Saturday, July 06, 2013

Farewell to a Beloved Pet

Yesterday my wife and I said goodbye to our dear cat Lacey. She's been with us for fifteen years; when I first met her she fit in my palm. Since then she's endeared herself to us with her impossibly long meows, and she's habitually sat in our laps long past the point of convenience. She's always been funny in an awkward sort of way, hiding herself from our friends and family but being her whole self unreservedly with us.

We discovered a couple of months ago that Lacey had cancer, and while she'd been bearing up well since then, she'd lost a lot of weight and had a little less life in her eyes every day. Yesterday morning I called the vet; that afternoon we took her to the clinic and returned home without her.

I've never said goodbye to a pet, mainly because I didn't really have pets till after I was married. We had fish in my house when I was growing up, but fish occupy their own universe; we observe fish, moreso than abiding with them. Lacey and I, by contrast, occupied the same space. We've grown older together; we've moved together from one home to another; we've endured sickness and health and trouble and trial together. My wife and I will miss her; I find it a little hard, quite honestly, to imagine my mornings without her.

Nearly fifteen years ago I first came across a prayer by theologian Stanley Hauerwas, included in his brief book Prayers Plainly Spoken, that he wrote in remembrance of his cat Tuck. I've offered it to friends over the years as they've said goodbye to their pets. I adapt it here for my own benefit, my way of saying goodbye.

Passionate Lord,

By becoming one of us, you revealed your unrelenting desire to have us love you. As we were created for such love, you have made us to love your creation and through such love, such desire, learn to love you. We believe every love we have you have given us.

Lacey's love of us, and our love of her, is a beacon, a participation, in your love of all your creation. We thank you, we sing your praise, for the wonderful life of this cat. Her generosity, her enthusiasm, her naivete, her timidity, her patience, her presence--these qualities and others made us better, made our love for one another better, made us better love you.

We will miss her. Help us not fear remembering her, confident that the sadness such memory brings is bounded by the joy that Lacey existed and, with us, is part of your glorious creation, a harbinger of your peaceable kingdom.

Amen

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