Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Simone, 1999- 2018

This morning we had to say good-bye to our dear Simone, my companion of 19 years. I’ve written about her a lot on this site, most notably here. I was 22 when she showed up on my doorstep one summer evening back in 1999 in Springfield, Missouri. She was teeny tiny and fit right into the palm of my hand. I didn’t want a cat though, didn’t know what to do with a cat, had never had a cat; I gave her to some neighbors. For the next few days, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I thought I’d made a mistake giving her away and I considered asking for her back, but before I could, my neighbors showed up at my door with her and said they couldn’t handle her. She was feisty, I soon learned, with a strong will that rivaled anyone I’d known. My love for her was immediate and strong, and I know she felt the same.

She came with me from Springfield to Chicago, along with a boyfriend and his two cats. We lived together all five of us — first in one apartment and then another — until we didn’t, and she tormented those poor older cats until they moved out. I bet they never stopped looking over their shoulder either, waiting for her to pounce, ready as ever to play. After that, we lived in another apartment very briefly with a roommate, and then another apartment on our own again, just the two of us for a few years until Miles joined us in 2005. She was patient with him — more patient than I had anticipated, and showed him how to use the litter box which, 13 years later, he still hasn’t quite mastered. The following year, I met Drew. He was allergic to cats. “I can take medicine,” he said. “But even so,” I said, “You live in New York, I live in Chicago.” “I can commute,” he replied.

He did commute. We both did. For a year and a half. And he took the allergy medicine and he fell in love with my cats and they loved him too, and in 2007 the three of us moved into his apartment in Manhattan, and then we all moved to an apartment in Brooklyn a few years after that and then to another apartment in Brooklyn and then to the home we bought last year. Nine homes I shared with Simone. Nine homes, a million head pats, countless memories.

One of the things people noticed first about Simone, after her feistiness, was her lack of a tail. She’d had it amputated when she was two, when we lived in our first Chicago apartment. It looked a little funny, I guess, but it didn’t slow her down in the least, and I always forgot about it until, inevitably, someone would be over — a new friend, a date, a delivery person — and would comment, “That cat doesn’t have a tail!” as if it were the most notable thing about her. As if there weren’t a dozen more interesting traits to notice about Simone.

She was a diva. She was noble. She always enjoyed a good party. She loved being patted on her butt — it was the weirdest thing, but I learned this about her very early and once I did, she wanted nothing more. Pat-pat-pat-pat-pat. When friends came over, she’d find the one who tolerated cats the least and she’d climb on that person’s lap and wait. “She wants to be patted on her butt,” I’d say, “like this.” And then I’d show whomever she’d chosen to monopolize for the next hour how to do it just so. To express her appreciation, she’d bite — hard in her early years, and very lightly in her later years, almost out of a sense of obligation by that point. “Wow, she’s really mellowed out in her older age,” friends would say in recent years upon seeing her for the first time in a while. People feared her like 25% less once she hit 15.

Simone could leap 10 feet in the air! She did this for the longest time – up until a few years ago. The most memorable time was the evening Drew and I got engaged and we rushed home to tell the cats and they both — even fat, lazy Miles (sorry, Miles) — leapt in the air higher than we’d ever seen. Even last year, when she was 18, she was still climbing to the top of our kitchen cabinets, 8, 9 feet above floor-level, and seeing what kind of trouble she could get into.

She was like a kitten almost to the very end — in size, stature, and spirit. But around Jackson and Joanie, she was gentle and loving and sweet. While I was pregnant, she’d knee my swollen belly and rest her head against the baby’s head, and when each baby was born and we brought them home, she was so protective and proud and doting, like she thought they were her babies. She loved our family so much, and she always wanted to be right in the middle of us all. She found the heart of every home we shared and made it her spot.

I began worrying about her a few days ago when she developed some unpleasant symptoms — an odor, an unkempt appearance. By Friday night, she started taking a turn for the worse, but visiting the vet was such an excruciating experience for her that I delayed taking her. On Saturday morning, she hadn’t improved and I monitored her throughout the day, spending lots of time right by her side, patting her the way she liked, singing to her, telling her how much I loved her. She seemed comfortable but not herself, and the symptoms persisted. I found a vet in Brooklyn who makes house calls and requested an appointment. She told me we were out of her jurisdiction and that she had a full schedule or she’d try to make the commute. She said she was very concerned about the symptoms and urged me to take Simone to the ER right away. I did. We were both so scared. But the vet was able to rule out a couple major concerns and said to take her home and continue monitoring her.

By the next morning, Simone could barely move her back legs. I kept thinking maybe it was an effect of the sedative the vet had given her the night before to examine her (no vet could ever examine Simone without sedating her first!). But she didn’t get better, and by nightfall she was nearly immobile. Still, I remained hopeful that maybe I could nurse her to health with love and cuddles and treats. I stayed by her side all last night and tried. I didn’t sleep a wink, and by 6 am, she started moaning and it was clear to me that she was in pain and not getting any better. I woke up Drew and told him I was taking her to the ER. The kids woke up then and came to our room and I told them she was very sick and I had to take her back to the doctor. The four of us crowded around her and petted her head and told her we loved her.

“Will you bring her home?” Drew asked. “If it’s time for her to go?”
“I don’t know.” I said. I imagined if it was time to let her go, that might mean she was in too much pain to be transported again. “You should say good-bye now, just in case,” I said.

At the ER, my fears were quickly confirmed. The vet suspected a blood clot and warned that if I did more tests to confirm it, the pain and stress could be excruciating, and no other possible explanation would have a good outcome. “It’s clear you’ve given her a very long and happy life,” she said.

It happened so quickly, our last moments together — not at all like I’d imagined whenever I let myself imagine the end. But once I made the decision, I wanted it over with as quickly as possible. One more pat-pat-pat and that was it, she was gone. I hope I did right by her. I hope she knows how much I love her, how she’ll always be in my heart, how grateful I am that she stuck around to help usher me to this stage of my life. We had 19 wonderful years together and, still, it wasn’t enough. It will have to be enough.

54 comments… add one
  • avatar

    ktfran October 22, 2018, 1:46 pm

    What a lovely tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss. Sending you and your family good thoughts.

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    Artsygirl October 22, 2018, 1:47 pm

    Dear Wendy –
    I am so, so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a wonderful companion and family member. It is amazing how much they are able to burrow into the fabric of our lives, to become so essential to our daily lives. Sending you and your family lots of love.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. October 22, 2018, 2:00 pm

    I am sorry, Wendy. I lost my parakeet today, too.

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  • veritek33

    veritek33 October 22, 2018, 2:34 pm

    I’m so sorry. It’s never enough time.

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  • avatar

    dogmom October 22, 2018, 2:37 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss, Wendy. 🐾💔

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  • Copa

    Copa October 22, 2018, 2:52 pm

    I’m sorry for your family’s loss! I’m a huge animal person and cry just thinking about people having to say goodbye to their fur children. Pets are heartbreak waiting to happen, buttt they give us so much love and companionship during their short time here with us.

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  • avatar

    Rebecca October 22, 2018, 2:55 pm

    *sadface* I’m so sorry for your loss. What a good kitty.

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  • avatar

    SDSmith82 October 22, 2018, 3:08 pm

    I have nothing to say except that I am so, so sorry. I’m actively trying to hold back the tears here at work.
    I also have an older cat- she’s 14- and I dread the day that I have to make that choice. I’ve had my car since she was 4 months old, and is one of those cats that even non cat people love. I have a feeling Simone was the same. She will always be in your heart, and part of the family.

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  • avatar

    Milla October 22, 2018, 3:09 pm

    Simone seems like an angel (in the way that especially canny and feisty cats are angels) and I’m so sorry that she’s no longer with you. Thinking of Simone and all our brilliant companions today, and sending you and yours love.

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  • Boobs Magee

    Boobs Magee October 22, 2018, 3:15 pm

    I’m so very sorry. I wish much peace for you and your family.

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  • avatar

    CET October 22, 2018, 3:17 pm

    I am so sorry for you loss. She sounds like a great and beautiful kitty, and you gave her a wonderful life. I am mentally preparing myself for our dog going soon. I have had her for 17 years and right now I just try to keep her comfortable and happy.

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  • Moneypenny

    Moneypenny October 22, 2018, 3:21 pm

    Oh gosh, I’m sorry Wendy. It sounds like she was the best kitty companion you could have wished for.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy October 22, 2018, 3:42 pm

    Thanks so much for the kind words, everyone. I feel completely gutted today, but tomorrow will be a new day and I am hoping a good night’s sleep tonight will soften this pain just a little bit. I’m going to miss my Simone more than I can express – I already do – but I have so many good and funny memories to comfort me. She was a wonderful companion and I am lucky we found each other and had so many great years together.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse October 22, 2018, 3:45 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Wendy.

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    Heatherly October 22, 2018, 3:59 pm

    Aww, Wendy. Sorry to read this. It’s so hard losing a pet. I lost my dog four years ago. I remember it so clearly and the entire body sobbing that took me over. So sending a big hug over the internet to you over the gorgeous Simone.

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  • juliecatharine

    juliecatharine October 22, 2018, 4:13 pm

    Goddamn onions.

    I’m so sorry Wendy. Simone was clearly very loved and I have no doubt it was mutual. It’s never long enough. Hugs to you. ❤️🐾

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  • avatar

    Rangerchic October 22, 2018, 4:17 pm

    That was a beautiful tribute to your kitty. It’s so heartbreaking to loose a pet. So sorry for your loss.

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  • avatar

    keyblade October 22, 2018, 4:23 pm

    I’m sorry for your, loss. She sounds like she was very well-loved and cared for by her family. She will clearly be remembered and carried on in the hearts of you both and the kids.

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  • avatar

    Bondgirk October 22, 2018, 4:23 pm

    Wendy it sounds like you did everything right by that cat. And most importantly you gave her such a wonderful life. 19 years is phenomenal for a cat! So sorry for the loss of your kitty.

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  • avatar

    TheRascal October 22, 2018, 5:47 pm

    Very sorry for your loss, Wendy. Simone seemed like a great companion and it sounds like she lived a life full of love and happiness with you and your family.

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  • avatar

    Ange October 22, 2018, 6:12 pm

    I’m so sorry, what a beautiful tribute. I’ll send all my good thoughts to you and the family and also Miles who is probably sad as well.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie October 22, 2018, 6:51 pm

    Oh man, I’m so sorry that your family is a little smaller today.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous October 22, 2018, 6:57 pm

    Oh no! So sorry to hear this! I have become VERY attached to my best friend’s cat Clementine who I have watched over for many, many weeks over the past few years…

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark October 22, 2018, 7:58 pm

      Sorry about the multiple posts! I uh… blame onions!

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark October 22, 2018, 7:41 pm

    Oh no! So sorry to hear that you lost your precious Simone!
    .
    I have recently become VERY attached to my best friend’s cat who I have been catsitting an insane amount lately. Hell, I even go over there now to just hang out with her in what I jokingly refer to as Cafe Clem — dubbing the apartment a writing cafe named after Clementine — grooviest cat in all of LA…
    .
    Cats are such fun, little lovable companions!

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  • avatar

    Kate October 22, 2018, 8:01 pm

    I’m sorry, I know it hurts so bad.

    And if I had a do-over with my last doggie, I would have brought him to say goodbye sooner so he could go peacefully and not suffer. You did the right thing.

    Maybe when some time passes, you’ll want to get a little kitty who needs a home. Or not.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar October 22, 2018, 9:08 pm

    I’m so sorry. It’s heartbreaking to lose a member of your family but how beautiful that the two of you had each other for as long as you did.

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  • avatar

    d2 October 22, 2018, 9:58 pm

    How wonderful that she shared that time of your life. Through all of those changes, she was there with you. She may be gone, but she will forever be a part of your life. My condolences.

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  • avatar

    saneinca October 22, 2018, 10:36 pm

    I am so sorry to hear that Wendy. But she will always live on in your memories.

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  • avatar

    Erica October 23, 2018, 12:37 am

    I’m so sorry. I had to make the same decision for my kitty about a year ago, and it’s so hard but it’s the right choice. You gave her a long, happy life.

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  • avatar

    MissD October 23, 2018, 3:59 am

    Ahhhh I am bawling. I’m so sorry Wendy. I know how much you love your girl Simone. You gave her such a good life.

    I hope my old girl lives just as long. God I can’t even imagine losing her and I’m crying even more at the thought.

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  • avatar

    Randee October 23, 2018, 7:20 am

    My husband likes to say that when we love our pets, we’re storing up “treasures in heaven.”

    I still fall into tears when I remember my beloved Ciara’s final moments, which I spent with her. (Yep, there they are.)

    I have all the sympathy for you and your loss.

    19 years is huge; you did good. Many, many treasures in heaven, including Simone.

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  • avatar

    MP October 23, 2018, 9:33 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss…. cats (and all pets really) truly are a member of the family. I still think of my kitties that passed away more than a decade ago. Sending you and yours my love…

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  • avatar

    K October 23, 2018, 11:05 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Wendy. Simone sounded like a truly wonderful cat.

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  • avatar

    Vathena October 23, 2018, 11:14 am

    Oh man, now I’m crying at my desk. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss, Wendy. We had to say goodbye to our sweet Mimi (who looked much like your Simone!) last summer – I posted about it in the forums because I know how many animal lovers are here. It’s so hard. You gave Simone a good life, and a peaceful end when the time came. (I don’t know if you’ve heard of the book Lifetimes- subtitle, “the beautiful way to explain death to children”, but I found it useful for talking about Mimi’s death with our daughter.) Hugs to all of you.

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  • the_optimist

    the_optimist October 23, 2018, 12:29 pm

    Sobbing. What a wonderful tribute. I’m so sorry.

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  • avatar

    Ale October 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

    That’s why I love cats, because they pick us. All my cats have entered my life that way. They pick who they want to be with. She clearly picked you, because she knew you were going to be good to her.
    I am very sorry for your loss.

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  • avatar

    Miss MJ October 23, 2018, 1:15 pm

    Oh, Wendy, I’m glad you had 19 good years, and I’m so sorry for your loss.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy October 23, 2018, 1:17 pm

    Thanks, you guys. The grief is a little overwhelming, to be honest, but reading your words helps. Simone was a soulmate and I know her physical absence can’t break our bond, but I sure do miss her.

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    • veritek33

      veritek33 October 23, 2018, 1:24 pm

      I hope Miles is doing okay. Good thoughts to you all.

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    • avatar

      Kate October 23, 2018, 1:35 pm

      I know, you can’t conceptualize, when you get that first kitty or dog in your 20s, what it’s going to be like when they eventually pass. It’s pretty devastating.

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  • avatar

    brise October 23, 2018, 5:51 pm

    I am very sorry. You had a very special connection. It is very sad to lose a dear cat. I experienced that too. I am still sad when I think of such a sweet companion.

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  • avatar

    Nitabee October 23, 2018, 8:50 pm

    I’m crying for you and your family. I’m so sorry for your loss, Wendy. I know how hard losing a beloved cat is.

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  • avatar

    Raquette October 24, 2018, 4:28 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Wendy. We said goodbye to our beloved Mina in April, and I know what a real mourning process it is (as a matter of fact I cried super hard reading your post). Mina has been gone for a while, now, but I still can’t look at pictures of her or remember random goofy things she did without pangs of grief.

    Wishing you and your family all the best. <3

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  • avatar

    Carol October 24, 2018, 6:15 am

    I’m so sorry. I am crying out loud for you. My 17 year old has a tumor that is killing him. I am waiting for the end. When you love your cats they bring so much to your life.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy October 24, 2018, 1:07 pm

    Thanks, everyone. I still can’t believe she’s gone. I’m sitting here on the sofa while Joanie’s napping, before we have to go pick up Jackson from school, and this is the time of day that always belonged to me and Simone. She’d curl up next to me while I worked on DW or read or replied to emails, and she’d rest a paw on my lap and purr and this is how it was nearly every weekday (and many weekends) for years and years and years, and now she’s gone and I’m sitting here alone and it feels like I have a big gaping hole in my heart. I know these intense feelings of grief will eventually pass, but at the moment it’s hard to think of much else. On the heels of my grandma’s passing just a few weeks ago, it feels compounded.

    I know I’m lucky to have enjoyed such big love, but ugh, the payment for it in the form of this grief now really sucks.

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  • avatar

    Hazel October 24, 2018, 6:40 pm

    so sad for your loss. you gave her a good long happy life and did the absolute kindest thing at the end. the vet in my family always says she wishes it was in our power to give humans a quiet loved end to pain. Doesn’t help your pain though, they are such dear beloveds. 🙂 x

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 24, 2018, 7:09 pm

      Oh, I totally agree that it would be a wonderful thing to give humans a humane and kind ending to their pain. My grandmother, for one, really suffered in her final weeks and she was on my mind when I decided to spare Simone the same agony. I don’t think there was a family member among us who wouldn’t have wanted to give my grandma the same gift had it been allowed. It’s a shame we don’t give our people the same compassion that we give our animals.

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  • avatar

    Hazel October 24, 2018, 6:41 pm

    dear god that was meant to be the opposite of a smile face I utterly utterly apologise.

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  • avatar

    Taylor October 25, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Hugs Wendy.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark October 25, 2018, 10:29 pm

    I just arrived to watch my friend’s cats for a week. All are cute — but Clem is so my little baby. She lounges beside me as I type away and keeps pestering me to scratch her ears which I could do until the end of time and she would still want more, more, more. 🙂

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  • avatar

    _s_ October 26, 2018, 2:33 pm

    Wendy I am so, so sorry to hear about your sweet girl. I know she knows she was loved and that you did right by her to the last.

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  • avatar

    Rachel Gullo October 26, 2018, 2:49 pm

    This is beautiful, Wendy. So sorry. I’ll miss her with you.

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