February 3, 2002

No matter how many times I have faced the death of a beloved animal companion, it always hurts to say good-bye. I created this page the day my kitten died. Lemon—that’s the name he gave me, and I am sticking with it—came into our lives and left again within a year.

Born in 2001 the day after my brother Peter’s birthday, he was an elegant and aware kitten, in tune with everything, but always a little uncertain of himself.

We gave him and his brother, Orange, away to a good family, because, with six cats already, we felt we couldn’t keep the boys.

He didn’t want to go, and was injured there (not by the family). The boys were returned to us, but Lemon's heart never recovered.

Farewell, sweet Lemon. All heart's ease to you.

A picture of Lemon standing in the grass, summer 2001

His strength is gone.

He lies, too weak to move, staring,

Side gently rising and falling

the only sign of life.

His spirit, strong and sad,

Asks me only

“Have I been a good boy?”

And the poignancy of all

That lies behind his thought

Ambushes my heart, and I am lost.

I rush to assure him

That his whole life was good

That it was I who failed him

Failed in faith

Failed in trust

Failed in love

And he falls silent.

I wait a while, and watch,

His breathing still steady,

And wonder how it is

That we in the world have so lost our faith

That a simple kitten, dying simply

(“I want to go home,” he said,

and showed me a vision

of him leaping in joy,

Effortless, free,

In some eternity beyond)

can bring so much sorrow

When instead perhaps we need to know

That for spirits, there is always tomorrow.