Farewell to our Snow Angel.
by Cherri Ellis
The first time I laid eyes on Snow Angel, she was a miniscule, solid white kitten with enormous blue eyes. She was seated in my husband’s outstretched palm and wearing a Santa hat to ridiculously cute effect. My 12-year-old daughter had plucked her from the confines of the Shelby Humane Society and that was that. They were instantly inseparable, Snow Angel so small she could fit in the pocket of Chelsea’s robe. Little did we know, the joke was on us. Because somehow the white kitten grew into a grey striped cross-eyed twenty pound cat who hated everyone but Chelsea. Whole parties would erupt into laughter when someone would try to pet her and she would full out hiss at them, but was too lazy to move away from the offender. She was so big that every time someone would come to work on anything at the house, it was just a matter of time before they would comment on her size. When we took her to the vet once, I said “We think she’s fat, but you guys probably see much bigger than her all the time.” The doctor was quiet as she mentally reviewed her feline patients. “Nope,” She said. “She’s the biggest one we’ve seen.”
That was fine by me. Not everyone has to be an Olympic athlete, and that cat loved my daughter with a zeal that few get to enjoy in life. She slept on her bed, sat next to the tub when she took a bath, and wanted to have her paws on the notepaper as Chelsea did her homework. I developed the bizarre habit of dressing the cat up. Don’t judge. There are some really cute garments out there for animals, and if I wasn’t supposed to dress my cat up on holidays or ball games then why do they make jerseys in her size? (Dog Large)
Snow Angel was so cool that she inadvertently developed her own following. She was featured in two cable commercials. (Alright…She knew someone in the business.) My friend Hunter Cressel took a shot of her napping and created a social media phenomena by photo–shopping her both as the Hindenburg and as battling Godzilla.
Everyone knows that having a pet has fantastic benefits. Pet ownership can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve cardiovascular health, and relieve depression. Having to care for something other than yourself is good for you psychologically. Plus, how else will you ever experience true adoration? Your spouse knows your faults, your friends are onto all of your bull, your kids think you’re a dork—but your dog or cat thinks you’re the bomb 24/7. They tend to see things in black and white, and to your pet you are never cooler than when you are opening a can of tuna. Tuna fish is the Crack Cocaine of the cat set. It is so good to them that after tasting it one time, they will come ripping into the kitchen from anywhere in the house at the sound of the can opener on the off chance that it is tuna being opened.
When we returned from being out of town for a few days over the holidays this year, we found Snow Angel unable to move her back legs. She had developed a condition that had paralyzed her from the waist down, and she appeared to be in great pain. A few days later at the vet’s office, we made the agonizing decision to put her to sleep.
There is not much more horrible than pulling the plug on someone you love, and I sometimes think God invented suffering in order to allow us to let go. I have been through it before, as it is the tragic reality that our pets will not live as long as us. I knew what to expect. As kind and professional as the vet was, there is simply no good way to do it. We were allowed time in a room alone to visit with her, and she was awake and did not appear to be in pain. She had been given a bath and smelled like a twenty pound pina–colada, and she looked back at us as we stroked her head and told her what a good kitty she was and how much we loved her. The first injection put her to sleep, and the second one stopped her heart, and I hated it so much that I am crying as I type this.
We went home without her, and slowly adjusted to the feeling in the house that her absence brought. Life, as life must, went on, and eventually we were okay again. One day, weeks later, I was happily bouncing around the house when I started to flop down on the couch and take a break. Without thinking, I instinctively checked underneath myself mid air to make sure I wasn’t landing on Snow Angel as she napped. When I realized that I wouldn’t need to perform that particular maneuver anymore, it hit me hard and I cried like I meant it.
Loss sucks. Loss is a part of life that anyone would want to avoid, but we have to remember: you had to have had something really great if the absence of it is that painful. That’s how love works. No matter the outcome, you get to keep the good part. Lucky, lucky us.
Now when I see Snow Angel’s Alabama jersey (or sundress or Medieval Knight outfit…alright I may have a problem) I will smile and remember her how she was happiest…asleep in a sunbeam with a full belly and her girl by her side.
If you don’t have a pet, get one. Better yet, go to the Humane Society and rescue an animal. It will help make up for some of the crappier things you’ve done in your life, and you may find out that you are actually the one who got saved.