It is only a Cat:
A Goodbye, to and from, an Old Man
Oh, God, Buster
When an old man weeps for a departed feral cat, an understanding of the old man’s bebavior is hard to come by. The most common consolatory words are: “It is only a cat.” For an old man, lost in grief following the death of what is “only a cat,” such words become a disparagement.
Many events influence the lives of men. For some men, some events are of a type which produce an irreparable tear in the fabric of their life. From such events, a man may carry a burden of guilt and sorrow for the remainder of his life. For such a man, the suspicion that he could have averted a life-altering event will forever be a terrible burden. If a situation, however minor, then presents itself, and a dedication is made to alter the course of a life, even if it is that of “only a cat,” a man, with such a cross to bear, might become engaged in a sort of pilgrimage only to again find, as his destiny, failure – old sorrows and guilt would become new. But this approach (he was “only a cat”) belittles the strength of the bond the old man had structured in his relationship with what was “only a cat.”
As most men enter old age, their eyesight tends to fade. In like manner, the patterns of their life’s fabric – the interwoven qualities which define the nature of each of us – tend to fade. The patterns in the fabric of the life of our old man had faded, and the fabric, itself, rendered into tatters. A failure on the part of the old man to avert a terrible, life-altering event has proved to be a lifelong burden. A confrontation with youth in all its exuberance was an invitation for the old man to share in that exuberance by bonding with its source. An abandoned, young animal, that had managed to find a spot, if not a home, was likely to be viewed by an old man as vulnerable, and in need of protection. That a young animal, such as Buster, might hold his own among older, aggressive companions might then be the cement to complete a bond; admiration and pity would offer the opposing faces. Such a bond does not confer ownership; Buster was one with His genetic inscriptions, inscriptions of a most harmonious nature in Buster’s case. To those inscriptions Buster remained true; it is not possible to own a cat. Although not consciously acknowledged by our old man, a relationship with Buster was the offer of a chance at some sort of redemption, even if by proxy. This trial was cut short when life, that miniscule part each cat is granted, was crushed out of Buster; in the act, something also went out of the old man. With sorrow and a heavy heart, our old man still looks for Buster (Oh God, Jay). In the final analysis, the old man was more in need of Buster, and his many qualities, than was Buster of him. Buster, rest in peace (Oh God, Buster).