The message seemed pretty clear: "We've got your cat. He's wearing a shamrock collar. If that sounds like Baz, give us a call."
I could not have been more thrilled to get that message. Bazzy the Big Black Cat hadn't been in my house for two weeks, and I couldn't be sure he was the cat I'd seen skulking around the neighborhood. And now, HUZZAH, he'd been found!
I was at work but called back immediately and was put on hold, so I turned to the guy on my right and shouted, "They found my cat!"
"I didn't know he was missing," he replied.
I swiveled to my left.
"They found my cat!"
"I didn't even know you had a cat," he replied.
I swiveled behind me.
"They found my cat!"
The hold music stopped and the phone crackled to life. "So, we have your cat."
"YES!" I shouted. "Shall I come pick him up now or after work?"
I frowned and tried to understand how that answered the question of when I should leave. Then I told the woman I'd call back. As the sob-slash-howl rose up from my gut, I skittered outside to cut down on witnesses.
Much has been made of the delivery of that news. The friends I've told this story to are generally horrified, possibly just because they know how excited and relieved I would have been during those few minutes on hold.
But it got me to thinking: How could that news have been delivered in a more palatable way? Anyone who's ever had the odious task of telling someone their loved one is dead — pet or person — surely has a heavy burden. But I'm not sure leaving a detailed voicemail message is really the way to go.
I'm devastated to have lost my little buddy. There's no avoiding that. But instead of being pissed about how I was told, which — in the grand scheme of things — hardly matters, I've chosen to be glad for all the ways I didn't hear about it.
For instance, I was not woken from an afternoon nap under a large oak tree to the sound of an arrow whizzing through the air and landing in my chest, with a tiny scroll tied around the end. And then I didn't open that scroll with shaking, bloody fingers and read, "Your cat is dead."
A doorbell didn't rouse me from Sunday no-pants-detective-show-viewing-time, and I didn't then answer the door to find a scary clown present a singing telegram, "Oooh, Jeaniiiiiiine! We found! Your cat! Oooh, Jeaniiiiiiine! WefoundyourcatHE'SDEAD!"
I didn't wake up from a night out on the town with a dick drawn on the left side of my face and a picture of my cat on my forehead with Xs for eyes.
I did not attend a surprise birthday party where my dead cat popped out of a cake.
I was not called into HR and told, "You're fired. Pack your shit and be gone by the end of the day. Just kidding. But your cat is dead."
As I've gotten older, and the inevitable losses stack up, I find resigning myself to the grief works best. I'm just gonna wade through it. There's no need to add to the upset feelings by being angry about something that doesn't really matter. What does matter is he was a good cat and I'm gonna miss him.