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Writer's Block: Ready, steady, read

What is the best book you've read this year, and why?
This year's best book, for me anyways, was The Cat Who'll Live Forever. No, I am not talking about Lillian Jackson Braun's "Cat Who" series...it is by Peter Gethers about his beloved cat, Norton. It is the third of three books he's written about his gray Scottish Fold, and while it was written some time ago, I staunchly refused to read it.

When I was in High School, I read the first two books about Norton, and loved them. They were and still are some of my favorite books. I even wrote to Mr. Gethers once, asking a few questions and for some clarification on things in the books, and to of course proclaim how much I enjoyed his writing. His reply (hand-typed on a typewriter, and signed no less!) was kind, informative and answered all of my questions, and only made me respect him and his lovely cat even more. Most authors I've written to never replied...hell I'm unsure if they ever received my letters.


Like many, MANY people, I adored Norton. I may never have met him but I loved him; reading about his antics, and his relationship with his human companion...I adore that little cat.

When I heard that the third book about Norton was out, I went out straightaway to buy it...and saw the title. And read the blurb. And realized...oh my god, NORTON IS DEAD.

I set the book down, turned away, and never looked at it again. Somehow I figured, if I never read the book, I could blissfully pretend Norton is still alive somewhere, charming cat lovers and anti-cat people alike, sampling fine fare in Europe's best restaurants or enjoying a vacation on Fire Island. If I never read the words, it was like it never happened, right?

In short, I was too afraid to deal with the loss of a cat I've never even met. Cowardly, sure.

Problem is, I knew. I couldn't NOT know. Hiding myself from that fact failed to keep that anxiety and grief away. There was nothing to be done.

When I had to have my beloved Shadow euthanized...well, first of all it was too soon after Sam, and frankly I just wasn't sure how to cope with it. Shadow was a wonderful, beautiful cat...and a part of my family. An important part of my life. I didn't really know what to do with myself...I don't always handle grief and loss very well. Give me the death of a human, and I'm more or less okay, s'not like I haven't had to come to grips with that kind of loss...but I cope so well in part due to my reliance on my pets. To have to deal with the loss of one of my companion animals...I was feeling loss and at a loss.

I ordered the book The Cat Who'll Live Forever. Suddenly it felt very important that I read it. I don't even understand why it felt so important to me...perhaps some part of me felt that if Shadow was gone at least Norton would have led the way. I really don't know. What I do know is how glad I am that I finally read the damn book...it was beautiful, and while of course saddening, it also presented a lot of joy, hope and self-discovery for Mr. Gethers. It also made me feel as if I'm not alone...we've all suffered loss and pain and grief, if we haven't then we either haven't lived long enough or we haven't been living at all, just existing. I learned a lot from reading the book and at long last I can face the loss of both a cat I've never met and a cat who I've shared my home and my life with for many years: by focusing on what they taught the people around them about life and how to live.

I know it may sound sappy but it's true...and I'm grateful to Mr. Gethers for sharing some of his relationship with his companion, Norton.

Lastly, the epilogue in the edition I bought made me feel comfortable and confident in moving forward with myself in light of my grief. It also makes me feel happy and grateful to have dear little Ember with me now, curled up and napping under my desk.

The sad fact is that no companion animal ever seems to live long enough to suit their human friends, but even when facing the loss of a loved pet, we should be grateful they were a part of our lives at all, and be glad of the time we have or had with them, and remember all the goodness and joy they brought us. All of that is worth the pain when they pass.

I'd rather suffer grief for her death than have never known Shadow at all. Mr. Gethers and his cat Norton have helped me to realize that fact.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Dec. 6th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
Awww that's very touching. I have no idea what I will do when my cats are at the point of the bridge. I haven't lost a cat in my life since my childhood cat, and I while I do love them the deaths of my pet rats do not compare, probably because with a cat they share every aspect of my life at home.

Have you found the cat_lovers community on here? I'm sorry, I don't know how to make a link. It's always filled with good stories about people and their cats, sometimes questions for advice but usually just a lot of cute pictures and short "this was a funny moment with my cat!"

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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