“We knew my mother was very sick for a while, and that she didn’t have long to live. She lived in Denver, and I live in New York. I visited her at the start of last August and we knew she was getting bad, but we thought she had a few more months at least, so I went back to the city. Two weeks later, my roommate and I stumbled across an ad for Ace and his siblings, who were part of a TNR, but were too little to be released. We were interested in a companion for my other cat, Holly, who was rescued from an abusive household and needed a friend. When we went to meet them, Ace started purring like crazy. He crawled into my lap and then my purse. He was obviously begging me to take him home, so I did.
The very next day, we got the call that my mom had taken a turn for the worse and needed to be moved into hospice. I flew home to be with her. At the end, she couldn’t talk or open her eyes, but my sister and I took turns staying awake with her at night and telling her stories. I’m not religious, but I told her that it seemed like Ace had been sent to help me after she left. She smiled at that. My mom loved animals (When she died, we had people send gifts to the Boulder Valley Humane Society). She knew I loved my cats, too. In the last voicemail I have from her, she told me to “kiss Holly for her.” So I think she really loved knowing that I had Ace to go home to after she died.
Ace and Holly were so helpful for me because I feel like animals can understand in ways humans can’t. None of my friends had ever been through anything like I had, so I didn’t really feel like I could talk to anyone about it, but with Ace and Holly I didn’t have to say anything. They knew I was sad and they each took care of me in their own way. Holly watched over me while I slept and Ace made sure to keep me busy during the day. He gets into lots of trouble! And most of all, my cats were so patient with me. That fur’s soaked up a lot of tears! I love them so much!”
Alex Bak is a 7th grade science teacher.