WILKES-BARRE — After living with the same cat for nearly 20 years, life has not been the same without her.
And the resolution is not as simple as just getting another cat.
Lily, named after my mother’s favorite flower, Lily of the Valley, died in April 2017 and I have missed her every day since.
Lily was who I came home to every day — she would hear the garage door opening and be on the steps waiting for me when I came through the door. She would run to the top of the steps, lay on her back and demand belly rubs. When I laid on the couch, Lily would cuddle and purr as I petted her. It took years for her to become as affectionate as she did, but as she got older, she never missed an opportunity.
And she loved her treats, not too many, but a few each day. And when I would bring out a duffel bag to pack for a trip, Lily would react instantly — pacing around the room and meowing, as if to say, “Please don’t leave me.”
Lily was my little girl. I would sing to her and I’m sure she wondered what that was all about. She liked to nap and she never, ever complained about anything. Until she got sick, signaling the end was near.
So a few months after her passing, I gave serious thought about getting another cat. In fact, I had almost sealed a deal for a kitten. Then I had a dream. Lily came to me in that dream, asking me if it was true that I was going to replace her.
Fact is I could never replace Lily — she was one of a kind. And after having her around for those near 20 years, I began to doubt if I could ever go through losing another. So I backed out of the kitten deal.
From time to time, I have thought about reconsidering my stance. I have prayed to Lily to understand that I would not be replacing her, just trying to bring back into my life that companionship of a little, purring ball of fur.
I think Lily would understand. Well, maybe. You know how cats can be.
This urge to get another cat comes over me every time I think about all those cats out there in need of a home. I can’t save them all, but I sure can offer a home to one.
There are many animal rescue places that offer homes to stray cats and dogs, or abandoned pets — little animals that never asked for much, just a place to get food, shelter and some attention. The bold reality is that there are far too many of these wayward animals to find homes for and they either spend their days in small cages waiting for a kind-hearted human to come along, or they disappear. I just can’t think about the euthanization of these little innocent animals, but it happens.
On behalf of the homeless animals, I ask you all to consider doing what you can to rescue at least one of them. Give them a home where they can enjoy their lives and feel the love of a human. They certainly will return that love unconditionally.
I’m going to step up my search for a new cat companion. I want to save one furry feline. I know there is one out there for me. And for you.
And don’t be afraid of the paperwork that is part of the adoption process. It is a necessary inconvenience to assure the animal — who may already have been mistreated — is sent to a loving home and will be cared for humanely.
This can be an exciting time for you and your family, especially if you have children. The internet is filled with those short videos of kids and dogs and cats having fun. Smiles are everywhere. That’s what pets do — they bring joy into a home and into our lives.
So as I begin my search for a new buddy, I have to say the journey is not without trepidation.
It will be a long time before I will recover from losing Lily, my little girl who I sang to every day, held and petted and who I often confided in. Nobody knows the closeness between Lily and me, and she will continue to be missed every moment of every day.
As I wrote on Facebook when she died: “In lieu of flowers, gifts of any kind or anything, Lily asks that all humans cherish your time with your pets and never waste a day with them.”
I learned so much from that little cat. Lily never ever complained about anything, and she always welcomed a scratch on her cheeks, a belly rub and even an occasional kiss, although she probably accepted those because her dad enjoyed them more.
Yeah, I’m going to do this, and I really believe Lily would want me to.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or email at [email protected]