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November 6, 2013 / kristicolleen

Sebastian, 1994-2013

Dear Sebastian:

You died yesterday.

It doesn’t seem real.

Almost 20 years ago, you were born in my bed (with me in it), and yesterday I held you and kissed your head as you took your last breath.

You were my baby, my best friend, my partner, and so much more.

My life was changed forever when I was 10 years old and you were born. It has been changed again now that you’re gone.

You taught me so much as we grew up together.

You taught me how to love. You taught me how to be responsible. You taught me how to not only take care of you, but how to take care of myself.

You saved my life.

All those times when things just seemed so hard, and so bleak, and I didn’t want to go on anymore, you gave me a reason to keep trying. I can’t count how many times I told myself “As long as Bastian’s still alive, I have to be, too”.

I was told many times over the years that I should give you up, that things would be so much easier if I didn’t have you, and I refused. I was insulted at the suggestion. I wanted to ask them if they’d give up their children if life became difficult. You didn’t make my life harder, you made it better.

We’ve been through so much, you and I. 20 years makes for a lot of memories. Some of them were bad, but a lot of them were good, and I wouldn’t trade any of them.

All those times when we were both scared of Dad, because he was going to hurt one or both of us, and we hid under my bed. And then I got too big to hide under the bed, so we hid together in my closet. When we became adults and we were scared of other things, we’d hide together under blankets (and occasionally in the closet, too).

All the times you’d come with me for walks, and the neighbours would always stop and exclaim how strange it was that you followed me around like a dog. You’d even follow me to work until I realized it was too dangerous and you were too important to me to risk having you get hurt, and you became an indoor cat permanently. That wasn’t before you had brought me many “presents” in the form of half-dead and sometimes completely-alive animals, though. The live snake in 2003 was a personal favourite of mine. The time in the late 90s when you left a live squirrel in my brother’s room was also a crowd-pleaser.

You went missing once, for 4 days. You had followed me on a walk again, and this time a dog ran out of a yard and chased you. I was terrified that I had lost you, and my friends, family, and I searched night and day, calling your name. Then you showed up while we were eating dinner and you almost seemed insulted that we were just sitting around and not looking for you. I don’t know where you went, but you never went there again.

You were there when I started junior high and had my first boyfriend. You were there in high school when I had my first serious boyfriend. You were there when I was 17 and I had finally had enough of the abuse at home and we ran away to live with said-boyfriend. You were there when I met Matt. You moved in with Matt before I did, thanks to an infestation of fleas in that horrible dump of an apartment we lived in in Abbotsford. You were there when I married Matt, and weren’t too happy we didn’t take you on our honeymoon. I worried about you the whole time we were gone, though. In fact, I worried about you for 20 years.

You were there when Matt left us. You stayed by my side as I cried more than I had ever cried, and I’m sure your fur stayed wet for at least 3 weeks.

You were there for all the guys I dated, including Mr. FancyPants, who didn’t like cats, and you chose whenever he came over to decide you weren’t scared of men anymore and made sure to get his trousers and fancy suits covered in your hair. Thank you for that.

You were there when I finally fell in real love for the first and only time (other than with you), and you fell in love with him, too. When I was away for 10 days, and you went to stay with him, he understood that when we Skyped, it was only because I wanted to Skype with you. You were also there when he broke my heart. Both times.

You also got to travel a lot. Like the time we flew from Prince Rupert to Vancouver (and back), and on the way down, I put you in the cargo hold and felt guilty about it for our entire trip. On the way back, I asked if I could take you as my carry-on, and they told me your carrier was too big, but then they gave you your own seat, free-of-charge. The flight attendants were so smitten with you that they kept bringing you coffee creamers to drink the entire flight.

Or when we drove across Canada from Chilliwack to Moncton, and I mistakenly thought you’d stay in your carrier the entire time. You lasted about 10 minutes before I felt so guilty I had to let you out, and you spent the rest of the week sitting on my lap, looking out the window, or happily sleeping on my teddy bear in the backseat. When we ran out of gas in the middle of the night outside Regina, and it was freezing (it was March, after all), you kept me warm until a gas station opened up.

I’ve never known a cat who craved attention as much as you. If you weren’t in my lap, or snuggled in my arms, you had to keep me within reach at almost all times. There were even times when I knew you were hungry and had to make the tough decision between food or being near me. Most of the times I’d just take pity on you and go stand by you while you ate.

When I went to the bathroom, you were there. When I took a bath, you were there (and never noticed your tail dangling in the water). When I cooked dinner, you were always underfoot. When I slept, you wanted to be there, but most nights I had to lock you in your own room so I could sleep, otherwise you’d just poke me all night and wonder why I wasn’t waking up and snuggling you.

You were my happy place; my safe place. My most favourite thing in the world was to kiss your forehead, to press my nose into your fur, and inhale. I can’t describe what you smelled like, but it was always comforting to me, and the way you held still and pushed into me told me it was comforting to you, too. That was what we were doing when you died. We were both in our safe place in that moment, and I will never forget that.

Everyone who knew you loved you. You were special. You not only touched my life, but you touched others, too. As Andrew said yesterday, you’ve now left an opening for Best Cat in the World, and it’s going to be a really hard position to fill. It will never be filled for me. The position should be retired, like a hockey player’s number, because nobody is ever going to come close.

You were everything to me. I wanted you to live forever. I knew you couldn’t, but that didn’t keep the small part of me that thinks we might one day be able to time travel from hoping it was possible.

Last year we moved to Halifax. We fell in love with this city, and it felt like we had finally found our place in this world, with people who loved us. I was looking forward to finally feeling comfortable and safe with you. Now I have to do it alone. I don’t know if I can.

For years, we’ve had a routine where every day when I got home from work, we’d lay on the couch or bed for at least 30 minutes, and do nothing but cuddle. I’d change out of my work clothes so you could lay on my chest and they wouldn’t get covered in hair and drool. When I got home today, I didn’t have to change. I didn’t lay down on the couch or bed. Instead, I fell on my knees on the living room floor and I cried. I sat there and I expected to feel your wet nose in my armpit, but you didn’t come. You won’t ever again.

We both grew up learning that we couldn’t trust anyone but each other. You were scared of everyone until you got to know them, and I always expected everyone was going to hurt me. In the past few years, you’ve changed, and you’ve started warming up to people, trusting them, and you’ve helped me start to trust them, too. We were just getting started, and now you’re gone. Who will I trust not to hurt me now?

You were my constant. We’ve been abandoned by so many people, and through it all, we stayed together. You kept me from truly feeling alone in this world, and now I’m scared. I don’t know what to do by myself. I need you here to make me feel okay.

But you had a long life. You were loved. So much. More than anything. You gave me so much, and I will forever be grateful for that. You were sick, and it was time for you to go. I couldn’t have asked for more than what I had with you, because it was perfect, and nothing can beat that.

Thank you for being brave for me. Thank you for helping me be strong.

I am hurting more than I have ever hurt my entire life, but I wouldn’t give it up, because I know it means you’re not hurting anymore. I did so much for you, because it’s the only way I could ever repay all that you did for me.

The term “best friend” doesn’t seem adequate to describe what you were to me. You were so much more than that, and I may be good with words, but describing my feelings for you seems impossible.

I love you.

We’re going to bury you someplace beautiful, beneath a magnolia tree that looks amazing in the Spring, and you’ll be near the people I love, and I’ll be able to come visit your grave whenever I want. I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.

I miss you so much already, and I still can’t believe you’re gone. Just yesterday I woke up with you licking my face. Now I’m afraid to turn on the lights because I know I’ll see the empty space on the bed where the only thing left to remind me of you is a clump of your hair. I’m not ready to see that yet. If I keep the lights out, it doesn’t hurt as much.

I have so much more I want to say to you. You knew all my secrets, my fears, my pains, my loves. I told you everything, and now I have nobody to talk to. When I was sad, you’d comfort me, and now you’re not here to do that, and I’m the saddest I’ve ever been.

But don’t feel bad. We had so much time together, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for keeping me going.

Thank you for everything.

I miss you.

I love you.

This was the last photo I took of us. It was taken yesterday before we left for the vet. There was one taken later, but I'm not ready to see that yet.

This was the last photo I took of us. It was taken yesterday before we left for the vet. There was one taken later, but I’m not ready to see that yet.

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19 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. kristaspurr / Nov 6 2013 7:15 PM

    Our pets are our lives for the time they give us, and it’s never enough. I got to spend time with Sebastian and she was a remarkable little friend. This is a wonderful tribute to her.

    • kristicolleen / Nov 6 2013 7:21 PM

      Thanks, Krista, and thanks for all you did for her.

  2. Mike Carmical / Nov 6 2013 7:59 PM

    Thank you for sharing your story,hard losing a friend.

  3. Ben / Nov 6 2013 9:40 PM

    This was beautiful. It’s amazing how tight a bond we can have with a pet, and that bond never really goes away.

  4. db / Nov 6 2013 10:47 PM

    This is the most moving and touching expression of the loss of a dearly beloved baby that I have ever read. It is the only writing that has ever come close to expressing how I felt when I lost my 19 yr old last year. Thank you and deep condolence.

  5. marioninnyc / Nov 7 2013 3:10 AM

    I’m so sorry for your lose. It sounds like you gave Sebastian a wonderful life.

  6. Janelle Rogers / Nov 7 2013 5:57 PM

    You said everything that I wanted to say to my cat. I had to put my sweet Oliver down yesterday after 10 wonderful years. He was very sick and I know it was the right thing ut my heart has been torn out. Not many people can understand that kind of a love for a pet but to us, they aren’t pets. They are our best friends, our confidants, our real soul mates. My daughter lost her best friend yesterday as did I. I am thankful that she was able to meet him and the first sounds she heard was his purrs while he laid on my stomach. Thank you for sharing this, your story helps me deal with my loss a little better as you put into words what I would have said to my sweet boy. I am so sorry for your loss and just know that one day we will see our sweet friends again.

    • kristicolleen / Nov 7 2013 10:24 PM

      Oh, Janelle, I’m so sorry for your loss! Thank you for your kind words. It’s amazing how many of us are truly touched by our small loved ones (“pet” seems like too small a word).

  7. Christine Care / Nov 8 2013 10:31 AM

    So sorry for your loss but as you said you and Sebastian had a wonderful life together and you were both blessed. As one who has had to do the same thing as you with several much loved pets over the years, one who lived to be older then Sebastian, including our own Sebastian, I know the memories will always keep him near and comfort you. I lost my dear Max a few weeks ago and it is not easy, but I would not be without the greatest companion I have ever had in my nearly 70 years on this planet and that is a Feline friend. RIP Sebastian.

  8. Jen D / Nov 8 2013 10:36 PM

    I’m sitting on my bed crying my eyes out after reading that. Bastian was such a special cat. This is a beautiful post and I am sure she knew every day how loved she was, and always will be.

  9. L.M. Murphy / Nov 14 2013 7:34 PM

    Beautifully written tribute, Kristi. Pet really isn’t a strong enough word. My dog’s been there for me when nobody else was, and though she hasn’t been in my life since birth, the sense of reward when she finally stopped hiding from me and learned to trust me was one of the strongest things I’ve ever felt. I see her face slowly turning white and I wish I could stop time before she’s gone.

    RIP, Sebastian. I’m sure you’ll still be keeping an eye out.

  10. Wilson / Nov 18 2013 12:16 PM

    Its taken me until now to read this as I knew it would bring about my own memories. A beautiful tribute to your best friend. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  11. Michelle / Nov 23 2013 8:43 AM

    This was absolutely b e a u t I f u l. How ironic I just read your article about your cat being named Sebastian, told you my cats name was Sebastian as well, and now I read this. I feel slightly guilty. Wow, just a nicely written article.

  12. Kristen / Dec 6 2013 10:37 PM

    This was a beautiful, beautiful tribute to your Sebastian. You’ve captured, I think, how a lot of us pet owners feel when we lose one of our babies.

  13. DLM / Dec 6 2013 11:09 PM

    That last photo – all I could think was, “He’s telling you it’s OK.” Maybe I’m reading too far into it and I apologize if I’m out of line in assigning my own meaning to your memory. It just made me realize how our pets can be so amazingly selfless even in their darkest hours.

    Much love to you and many kind thoughts to you.

  14. Jake / Jan 31 2014 2:08 AM

    This post was amazing. I have a cat who is the same. My condolences he sounded like an amazing friend.

  15. Anonymous / Jan 31 2014 10:54 PM

    This was beautiful and heartbreaking. We lost our dog in July and it was so hard. You had an amazing friend, thank you for sharing him.

  16. deidredeee / Jan 6 2015 12:01 PM

    This may seem random but I just came across a comment you made on a Buzzfeed article in regards Colonel Meow’s passing and noticed your cats name in the comment was hyperlinked, and that peaked my curiosity. Needless to say, after reading I am a complete sobbing mess and can’t swallow properly because the lump in my throat is choking me it is so large. I have never read such a beautiful tribute for a pet, and only wish I could have been so composed and well written as to pen such a lovely letter at that point in my life. In fact, I lost not one, but two pets recently (one was a 20ish year old cat, the other a goat) and am in the process of trying to find answers for another cat who is very sick. 20 years is a long time and during that time a pet becomes far more than just an animal. Much like you said a best friend, companion, someone who is always loyal, and by your side. I too lack trust because of past relationships with most people, so therefore my pets mean more to me than anything else in this world. As I write this I lay here in bed with my cat curled next to me and wonder how many days I have left with her, and if so how 11 years just isn’t enough. The pain from my other losses is still raw and I’m wondering if I can deal with another, especially when the cat currently curled up with me, much like your kitty, was born before my eyes. I’m thinking how she’s never been away from home in 11 years aside from vet visits and how during my deepest and darkest days she was the only light, and she continues to be. She is my baby, a pet who was “just mine” and therefore taught me much in the ways of responsibility. My older cat who passed however was as close to a sibling as a pet can be, I can say I know how to feels to lose a sister. My relationships with all my pets differ because they all mean something to me and for different reasons and they hurt for different reasons but one thing they do share is that heart wrenching ache of loss. In all, I just wanted to say how beautiful this tribute was and how very glad I am I came across it at this point in my life – it really struck a chord I won’t soon forget. You cat was well loved, and lovely! You have some wonderful photos of her, I also enjoyed “her” name, here I am assuming (and you know what they say about assuming, haha) she was a he. In all I wish you the best and hope for the same in my case. I hope you find another friend in your life, surely not to replace Sebastian but one who can make you feel safe and comfortable if for different reasons, I’m sure there are many cats out there waiting for a new home with you, when the time is right of course. Wish you well. Thank you.

  17. socialbridge / Nov 4 2016 4:21 AM

    Heartfelt sympathies. We may have never met but have walked similar paths.

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