Mary Beth Writes


Our two sister cats Weijia and Yamiche, whom we usually called Lil Girl and Big Girl, passed away three weeks ago. They were slowly becoming ill and then it went fast. Lil Girl tucked herself into a nook she’d never napped in before, stopped eating and drinking, just slept. Big Girl was still eating but not much. She’d always been the one that when we went into the kitchen, she’d wander in to see if she could wrangle a bit of wet food from us. In general, she could. When we first adopted her the vet said she could stand losing a pound or two. Hah, so could Len and I. They were already old; we didn’t put anyone on a diet. There was more going on, but to preserve their dignity and ours, they had simply become very ill. They were 18. We didn’t ask the vet to diagnose or cure them. For both it was just falling asleep with us petting them.

It took several years for my instincts to catch up to reality after my mother passed away.

I had three kids, the youngest was a baby. Mom lived five hours away so driving to visit was rare. Mostly we’d talk on the phone every week or so. I loved those calls. Often the kids were around and would ‘talk to Grandma’ which is a joy only for an adult who adores the incomprehensible child. No one on earth wanted to hear about my kids more than my mom. She would often say Len and I were good parents; remember how good it felt when someone would say that?

She passed away after several months of an illness from which we thought she would recover. It happened fast. One week we were visiting her in Ludington. She was talking with us, reading picture books to the kids, offering them cookies. The next week she was gone.

Over the following year I’d often reach for the phone to call and then remember she wasn’t there. I was glad she was no longer uncomfortable and anxious. I was glad to not feel guilty about not being a better daughter. But oh, it ached.

I began to understand that the moments when I missed her most were still a kind of love and communication. If I baked something better than average, I wanted to tell her about it. I wanted to tell her the goofy or endearing or obnoxious things the kids did. I wanted to tell her how much they loved some present she’d given them. She knew some of our friends, I wanted to tell her how they were doing.

The ache kept reminding me of the perfectly imperfect relationship I was lucky enough to have had in my life. Not everyone gets a steady, kind, and loving mother. I didn’t always miss her but I deeply missed that parts of my life that she and I had shared.


I start down our stairs on the lookout for cats who might trip me. I walk into the kitchen to emptiness at the corner with no kibble on the floor. We eat breakfast and then get on with our day, no one has to battle poop in and out of the basement litter boxes. I take a nap, start to arrange pillows in a specific way so Big Girl doesn’t sit on my phone which turns off the podcast, then remember it doesn’t matter anymore. At night no one jumps on me or gets their fur stuck to my lips. We went out of town and didn’t have to organize a D-Day invasion to take care of them. It’s so much easier now.

I know by how many times in a day I’m arranging myself around the space where they used to be, how much I loved them.





You really nailed the feeling of the letdown that's felt when the instantaneous feeling of wanting to pick up the phone, share an experience, or even clean a litterbox, is no longer necessary or possible. The sinking sense of loss that occurs in those moments is a painful stab to the heart. Trying to train your heart to live with the love they gave, rather than the loss, is a challenge.

The painted stones are so incredibly beautiful! Where did you get those?
Mary Beth's picture

Aren't the paw stones beautiful? A friend visited us this week and the next day we found these two stones in two places in our house where the cats often hung out. If she tells me where she obtained them, or if she painted them herself, I will let you know.
Mary Beth's picture

She says she got them from Etsy. It took a couple weeks for them to arrive.

This is beautiful. They were always a bother, and always a wonder. Little girl leapt gracefully from the table to the counter, daring me to take a picture of her mid-air. Big girl caught a mouse, a mixed blessing. But every day they marked out the spaces in which we would remember them, and be reminded how fragile it is to love someone.

You did hit all the feelings right on the head. Cats and your Mom, I totally empathize. The stones are so pretty.
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you.

That story is a real tear jerker, and I mean that in the kindest way. I’m so sorry for your loss.

My deepest condolences for your loss my friends.. We always had a Pair and a Spare (Italian Greyhounds) around the house along with all the foster dogs we took in.. As the final numbers went from 3 to 2 and finally to that last little girl our hearts felt the deep sense of loss but our minds were at peace because we got to share the insanity and craziness of sharing our lives with these amazing little creatures.. Our hearts are empty and full at the same time.. It's amazing how much joy they bring..
Mary Beth's picture

Beautifully said.

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The Lies We Live By


Aristotle wrote a lot of important stuff, very little of which I’ve read. But this Aristotelian idea is cool and I don’t know why we are not taught this in high school. It helps untangle the importance of what we read and watch.

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(Now that I've finished and read what I wrote, I guess this is five things but some days, in our expanding universe, the math just works this way,)

Successful & Failed Artists


Last week I finished reading Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard. (I discovered this book via Librarian of Burgos Instagram because I am her fangirl now.)

If you like to read a book that has a recognizable plot of sympathetic characters moving forward through a problem to a solution– you will likely not enjoy this novel. Heck, I’m not sure if I ‘enjoyed’ it.

Animals of Winter


Last week I invited you to submit pictures of animals who are visiting your life these days.

The Republic of False Truths


I set a goal for this year to read one translated modern novel every month. I’ve been following ‘Librarian of Burgos’ on Instagram and this woman keeps hyping and explaining books I’ve never heard of, which intrigues me mightily. I think she might be a reader’s reader. Anyways, she is European, has transcendently luminous skin plus several master’s degrees and a doctorate in history. Sometimes she even recommends books that are not, sadly she says, not yet translated into English. Cracks me up.

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Change is coming but not today.

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