Endings aren’t always easy, even when you see them coming.
Exactly a week after my wife and I said goodbye to our 14-year-old cat, who mercifully passed away at home, we had to bid farewell to three large oak trees that had graced our backyard.
Losing the cat was traumatic, though we had prepared ourselves for the experience. In the aftermath of her passing, it seemed eerily quiet around the house, especially whenever we first returned home.
That quiet was broken last Monday by the sound of chainsaws, as a crew from a local tree service began taking down the three oaks.
Losing the trees was difficult as well, though we knew they had to go. Last summer’s crippling drought and excessive heat finished off the trees, which already were declining when we bought the house three years ago.
The tallest oak was about 50 feet tall, and it lost several large limbs this spring when high winds swept through the yard. My wife was concerned that the entire tree could fall and take out our back fence. So she urged me to call a tree service to have it removed.
The workers were very thorough, taking down the dead trees, cutting up the wood, grinding the stumps and hauling off the debris over the course of two mornings.
When the job was complete, nothing remained of the trees except for small areas of sawdust where the stumps had been.
Suddenly, the backyard was barren, except for a single cedar in one corner and an unruly bush-like tree in the other corner.
We had to plant some new trees — but what kinds should we choose?
That afternoon, we visited a local nursery to inquire about trees and shrubs, in the hopes of deciding which ones to plant.
The nursery employee was very helpful, giving us information about which trees grew fastest, their water requirements and how much shade they would offer.
As we walked among the various plants, a friendly cat named Sam followed us around, encouraging us to pet him and occasionally sitting on our feet, purring the whole time. It was a bittersweet experience, having a cat be so affectionate with us, but reminding us that we no longer had our own beloved tabby.
Sam eventually wandered off to do his own thing, but not before my wife and I narrowed down our choices of trees to a burr oak and a big-tooth maple. We also decided on some nice shrubs for the yard.
The next day, we visited the vet clinic where our kitty had been treated. The people there are so nice and have been so supportive in the wake of our cat’s passing. The day Emma died, I went in to tell the clerk in the waiting area and to thank her for all their help. She was very understanding and sympathetic, and she pointed me toward a cage where two small kittens were playing.
Just seeing them made me smile. Even though it was too soon to think about adopting another cat, it made me realize that there are plenty of other cats just waiting to be loved and given a good home.
Since then, my wife and I have made friends with two other rescue cats at the clinic — a mostly black, one-eyed cat named Olivia and a tabby mix named Harley. They’re both extremely lovable.
Over the last few days, I’ve come to realize that endings, though difficult, also give us the chance to start fresh.
Our barren yard will not stay that way. We’ll plant healthy new trees to give it shade and color.
And our empty house won’t remain that way, either. Someday soon we’ll find another cat to share our lives with.
We’ll always have our special memories of the past. But new memories await. It’s just up to us to make them.