Winnie had been in the backyard barking a lot, which is usually triggered by dogs that she sees in the apartment complex behind our lot. I had looked out the window and seen that she was barking at some dogs in a neighbor’s yard instead. I remember thinking it was unusual, but it didn’t occur to me at the time that they were dangerous. Our neighborhood is very quiet and it’s rare to see dogs roaming it freely; when I have, they’ve been lost and I’ve helped them get home, so that was my mindset.

As the night wore on, I wanted desperately to believe that there was some other explanation for Roxie’s absence. And really, it wasn’t necessarily any more likely than most of the others I was entertaining. I applied a kind of enforced optimism, as best I could.

But yesterday morning I found Roxie’s body in the same yard where I had seen those dogs. Her coat blends in well with the fallen leaves, so I only spotted her from about five feet away. She had been torn open. I broke down. For the rest of the day I was a complete wreck. I can’t remember the last time I sobbed so hard. Indescribable rage and grief.

The guilt is the worst part, though; I keep thinking about things I might have done differently. Going out to investigate those dogs when I saw them. Looking more closely at them. Thinking. Having a brain in my @&%$ing head. Not letting the cat outside in the first place. I don’t rationally believe that there was any way I could have known, but as I’m throwing blame around at the world I’m getting plenty of it on my hands.

The whole thing is just so stupid. She deserved so much better than to be killed by a fluke.

She was the most amazing cat. So full of energy, so happy with her routine and her little world. I love her so much. She was a big part of our lives, we talked to her and about her all the time. My heart is broken, and every time I turn around I see something that makes me think of her.

We buried her in our backyard, with some of the things she loved most. We’ve marked off her grave with bricks for now, because that’s what we had on hand. The house feels so empty.

I hope you can understand why I’ve made this entry comment-free. Dwelling on it isn’t going to help me. I don’t want to cry all day again. I don’t have words for it, and I don’t expect anyone else to either. I know I always feel so useless and inept when I try to say something comforting to a grieving friend. Please know that I feel your compassion already, and that it means a lot to me, even though I’m not allowing comments in here.

Our cat is missing. There’s really nothing I can do about it, but knowing that doesn’t make the thought of going to sleep any more appealing.

She’s really only been unaccounted for since this afternoon, but she’s never stayed out overnight in her life. I’m sure tonight’s low of 29 degrees won’t kill her, but what worries me is that I know she would be home if she could be. She must be lost, injured, or both. I’ll go out looking tomorrow, when there’s daylight to do it by, and hang flyers around the neighborhood. For now I just need to put it out of my mind. (Not before posting this, though. When she strolls in tomorrow perfectly nonchalant, I want to remember how stupid I was for worrying. That is what I want to have happen.)

God, if I’m this bad over the cat, parenthood is going to destroy me.

We’re cat-sitting for a friend this week. Our guest, Maddie, is cute but hostile, with a surplus of kitten bravery drowning out the affectionate behavior that might be buried down in there somewhere. Our cat Roxie finds her very entertaining. They chase each other around all night, and then sleep all day. They’re pretty cute together. Having to deal with a litter box again is a hassle, but in a way it’s good to be reminded. It makes me appreciate Roxie all the more.