But sometimes it feels distinctly unfair. So it was with Cleo.
By any standard, Cleo seemed to be a very, very fortunate girl. Blessed with movie-star good looks and glamour of the big, fluffy variety, she waltzed into Tabby’s Place at the ripe old age of nine, only to find a forever home with a loving adopter almost immediately. As you can imagine, this is not the norm for older cats…especially not older cats who abhor cats as much as Cleo did.
But, these “strikes” notwithstanding, Cleo wasted no time in finding a wonderful new mom who was excited to love her just the way she was. Cleo would be an “only cat,” which would make up for the indignity of having had to share her reign with 16 riff-raff roomies in our Suite B.
No sooner had Cleo hit this forever-home jackpot than things began to go downhill – swiftly. Cleo became terribly ill almost immediately, and, despite the best efforts of her new mom and vet, succumbed to primary liver failure less than a week after her adoption.
No matter how many cats we love and lose, some sink especially deeply into my soul, aching as only such a loss can do. Cleo’s passing brought just such an ache. I confess that I was haunted by her death for a very long time, which is why I’m only now, two months after her passing, able to give words to her story. For weeks I literally dreamed of Cleo, her fluffy face and sweet, wide eyes stinging my heart with sorrow. Oh, Cleo, we hardly knew you – and yet you were such a force of nature at Tabby’s Place, such a mighty source of love.
It’s that love that brings me some peace in all this sorrow. While Cleo’s passing will always ache, will never feel right, the love that defined her life makes her story something other than a tragedy. You see, Cleo was one of those rare and blessed cats who never knew a moment, from birth to death, when she wasn’t adored.
Cleo was the devoted darling of a doting human bean for the first eight and a half years of her life, and she loved every minute of it. I do believe that Cleo’s sassy confidence and easy trust came from the good love she’d received all her life. Love was all she knew, so, naturally, it was all she expected. Oh, that every cat should know such love!
When Cleo’s original adoptive mama became ill and had to enter an assisted living facility, she and her family were devoted to ensuring that Cleo would continue to get the care and love she’d always known. Their diligent research led them to Tabby’s Place and the Exceptional Circumstances Program. Tearfully, but with great peace, Cleo’s family handed her off from love to love.
There was no gap in Cleo’s lovestream as she left her first mama’s arms and came to us. We adored her immediately – and her amazing personality only deepened that affection. Although Cleo was with us only a short time (which is also why we have so few photos of her), she quickly became a staff and volunteer favorite. I am far from alone in saying that Cleo will always own sizable real estate in my heart.
And Cleo’s life of love wasn’t done. Again she would dance from love to love, leaving our arms for those of her wonderful adopter. From kittenhood to the last days of her life, Cleo was adored and knew it with all her soul.
Any tragic tones to Cleo’s story are swallowed up in love. I believe with all my heart that sorrow can’t hold a candle to love – love just laughs and gobbles it up, sorrow’s darkness vanishing in love’s marvelous light. Today, Cleo is loved more fully than any of her (many) earthly adorers could muster, held in the very arms of the One who is Love.
An ache? Always. But an unfair tragedy? Not by a long shot. Cleo, I love you always. Until we meet again, may you know only love.