All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
I closed my eyes, forcing the numbness in my body out. Time had slowed, making me relive every moment. I let myself sink into the passenger seat, trying to slow my breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Summer was still a month away, but the early season heat set my body on fire.
I gripped the cushioned seat, pulling at the tough fabric. I clenched and unclenched my hands, but I felt nothing. Just an aching in my chest where a wide hole had been punched. My last words played over and over in my head: I love you. I thought then what a cliché it was, but at least it was something. At least she'd always have them.
I tried only to think about my best memories of her, everything that had made me hers, but the dread clouded over them.
After another moment of painful breathing, every intake sharp like knives, I pulled myself into a slouched sitting position, my arms limp by my sides. The skin on my face felt tight; the tears had seeped into my pores, stiffening the lost look on my face.
I pushed the door open, stepping out of the car. Every move I took was in a slow, dream-like demeanor. My legs shook, my knees threatening to buckle, but somehow I stayed standing. Somehow, I would go on.
My sister, who had not come with us when it happened, stepped back, deciding to stay at the house. I felt irritated, knowing that she was refusing to say good-bye. But I had felt it too. There would never really be a good-bye. Not from me.
My uncle appeared in the drive from behind the barn. He had graciously and without hesitation agreed to let us choose her final resting place in the woods on his property. *
A place had been determined even before we arrived at the house, eyes red and puffy, faces pale, and hearts broken. I knew because of the way my uncle guided us through the cluttered trees, clearing us paths with the large shovel he carried beside him.
My uncle stopped in between two small trees whose branches were not yet full, a few evergreen leaves sprouting here and there. A thick beam of warm light passed between the two, seeming to form a spotlight.
“Is this okay?” my uncle asked, waiting for our consent. *
I swallowed the lump in my throat, a sob escaping from the pit of my stomach.
My mother nodded. She stepped beside him, crouching low as she waited for him to start. *
He brought the dulled tip of the shovel into the earth. He dug deeper, a new pile of fresh soil quickly rising beside him as he threw it to the side. I knew his arms must be sore, but he kept going until my mother finally said it was enough.
My father, who had had one hand on my shoulder, the other carrying the plastic bag filled with day lilies in the other, the whole time, walked past me, joining my uncle by the side. *
My mother alone set the box inside the grave. I only watched, with fresh tears dripping off my chin, as my uncle began to toss the dirt back inside. When there was only a little of the pile left, my mother began to plant the day lilies. She was smart and had thought to give her something that would return annually. But that would also be me, returning on this day every year to remember her.
Even then, in the midst of burying her, I thought of how much she had changed my life. She had chosen me, and I had chosen her. I would never forget the little white 'worm' that snaked her nose, or her short, frostbitten ears from her life as a stray. She was always considerably fat, although I'd just say she was 'big boned'. When we first met her, she was twig-like. As time went on, she became THE fat cat in our family.
Not too long after we found each other, she had a baby. We assumed the father was the neighbor's tabby cat from across the street, but who knew? I think this is what started my mother's obsession in rescuing kittens, and soon enough, she became a full-blown cat lady.
It was done now, the flowers planted on top, the spotlight slowly receding. I helped my mother create a ring of rocks around them, marking the spot so it'd be obvious next time we came.
I felt the closest to my mom because we had gone through this together, had been there with her when the time came. I only wanted her to comfort me, although I didn't deny my father when he hugged me. We started back to the house, our hands clasped together, inseparable at least for this moment.
The drive back home was a quiet one. My sister tried her hand at small talk, but it quickly died out.
As I cried myself to sleep that night, I thought of how she'd came to me: at a friend's house, a none-too-shy ball of black and white fur, letting my friend's younger sister hold her and play with her. Only her four paws were white, along with a small circle on her chest and that snake running up into her nose. We all called her Boots, because the white on her back legs ran up a little further than the front ones.
She hadn't stayed long, and I hadn't expected to ever see her again. But a couple of days later, as I went outside to do whatever it was second-graders do on a weekend, I looked across the street. She was just a speck of darkness in the distance, but I called out to her anyway.
A head turned, and then she was walking toward me across the street, like nothing else mattered. I saw all the little details we had pointed out a few nights before, confirming it was actually her! She rubbed against my legs as I crouched down to welcome her back, and I knew she remembered me.
Thinking back on this, all of the best things I remembered about my short time with her, drew a crack in the shell holding the sickening feelings inside, releasing some of the tension. Though there would always be a piece of me missing, I knew that Boots didn't feel any more pain. I knew she was, like they always say, in a better place.