The Loss of Romeo, My Best Friend

by B Bryan
(Missouri)

Romeo in 2010

Romeo in 2010

After my family and I moved into our Victorian home in 2004, I kept spotting what I thought was a raccoon outside. I'd see it whip across the back porch rail. It turned out to be a huge, spotted tabby with a coon-like tail and coloring. He was absolutely beautiful and had big, green eyes. I wanted to pet him, but the magnificent stray wouldn't let me get close. When I'd get near, he'd bolt.

Though his past remains a mystery, I believe that a neighbor moved and left him and his sister behind. We'd taken his sister in who got ran over and had to have major surgery. Though her injuries were extensive, by some miracle, she survived.

Her brother, however, wouldn't let me get close during that first year. One day when he was on the porch eating cat food, I snuck up behind him and pet him. He looked up, stared at me intensely. It seemed like there were stars in his eyes. I'm certain that he instantly fell in love with me. So I dubbed him Romeo.

From that moment on, every time this lovesick cat would see me on the porch, he'd meow loudly even if he was on the opposite side of the street, then he'd race over for some affection.

Though I grew attached to him, with three dogs and six cats, we had too many pets to take him in so he remained an "outdoor cat."

After our cat Lucifer died in October 2007, I grieved horribly. Every day, I'd go outside to feed and pet this stray and noticed that I always felt better from his presence. He had a special quality, an ability to give comfort. By Thanksgiving, I'd decided to bring him in and make him an official household pet, and I'm so glad I did. What a blessing he was.

Though he was my cat, he quickly bonded with the family. He was, quite simply, the best cat we've ever had. He was more like a dog than a cat. He followed me everywhere, slept at me and my husband's feet, sat on the back of my computer chair while I worked, watched at the window for us to return. We loved him so much.

He was a huge cat, 23 pounds, and I always thought he was part Bengal as he had numerous spots and stripes that gave him the look of a wild cat, which is how he got his nickname, "Little Tiger." But I'll likely never know what his genetic background was.

Thursday morning, August 16, he seemed like his normal self. He mooched in the kitchen, ate a lot as usual, and had a nap on the couch with me. I went out that afternoon and when I returned that evening, he was missing. I assumed he'd gotten outside. My family and I conducted several neighborhood searches, but he seemed to have vanished.

Then, in the early hours of Saturday morning, I found him on the living room floor. I have no idea where he'd been hiding all that time. Hearing me call, he apparently tried to come to me and collapsed. He was panting, wheezing, lethargic, and his eyes were dilated. He wouldn't eat or drink. We rushed him to the vet and x-rays revealed that he had a tumor the size of two baseballs near the bladder and the cancer had spread to his lungs. In addition, he had pneumonia and system failure. Amazingly, until this acute complication, he'd never seemed sick in any way. We had no idea that he was terminally ill. It was quite a shock.

That morning, we decided to put him to sleep to relieve his suffering. Afterward, we had him cremated.

It has been two weeks. I'm still reeling from his loss, still crying several times a day, and I believe I'll grieve for quite some time. But even through grief, his memory has already become a blessing. Love comes to us rarely in life, and I believe, with everything in my heart, that he was such a divine gift. He had a special purpose, to see me through some major milestones. He always made things brighter no matter how bad life was. He also opened my heart, made me a better person, renewed my faith. Now I have deeper love for all things and everyone, more compassion and forgiveness.

And his absence has reminded me that, above all things, the gift of love should be cherished.

A few weeks before Romeo passed away, we took in two feral kittens, Loki and Juliette. They give our hearts comfort. I believe they're a gift too, sent to ease our grief through this loss and to lend other unexpected blessings. And I pray that we develop a special bond with them. No other cat will replace Romeo, but each animal brings some special grace to our lives. And though our hearts hurts from his loss, I know that loss is part of living, part of the bargain we make in allowing ourselves to love. But what would we be if we didn't love? We are not supposed to lock our love away in a drawer, but give it again and again. That's one of the gifts pets teach us.

Comments for The Loss of Romeo, My Best Friend

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Oct 28, 2016
romeo
by: Anonymous

romeo was 12 years old. he was a male cat.i miss him so much.

Jun 13, 2016
romeo
by: Anonymous

romeo just dyed. i am in tears. he was 16 years old he loved me a lot. he said snak

Sep 04, 2012
Loss of Romeo
by: Dale in Moscow ID

It's so hard to say good by to a friend that found his way carefully into your heart. When you invest so much of yourself into that bond it is hard to take the loss. For me it was our 16 yr old cat Penny that was so important to my family when my 3 girls were growing up. By the time she was diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer it fell to Dad to see to it that she got her meds every day as the girls were for the most part on their own and living elsewhere. Who was more surprised than me when she died and I was the one that fell apart over the loss. She had meant so much to everyone and been so much a part of our memories. I feel your loss.

Sep 04, 2012
Dear B Bryan :-My condolences to you
by: Sandy

It was sad to read about the demise of your ROMEO ,who was truly elegant.After losing our fur babies we cannot get through the feeling of not having our fur babies around us any more. Everyone says time is a great healer but I have not felt it. Time stands still for me from the time I lost my Kitty Poochie about 5 months ago. From your write up I can make out what a beautiful bond you shared with Romeo . He seemed to be of a very affectionate kind and brought about may changes in your outlook towards life...becoming more compassionate, forgiving etc etc. If possible bring in a homeless kitten and give all your love and affection to it. Chances are there you might get another Romeo (Pl don't mistake me- as your love for the original Romeo is irreplaceable)Each pet has its own traits and cannot be compared to one another.
Romeo must be in Rainbow bridge playing with his new found friends there - only thing is he must be missing you. Take Care - May GOD bless you.

Sep 03, 2012
The Loss of Romeo, My Best Friend
by: Doreen U.K.

THANK YOU!!! for your well written and Blessed story of Romeo and the love he brought into your lives. I know what you are saying. I had 9 cockatiels and I loved these little darlings to bits before I had to part with them. I had to let them go to a large aviary where they could fly and enjoy the outdoor and indoor aviary. I only had a cage and it became cruel to see them locked up. They would look at me as if pleading with me to let them go. They too brought such love and Blessing into my life. I miss them. I could feel the love from your story. There is such a beautiful bond with our pets that is different from other bondings and we feel the loss just as much. When some of my birds died I too broke my heart. I got my husband to make a box and gave them a good burial. Steve was my husband a carpenter. Steve got fed up making boxes each time a bird died, but he did this lovingly. Steve died 4 months ago of Cancer. Losses in life are very painfull but I can also see the blessing of having LOVED.

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