Goodbye, Dear Friend

My phone rang around 9:30 yesterday evening. It was my dad. I assumed he was calling to discuss The Big Bang Theory, so I immediately launched into the discussion I wanted to have with him.

“Do you think that they’re adding too much girly-stuff into the show? I think the show is at the top of its game when it’s mostly science with the sexual tension undertones. I mean, I love all of the girls, especially the geeky ones, but if I wanted to watch a show about planning a wedding, I’d watch Brideszillas!”

He agreed with me. And then there was a pause.

Now, normally my dad loves to not only recap the show but launch into deep, philosophical questions about why our society believes what it does and acts how they do. He is who I go to when I want to discuss the whys of the world. He’s always up for discussion, especially for debate. So the pause was disconcerting. He ended it with a sniffle.

“Uh, I have some bad news.”

The last time my parents called with bad news, my grandfather had passed away suddenly. I sat up straight on the couch and braced myself.

“Steinway died.”


Steinway came to us in the winter of 1998. I was just turning 17. My first cat, Boo, had died the previous year and I had sworn, as most pet owners do, that I was never going to get another cat. Steinway was a stray that a family friend rescued at work, and upon seeing his sleek black body, white feet, white ascot and white whiskers on one side but black whiskers on the other side, I fell in love immediately. Like our previous cat, he was my cat.

To name him, I went through every letter of the alphabet and wrote down two names for each of those letters. Until I got to S. As he sat beside me, all black and white and love, I wrote down Steinway. If you don’t know my history, it would be a good time to let you know that Rachel from Glee and I shared something very important: We were musical theater geeks. I wrote down Steinway and didn’t write any more. He was named. My musical, loving, beautiful cat.

He was with me in my senior pictures (though not all of them). When I was pregnant with the Munchkin, he protected me. And, oddly as he was fixed, sprayed me. Twice. Apparently that’s a thing that happens. When I married my husband, Steinway had to stay with my parents. My husband is allergic to cats. At one point in time, a Post Secret card read something like, “My partner is allergic to cats and I resent him a little bit.” My husband accused me of sending it in. I didn’t. But I did always miss Steinway.

I visited with him whenever we visited The Farm. He was always my cat; funny and loyal and foot attacking. I always felt liked he looked at me with a sad gleam in his eye when I left. I had cat abandonment guilt. But my parents loved him and he was well cared for.

Mom told me last night that when she did the laundry earlier this week, he attacked her feet as he always did. I made a joke, through my tears, that seeing as he was my cat, it was probably his kidneys that gave out — like my old cat.

I cried on my husband, who let me cry on him despite sneezing at the thought of a cat. My eyes were puffy and my eye makeup was smeared as I realized: Steinway was the last cat I’ll ever own. My heart tugged a little more. Boo and Steinway were such great pets. I feel a bit of sadness knowing that the cat-owning phase of my life is completely over. Unless I outlive my husband, at which time it will be understood that I will become a crazy cat lady. (Because another husband? I think not.)

The pets from my childhood are now officially all gone. Alice in Wonderland, Boo, Pretty Patty, Casey and Steinway have all passed on from this world. I now feel the tug even more to get my sons a pet, but I realize that we’re not ready yet. In fact, this pain of loss pokes that soft spot in my heart that reminds me how deeply I feel these losses. I don’t think I could handle my sons dealing with such a loss either. Someday. Someday.

(As I moved out in 2003, pre-digital camera, I have zero pics of Steinway scanned. I should work on that.)


Shop LuLaRoe

13 Replies to “Goodbye, Dear Friend”

  1. Oh, I’m so so sorry!! Not only for your loss, but for the fact that you had to leave Steinway behind. Last year my beloved cat of nine years, Blues, disappeared while he was staying at our friend’s house in Philadelphia while we moved. I was devastated and cried and cried. The worst part for me was that my boys had both been diagnosed as allergic to cats (in spite of the fact they had both grown up around Blues and that I had never noticed any reactions) and I knew it would be hard to have another cat.

    We did adopt two kittens this summer, though, and they live in our garage and I let them go outside too. I plan to let them inside the house sparingly and to give them baths before I do. My youngest son’s allergy is not bad at all and he can be around them, but Kelvin is pretty allergic, so we’ll see how it goes. I literally couldn’t bear the thought of living without a cat and still don’t. I’m sorry you have to. :( (but of course a wonderful husband is worth more than millions of cute cats!). I’d love to see photos of Steinway when you get around to scanning them.

    I’m so so sorry!! [hugs]

  2. They are our family, and it hurts so much to lose them. Beautiful piece about love and loss. And I agree, Steinway was a wonderful name. And a very cool cat.

  3. I’m so sorry to read about Steinway, I can only imagine how you must feel. As I’m typing this my favorite cat “Chuck” is giving me the eye through the window. He’s telepathically wishing I’d go to the door and let him in I think! When a cat picks you as their special pet it’s a really awesome bond. Chuck (short for Charles), he gets Chucky, Chucky duck, and Chuckhead, sees me he drops everything and everyone and comes running to me. His half a meow sounds more like a squawk and I tease him about it all the time. My oldest daughter is allergic to everything but somehow became accustomed to our cats, maybe you could get a kitten and let your husband become accustomed to it by it being in the house a little here and there.

    1. I do not believe in outdoor pets. The “outdoor pets” in our neighborhood are a huge nuisance. The cats poop in my flower bed, under our deck and in the yard where my children play. I would never — NEVER — do that to another family.

  4. Yes, I’m sure that in many areas outdoor cats could be a problem but I live in an area where the properties are quite large and cats stick pretty close to home if they are spayed or neutered. My cats absolutely love being outside, I wouldn’t even consider locking them up indoors. Sounds like you’re not much of a cat person anyway.

  5. Brings tears to MY eyes. I love cats and have lost a few due to death and other circumstances. I believe we will see our pets in heaven. I would also like to see a picture of Steinway. Sorry for your loss Jenna.

  6. Pets truly are members of the family, so I am so sorry. We had two cats when I was growing up (Calvin and Hobbes) and Calvin quickly became MY cat. She was a little on the moody side, but she and I bonded instantly. No one else cared as much about her as I did. When I went off to grad school in North Carolina, I had to leave her behind. She started going downhill sometime in my second year of school, and, although she was getting old, my mom was convinced her decline was because I wasn’t home. I debated bringing her back to school with me after the Christmas break but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth traumatizing her with that big of a change. She didn’t make it through the semester, and I never really got to tell her goodbye. It was hard on me, especially since I was multiple states away all by myself, but I got through it, and you will too. And who knows? Maybe Calvin and Steinway are chasing the same mice up there somewhere. :)

    1. Thank you for such a beautiful and kind reply. Calvin and Steinway are surely having a ball. Also? LOVE the names Calvin and Hobbes. We have the whole collection in our house. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *