In early fall 2002, I didn’t yet work in a library and my library at home was significantly smaller, but I did get the first element of a true library: my own library cat. This small, orange creature, who was scared of even his shadow, spent his first few months hiding under the desk of my student room. He was small and nervous and very, very fluffy, so we decided to him call him Elmo. It took a while, but after a week or two of mainly hearing him scuffling around at night, he finally came out of his hiding place and made it to the sofa.
Soon he’d make his way over for a cuddle as soon as you came home and he became the king of our home. And for me especially he became a pillar of reassurance. Even when my depression became so bad, I’d not leave the house if I didn’t have to and I felt like a failure on all counts, Elmo was there for a cuddle, loving me without judgement and without reserve, as long as I fed him regularly of course … he was still a cat.
He grew into a regal cat, who remained skittish, but as the years progressed (and our home became bigger) he became bolder and braver. The biggest test of his bravery came in the form of the two little humans that joined his household. While they were really tiny, and not very mobile, they were fine. Then came a period of icy tolerance. But once he figured out that here were four little, unflagging petting hands — and Emma and Cat figured out he was an expert cuddler — they became fast friends.
Once we moved into his final home, Elmo truly settled and he became fearless or perhaps he just reached the age where he couldn’t be bothered to move when things got loud around him. He loved lying by me on the sofa, though once I took up knitting, he’d abandon me for Wiebe whenever Wiebe sat down to watch TV and demand he’d pet him.
In the past few months he’d been losing weight and started to look a little scruffy. We figured he was getting old and he needed to go from kibble to wet food because his teeth were acting up. And he started eating better, but he wasn’t getting stronger. Last week we took him to the vet and while things looked precarious, she was hopefully we could get him back on track and keep him around for a while longer. Unfortunately, the treatment didn’t get a chance to work, he’d become too weakened to pull through and on Sunday he left us.
For almost sixteen years Elmo was an integral part of my family. He was my cat and I was his preferred human. On the one hand I feel silly for being so upset about losing him; it is not as if there aren’t a thousand more awful things happening in the world right now. Yet, here I am: heartbroken. I can’t believe I’ll never get to hug him again, to call him Smelmo, when the occasion called for it (and believe me, it often did), to just know that however horrible my day has gone or how much my anxiety is playing up, he’ll be there to let me know that nothing is as important as feeding him, thank you very much.
And while I know there will be other cats in my life in the future and that I’ll love them just as much, Elmo was the first pet that was all mine, who I chose myself. He was my gorgeous orange boy and right now, I just know that I will miss him so very, very much.
Goodbye Elmo. You were the bestest cat in the world and I love you.