Grief: a 5-letter word that describes a facet of human emotion triggered by the loss of a loved one. How long grief lasts or how powerful its’ effects can’t be measured. For some, a loss is understandable, expected, perhaps only bittersweet. It’s a gentle feeling often accompanied by saying things like; “they’re in a better place” or “they’re no longer suffering.”
For me, after the loss of my cat Bob Dole, the grief comes in fierce waves; arriving not on tidal terms, but seemingly random ones that knock me to my knees. I don’t think Bob’s in a better place. Being with me was better. Now he’s just gone.
©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob.
Bob died a year ago today after suffering from multiple forms of cancer which ravaged his FIV+ body. He died at home, with his family at his side. After he passed I went into a deep depression. Bob was my last living link to my Mother and now that was gone.
Bob had amazing charisma. Everyone recognized it when they met him. The second they heard his name was Bob Dole, they laughed, charmed by his silly name. Once they spent even a few moments with him, I could see the look on their face soften to one of utter adoration.
Bob was the kind of cat you just loved the second you met him. The cat purred all the time—this goofy, burbly, purr. Bob's last purr was a few hours before he died. I happened to have recorded the sound. I don't have the nerve to listen to it again, but I hope one day I can hear it and not be devastated.
Bob was in charge of all the cats and kept power until the last few months of his life. Bob was fearless from living for years outdoors, some of those on his own as a stray. I've said it before and I'll say it again; Bob wasn't neutered until he was well into adulthood. Though I am adamant that cats be spayed or neutered, I'm secretly glad there are probably baby Bob's out there somewhere.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob's favorite spot in the sun.
Grief grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you hard. It wakes you up or it makes you want to sleep until the feeling passes. Sadly, the feeling doesn’t really pass. It lies dormant, catching you off guard at odd times like on the first nice spring day when normally I’d put out the deck chairs and cushions so Bob would have a place to relax outside. I didn’t go out on the deck other than to fill the bird feeders. With Bob gone no one went out on the deck this year. I just couldn’t bring myself to set up the deck furniture. I didn’t want to set out the lime green cushions that reminded me of the color of Bob’s eyes. If I did that I knew I’d keep looking for him to appear, spread out on the chair, clearly loving life, not bothered to even look up if a bird flew right over his head.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Near the end, ravaged by ringworm, Bob was still beautiful to me.
As I get older, I find that there’s more grief in my life than love or happiness. Doing cat rescue there is so much grief over the loss of newborn kittens or knowing those cats you’re trying to rescue don’t make it out of the shelter alive. I know so many “cat people” that of course their cats pass away, too and I share in their loss.
Some of my friends have died. I don’t feel “that old” where my friends should pass away or get stricken with cancer (which triggers a whole other form of grief).
It’s been a year since Bob died. I honored him by rescuing an orange tabby cat I named Bobette, along with rescuing her six newborn kittens. Three of the kittens passed away within the first few days—a tragic loss after just losing Bob. The others did well and all the cats have since been adopted into great, loving homes.
©2011 Betsy Merchant. Cat at animal control who would later become the beloved Kissy of Paws and Effect. Her surviving kittens, Jakey, Teddy & Mikey are about to celebrate their first birthday with their families.
My friend Warren, of Royal Bobbles, honored Bob by creating a custom “Bob-blehead” of him as a gift. It’s something I will always cherish.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Shrine for Bob featuring the custom sculpted Bobblehead on the left.
I’d like to do something more to honor Bob. Perhaps I’ll start a special fund for him or rescue more orange tabby cats. I’d like to do something positive with all this pain, but it’s a struggle not to let depression take over.
The energy in the house just doesn’t feel “right” any more. I can’t explain it. It’s not as if I don’t have any cats. There was something I felt in my heart that’s gone. There’s a queer emptiness to the house. The places where I’d often find Bob are empty. I can’t get over the feeling of wishing he would come back or that I could see him again, in all his magnificent glory, when he was healthy and well.
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. Not long after adopting him after my Mother passed away-Bob in his full glory.
I miss you so much, Bob. I always will.