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  • Writer's pictureAva Marie LaMonica

A Letter to Barnabas St. Valentine

"I wish I met you sooner, so I could love you longer."

I thought I wouldn't be writing this letter for several years...but after only six weeks and five days, we lost you.

We adopted you on Valentine's Day.

When I saw your big face, beautiful green eyes, and the brown striped fur which shined amber in the sunlight, I was instantly drawn to you.

You came right up to us with confidence. You knew just how to make an impression with your frequent meows and rolling over to be petted.

The epitome of a "gentle giant".

There was no hesitation. You were ours.

My first male cat.

The hole in my heart from the passing of Ireland could never be mended, but with you in my life, I started to feel a little better each day.

You gave me a new profound love. You made me realize that the bond with an animal could never be replicated, but that was okay. Because you gave me a new, unique, and unconditional love.

I envisioned all the years we would have together. I envisioned taking you to live with me in Arizona one day. Hiking through the mountains with you in one of those cat backpacks. I thought we'd have more time...why didn't we have more time?

If only I knew what your condition was. If we knew how sick your heart was we never would've taken you for that procedure. A simple, routine procedure that shouldn't have taken you from us.

The guilt is suffocating. I keep looking for someone to blame, but whoever that is, it'll never bring you back.

When I heard the news, I was in disbelief. Distraught, but in denial.

Death and grief have become almost a casualty to me. I still am grieving over my first one, but three in a year, my heart can't take any more pain.

Another, "I'm so sorry," from the vet.

Another, "I'm sorry for your loss," from friends and family.

Another, "It will get better."

Another, "Time heals."

Another empty crate.

Another sympathy card.

Another piece of fur.

Another paw print.

Another urn.

Nothing that will bring back you.

You slept with me all night before your surgery, curled up in a ball by my pillow. If I could go back in time, I would've kept you there and never let go.

And maybe it was soon to be your time. Maybe this was a premature relief to any suffering you hid. Maybe I met you for a reason. Knowing your sickness may have led me to never know you. I was there for you to give you the best love you could receive in the time you had left.

I'd like to think that, but nevertheless, I wish I knew why.

And I wish, more than anything...that I got to say goodbye.

I could think of you as just our foster cat, rather than one of our own. One who slipped in for a temporary stay. Maybe this approach will help me cope.

But I couldn't. I only knew you for a month, but you were ours.

So as I look back on my life, I will remember you as that special cat whose time was cut short far too soon.

The one who came to me at a time of grief.

The one who jumped onto the highest piece of furniture.

The one who wasn't afraid of water.

The one who knew just where the cans of food resided and would try to eat anything in sight.

The one who held on tighter upon being picked up.

The one who curled up, sound asleep in my arms.

The one whose very presence calmed me and assured me that everything would be okay.

I love you, Barnabas. I loved you from the moment and I saw you and I always will.

We will never forget the pawprint you etched on our hearts.

Fly with the angels, Barnabas St. Valentine

Bask in the white light and flourish in the endless fields and valleys with the sisters you've never met in this life.

You entered my life on Valentine's Day, the day of love, and left this Earth on Good Friday, the day of mourning.

Maybe that's why your name was "Angel".

R.I.P. Barnabas St. Valentine
December 22nd, 2017-April 2nd, 2021

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