Sixteen Years A Stranger
Posted on December 17, 2013
My eyes blink away unexpected tears
And my voice trembles,
As I absorb the news
Over a long-distance phone call.

We were strangers for a lifetime.
Our distant natures, our mutual respect,
Created a cradling familiarity
That only people like us know.

You sat with me,
Silently, obediently,
As my wife left and my heart broke
Into millions of irreparable pieces.

And you kept coming back,
Even when I forgot to let you in that day,
And after throwing away your old toys,
And after I got you fixed.

Then I hear the horror of your discovery,
The aloofness of the uninterested,
The disgust from the bothered,
Shame disguised in a chuckle or two.

Hastily, they shoved your body into the trash,
To keep the rotting stench away,
Like a withered white rose
Overhanging a moss-filled vase.

I held in the whimpers.
After all, you were only an accessory,
Not the center of my life,
Not my most faithful companion.

You were "just a pet."
What were they to do?
They never understood us.
Why argue with them now?

Soon, I'll go home to an empty space,
With no one to feed,
Or nuzzle at my feet when I arrive,
Or miss me when I'm gone.

I'll give you my respect and prayers,
As I did with your two sisters last year.
I'll bury what I have left of you:
A few toys and memories of us.


A tribute to a friend's loss of his 16-year-old cat while he's vacationing with me and my family in the U.S. She had been with him throughout his entire adulthood, through gloriously sunny days and nightmarish typhoons. The news of how his family handled the discovery and how they took care of his pet's remains really shocked me. His reaction was almost unbearable. I was so angry at his family, who didn't care much about his cat, but I had to hold it in. What good would it do? Nothing can be undone.

Well, that prompted this piece. I started out enraged, almost shouting as I hammered the keys on my laptop, but as I thought about what he's going to have to go through when he gets home, expecting a welcome and receiving none, I softened up. Still a sad ending.


  1. My dogs are my children, truly. My heart just ached when I read this. How awful! I'm pretty tough, and I've been through some narly times, but I can't even handle the thought of losing one of my pups . . .

    1. I had a dog growing up and when he died at 15 we were all heartbroken. It took a while to stop calling him whenever we'd open the front door. They just become part of your life. And anything that's part of your life for that long will cause a sharp pain when it's gone. My mom never wanted another dog after that, it was just too painful for her.


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