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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What the Dickens?

The photo is from Barnados, a childrens charity in London in the 19th century. 


Argh! I have a new phone because the old one stopped staying charged plus a few more foibles. My phone cost $400 five years ago so it makes sense that it stopped working reliably, right? If an appliance worked like this we would burn that manufacturer to the ground.

Swan Story


I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s writing lately and I have decided there is too much to read. Much of it is very good but there is JUST TOO MUCH!

So my goal going forward is to write shorter posts, more often, that might remind you of the glory, power, and goofiness of your life as well as mine.

So, let me say again what’s always very true. Thank you for reading what I write.


About My Memorial Day Story


Today my story ‘Memorial Day’ is posted at Substack. Read it here. 

Courage, Big & Little



I’m writing fiction this week. I started a story in December that, along the way, turned into a Memorial Day story. It will be my Substack story this Saturday.

This morning I looked for an old newspaper column to rerun and found this one about a time when one of our kids needed to have four teeth pulled.

Cholesterol Numbers & Squirrels


Years ago I was out to dinner with friends. We were all just entering our 40’s and thus were all beginning to get the fun medical tests about this and that and cholesterol. I said, to a friend next to me, that I’d started eating oatmeal everyday for breakfast and my cholesterol had dropped …..

The room went silent.

Everyone heard “cholesterol dropped” and stopped speaking. Everyone wanted to hear how much it had dropped – which was about 8 points. In our twenties the conversation stopper was gossip about sex. Now the secret sauce was HDL and LDL

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