Like Frederick the mouse in one of Leo Lionni’s children’s books, I have stored images of beauty. On February 25, my mother died. Her final three weeks were under hospice care in her home. I flew in for a visit and there were some incredible exchanges I will never forget. Yet, I am also haunted by images of her deterioration and helplessness.

Now, my cat of fifteen years is severely diminished and approaching death. The tears are back, a mix of this double grief. I remember holding my mom’s hand, saying my last goodbye, before heading to the airport. I said she would live in my heart forever. She said, “I’ll be bouncing around in there.”

Rationally, I know that at almost 92, with a failing body, it was time for my mother to pass on. It does not change the nature of the loss, though I am certain that those who lose loved ones at an earlier age have an element of tragedy that I did not experience.

I can apply the same thinking to my cat. When I adopted her from the Dumb Friends League, she was 4 months old. Although she probably would have preferred to be an outdoor cat, she has had time prowling around the yard under our supervision. She has slept in our bed, and in her older years, stretched out on top of me for naps. This morning, she purred and I drank in the sound, the sound that may soon disappear from my life.


I swim in a sea of tears,
in the deep waters of grief.
There is no tomorrow.
Sifting through the moments,
collecting memories,
the treasures of a life shared.

The gift of love
opening the door to pain wide,
yet what is greater?

Love, the gold we all seek,
that I have been blessed to find.

linda keller
february 19, 2013