Dear Mr. Rogers

At 3:22 PM on Friday, March 25, 2022, you took your last breath. You took your final breath on my chest in my chair, where we had shared so much time together. While the idea of losing you is incredibly painful, I know it had to be this way.

The day before your death, as I sat alone in the middle of the night petting your barely moving body, I really understood your significance in my life. While I had always known you were my little buddy. While I had always known you and I loved each other so much. While I have always known you were the perfect pet cat for me, it took the brutal realization that I had to let you go to help me truly understand the depth of my loss and appreciate the true value of what you will always mean to me.

All the previous posts where I have written about you discussed your love, neediness, and your desire for constant attention. In reading through them tonight, I know how dismissive of the significance of your actions were I had unintentionally been. While I thought I was given you the credit you deserve, it sadly took facing losing you for me to truly be able to comprehend how much you have meant to me.

Petting your coat I now know was getting oily because of the kidney failure you were experiencing, waiting for purrs that were so much more infrequent and quieter than usual. Hoping for movement that was rarely coming. Sometimes failing to hold back the tears I didn’t want you to have to see me cry. I knew in my heart that you are my animal soulmate.

I don’t say things like that lightly. To some it maybe sounds crazy. To me, the idea of an animal soulmate may have once sounded funny. But watching you struggle, fighting back some of the tears I could hardly control, and facing a life without you, I know there is no better description of the impact you have made and will always make in my life.

In thinking about your life, my life, and the life we shared, I realized in a way I had never realized before why it is we were meant to be soulmates. Each of us know what it’s like to be abused and neglected by those society pretends we can all trust. Each of us experienced being given up on because we had eye problems. Each of us knows that because so many gave up on us and because many others prejudices would never allow them to really know us, you and I both needed a bond that was intense, trusting, and loving. We both needed a safe place where we were never our respective eye conditions. We both needed a safe place where we could always be who we were at the time and it would be okay. We both needed to feel the pleasure of just being together, being what we were in the moment, and most of all we both needed that one entity who truly committed to us in away they didn’t commit to anyone else. In short, we both needed to be someone’s soulmate.

Every time I got rejected by a job you were there. Every time I got rejected through online dating, you were there. Every time I felt discriminated against, you were there. Every time I felt sad, you were there. Every time I really needed a smile, you were there. Every time I needed to hide from the world, you were there. Every time I needed almost anything, you were there.

I will never forget getting the call that I had finally gotten a job. Answering the phone, I was so nervous I could hardly breathe. I had been rejected so many times. I hadn’t yet come that close. Getting ready to answer, I petted you and hoped. As I answered, you lifted your head and began purring. Listening to you softly purr, I was able to take the call that changed my life.

When Ufi died, I was heartbroken. Even though it was a beautiful sunny day, you came inside. For several hours, you stayed with me. You purred for me. You stayed on top of me. You refused to leave me until I was able to leave my bed.

I would have never recovered the way I did without your constant love and affection.

I raise those stories here as examples of how at the times when I most needed you–you always came through. Your love was universal. Whatever emotion I was feeling, you had a way of helping me feel better.

You weren’t flashy. I don’t have lots of funny stories about things we did together. I don’t have stories about activities we did together. The truth is almost all the time we shared was either lying in bed or sitting in a chair. But one hallmark of true, pure love is the ability to be together through the times of life. Anyone can take a trip or tell a joke. You and I loved each other through our eye problems, your cancer scare, all of the struggles I have previously discussed here, the losses of the loved ones we lost during our time together, and even your death.

While trips and jokes are nice, and while we need laughs, entertainment, personal fulfillment, and much more, the kind of unconditional love and total commitment you and I share is what truly gives life meaning.

I have regularly said I don’t believe in unconditional love. I have regularly said love is something that must be earned. thinking about our years together has taught me that there is something to pure unconditional love.

I adopted you because I kept finding you outside, cold, and hungry. I got tired of hearing Mom talk about you waiting at their door and rarely being let inside. I was amazed by how, given your abuse and neglect, you kept searching for someone to love you the way you knew you should be loved.

For some reason, you decided I may be able to meet your standards. Even though I had no intension of having a cat. And even though I spent too much time paying deference to the reality that you were someone else’s cat, you kept sitting in my lap, rubbing against me, purring for me, and looking for me when I was outside.

Eventually, I couldn’t help but fall in love with you. Eventually, I too knew you and I were meant to be together.

The first night I took you out of a rain storm and let you on my bed changed my life for ever. Now that I’m forced to continue on without you constantly teaching and loving me, I’m starting to better understand.

Because I could relate to some of things that hurt you, and because I was looking for the same kind of acceptance you were even though you were being honest about it in a way I couldn’t then be, you taught me the true gift of unconditional love.

Yes love needs to be earned. Yes, we should have standards around who we love. But you have taught me that it is not a choice between unconditional love that leaves us open to abuse and exploitation and love that is hard to earn. From you, I learned that if you know yourself, you know your worth, and you trust your judgment, you can find the purest, most magical of unconditional loves.

From the moment we began spending time together, you knew it could happen with us. I was too bitter, cynical, and slow to open my heart the way you were doing. Sitting in the chair where you died on my chest, I can only hope you think I got there. I learned from you to appreciate what I want, believe I should have it, and most importantly I learned to trust my judgment.

Almost a year ago, I met Desiree. You were on my chest when sending her my number on my birthday felt right. You were in my lap when planning to go visit her didn’t feel strange. You were back on my chest as I waited to go to the airport with Mom and Barb so they could meet her.

While I didn’t know it at the time, I now know I was able to form the unconditionally loving supportive relationship I have with Desiree because I learned how to really unconditionally love from you.

The morning after your death, Desiree showed up here. At the last minute, she flew all night from Texas to comfort me as I try to adjust to life without you and to form routines that will not directly include you.

I’m ashamed to admit that before you, I may not have appreciated the true beauty and wonder that is the essence of what makes Desiree so special. Before you, I may not have fully appreciated the true value of random acts of kindness or the necessity of just being able to be with someone and feel loved no matter what was happening.

I love Desiree so much for going out of her way and being there for me in ways that I sometimes can’t believe, and while I appreciate with every ounce of my being her helping me cope with your loss, I can honestly say that without the love I shared with you and the lessons I have learned from you, it would still be too hard for me to have found what I always wanted to find.

To some I must sound crazy. But I know I wouldn’t have found the love I have craved since the days when I was five and I first realized I wasn’t loved, unless you had softened my heart and taught me the beauty and serenity of a love that is consistent, deep, and always there.

As I am forced to say goodbye, I need to thank you for helping me become more of the man I want to be and through that making it possible for me to find the love I have always wanted most.

My time with you was way too short. It could have never been long enough. But I’m a better man for having been loved by you and for having the privilege of loving you. For that, you will always be my animal soulmate.

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