Tuesday, March 26, 2013


In the days following Bear’s passing, my mood controls the weather. On Sunday we are flush with memories, the thought of her being gone so suddenly still fresh and unprocessed and the day is beautiful. Full of sunshine and blue skies and the most magnificent sunset that stops us in our tracks on the road between our house and the neighbours’. Golden light floods the road, pure gold, edged with the deepest pink, casting solid blue shadows on snow banks and the white of the snow-covered road. It would have been a perfect day if Bear had been there to share it.

Monday it is grey. The sky so low I think the treetops might brush against it. It snows, slowly at first, white flakes drifting sadly down through the air. Bear would have loved this, we think, fresh snow to traipse through on her morning wander.

On Tuesday, by late morning, it is blowing an angry gale. At the barn where I work, I fight with sleds all day, my breath is sucked from my lungs. I have to sit on a pile of hay in the middle of the paddock on my way to feed the horses, so it won’t blow away. I almost blow away instead.

The wind sweeps right in to Wednesday. More stolen breath, but this time the sun shines brilliantly, blindingly off the fresh white snow.

And then the wind is gone as we stumble into the end of the week. By Thursday the sun appears early morning from behind clouds that started out thick and grey, thinning quickly until wispy and pink and then gone completely. It is a day for finding warm nooks for napping.

“Has anyone noticed that Bear’s gone?” Morgan asks when a week has almost passed. We had hoped for some kind of sign from the rest of the animals that the star of our show was no longer there. But they all carry on as before. Except, at first, the cats moved back upstairs to sleep on our bed after months of crowding in with Bear. I awoke in the night to an immovable weight at my feet.

Perhaps there would be a reaction from Murdoch, I think, if he and Bear had been playmates, but they never were. The two of them lived under the same roof, shared mealtimes and walked together every day, but everything they did was decidedly separate.

“Where’s Bear?” I ask Murdoch one day, just to see, and he stands tall, cranes his neck to look out the window up the trail down which Bear would wander every morning, appearing out of the forest like some kind of wood spirit. Sometimes she would come at a trot as if she just had a thought that she must be missing something inside, like a second breakfast or toast dropped on the floor or peanut butter.

Well, I think, at least he hasn’t forgotten.

It snows again by the end of the week. Dampness in the air holds on to the bite of winter even as fresh fallen snow melts into dirt roads, turns them into a soupy mess. We forget what it looks like here in the spring, we forget that it is green, and that early pink flowers come up in the garden, and that birds besides grouse and ravens appear in our trees, sing with the sunrise. We forget these things. But, I suppose, soon we will remember.


  1. My cat Gandhi was actually relieved when my cat Toby died. He was very bossy to her and cramped her style quite a bit. She has blossomed a lot since he has gone, so for her it has only been a good thing and I think my dog Tyke likes it better too. Toby was not a very sociable creature and he liked people much better than he liked the other animals. I think I am the only one who still misses him on occasion.

    1. Perhaps Toby would be happy to know he is only missed by you since he was a people cat!
      Animal relationships are so interesting. And it seems to me that cats and dogs have a better understanding/acceptance of life and death than we humans do.

  2. i wonder too how much the animals know. riley was very subdued after boscoe died, but he wouldn't go anywhere near the lifeless body, didnt seem interested or curious. he withdrew for weeks, hiding under tables, but i coudln't tell if it was the absence of boscoe, or feeling our grief, or just knowing that things had changed. so hard to tell.

    1. I remember reading about Riley after you lost Boscoe and thinking how different your experience was from when we lost Max. Our animals barely batted an eye after he was gone and I was kind of shocked. I guess I was more prepared for that reaction this time, but still, it would be nice to think Murdoch and the cats actually noticed Bear is gone. (I'm sure they do, in their own way).