Ever since my cat Tweetie died a few months ago, Dove has asked me more than once, “When is Tweetie coming back?” I can’t stand the idea that she may think he is waiting somewhere for me to come and get him and bring him home, and I just haven’t done it. When she asked me again this past weekend, I sat down with her and asked her if she understands what happened with Tweetie and why he isn’t with us anymore. She said no.
I tried to explain why Tweetie is gone, that he loves us but he can’t be with us, and that he can’t come back. I told her I truly believe he is still with us as long as we think about him and remember him, and I placed my hand over my heart and said, “Tweetie will always be with us in our hearts.”
Dove shot me a skeptical look and shook her head. “But our hearts are this little,” she said, holding one hand up and making a small circle with her tiny fingers, “and I love Tweetie this big!” She expanded her arms as far out as she could.
I had to agree with her there, but I assured her that our love for Tweetie fit into our seemingly tiny hearts.
She asked, “But we can talk about him and play about him?”
I said, “Yes. Definitely.”
Then I told her, “I know one thing for sure.”
She asked, “What?” and I said, “Tweetie loved you.”
She smiled, looked up at the ceiling like she was praying, and said, “Thank you, Tweetie.”
And it was true, really. My grumpy old man cat who couldn’t be bothered with niceties would lean into Dove’s hand as she scratched his chin, and he would purr and purr as she pet him (once we taught her to pet him in the right direction, anyway). He tolerated her wadding him up like a doll and squeezing him, and his demonstration of any irritation never went beyond shooting me a withering look when he was being suffocated with hugs and kisses.
I still think about Tweetie every day. He was one of a kind, and there was definitely only one Tweetie (to which Gary says, “Thank goodness!”)