Today I heard the cries of my young daughter as I told her that our cat of four years, Sharpy, was missing. She cried because she knew that we were announcing a death as we had lost another good cat just six months before. Now, we had no pets and a mystery. What had become of them? If they were dead, what or who had killed them? It was a sad thing and a potentially dangerous thing. Rattlesnakes, coyotes, neighbors with guns: all were possible cases for the death of a beloved pet, but what or who had caused it?
Living with pets, one learns about death. The lives of animals are much shorter than the lives of people, and a body would be easier to deal with than an absence. What happened? Where is he now, the pet that we loved so much?
My husband holds her as she cries. One son goes out to call as if he could call back the spirit of the dead cat. Perhaps he can. The other berates him for trying. “Let him try”, I say.
When someone is missing, there is always the hope that he will come back, no matter how remote, there is a place in your heart left open to the possibility that he will walk back into the door one day. But that part of the heart is also hollow, empty, wanting to be filled but containing nothing but memories and ashes.