Never in a million years did I imagine it would happen this way.
I always knew my cats wouldn’t live forever, but saying goodbye to Benji in January cemented that reality. Soon after he died, Abby became sick. Everyone — my husband, our vets (including my sister), my parents — said she would be fine. That this couldn’t happen again so soon. But deep down, I feared that it would.
I won’t go into all the details. To make a long story short, as soon as she’d recover from one ailment, she’d develop another. I’d go from feeling terrified to relieved to terrified again. Finally, she went to see a specialist who prescribed a new medication. The next day she deteriorated rapidly. I felt so guilty, like we had killed her by forcing this medicine down her throat. But a vet from our regular office said that her body just wasn’t strong enough anymore. She had endured too much, physically and emotionally. We’re all convinced that her grief over losing Benji made her sick in the first place.
I already talked about how much Abby and Benji meant to me, how they saved me more than I saved them. What I didn’t tell you, is that Abby was technically my first cat. When I walked into the shelter on June 14, 2008, I saw a cage full of gray kittens. One of the little kittens stuck its paw out and waved me over. I immediately knew that she was the one. (Benji and I found each other a few minutes later.) Even though our life together ended much sooner than I wanted, I am so, so thankful that she chose me.
One of the only things that kept me going after Abby’s death is that we still had Clara at home. She was noticeably depressed, wandering around the house looking in all of Abby’s favorite hiding spots. It was heartbreaking to watch. We knew how much she had loved both of her siblings.
Her grief is the only reason I let my sister and husband talk me into adopting someone new. It just so happened that one of the vets at my sister’s hospital was looking for a home for two kittens. My sister had already adopted another kitten from that same litter, and she convinced us it was a good opportunity.
I had mixed emotions when we met them. Sure they were cute, but wouldn’t it seem like we were replacing Abby and Benji? Wouldn’t it betray their memory to adopt someone so soon after losing them? To be honest, I still struggle with that. And I still struggle with the idea that no cat will ever love me as much as Abby and Benji did. (Clara has always preferred my husband.)
It took Clara a few days to adjust, but soon it was apparent that we made the right decision. She and Einstein (the black and white one) took to each other almost immediately, running around and wrestling. Dolly (the orange and white) is still adjusting to Clara, but they’re getting along more and more every day.
I wish I could communicate with Clara. I wish I could tell her what happened to Abby and Benji and make sure she never forgets them. But at least she isn’t alone. These aren’t the siblings we originally promised her, but I’m happy she has them.
And I’m happy we have them, too. They will never, ever replace my Abby and Benji. But they’re slowing wiggling their way into my heart. There is so much life in our little house now, and I’m grateful for that.
I can’t put into words how much I miss my original fur babies, and how much I hope I’ll see them again someday. Until then, I’ll give these three all the love I can. Because they deserve it.