2007 - May 4, 2009

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Garfield the Cat (Link to part 1)

Healing and Moving On (Link to part 2)"

I will refrain from sharing the feelings I am having for the person who drove their minivan up our street in a reckless manner tonight.

I will also admit to the difficulty I am having with refraining from acting out the disgust and RAGE I feel towards that person for also hitting, and killing Garfield our family cat tonight. The part that puts me over the edge is that it was done while #4 of 5 (our eight year old daughter - the cat lover) was watching out the window.

I will say prayers of thanks to God tonight, that this person also did not have the manners, etiquette, or good taste to even stop. Things would not have gone well for them tonight, and as a result, would not have gone well for me.

I will also admit the heartbreak I am feeling right now for the kids. Like I said, #4 of 5 actually saw the accident. We were all sitting in the living room, but she saw it through the window. I was "lucky" enough to get to see the raw reaction on her face.

As I turned to see what she was looking at, I saw Garfield struggling to make his way up into our yard. Like the true #$%^ that I can be at times, got upset because of the inevitable vet bill, and vocalized it as I raced my way out the door.

Garfield was still struggling when I reached him. Not really for long though... One breath, maybe two. #2 of 5 was right behind me. Being in uncharted waters, I told him he should probably go back inside (so as not to witness the cat struggling for his last breaths). In hindsight, I was thinking that maybe it would not have been a bad idea to have let him stay, and be with his cat as it died.

Moments after Garfield breathed his last, I turned around and #2 of 5 was standing 10 yards behind me... Asking if Garfield was ok. I told him that Garfield had died, and invited him to sit with me.

Garfield was "technically" #2 of 5's cat, but we never really kept track of "who's cat is who's". Garfield was our family cat, and was loved by our family, our next door neighbor's family, and the family across the street - who's house he was running from when he was hit. But at the end of the day, #2 of 5 had a very special relationship with Garfield, and was very in-tune with him.

#2 of 5 sat next to me on the front lawn. I held him in my arms. I held him tight as he broke down and wept. He asked if he could pet Garfield. I told him of course he could, and that Garfield would like that very much. It had only been seconds (maybe twenty) since Garfield had passed away.

#2 of 5 is 14 years old now. Mom was still in the house with the other children, and for a few minutes it was just him and I outside with Garfield. He was holding me tight, weeping.

Thinking about this now (about an hour later), I am thankful for those few minutes before everyone else came out of the house.

In all reality, this will likely be one of the last times this will happen. He is growing up so fast, and to have him need me, one more time, to help through this was something I think I needed as much as he did (for different reasons).

I removed his collar and name tag, hading them to #2 of 5. I told him that these were his to have, and that Garfield would want him to take care of them.

After a few minutes of holding my boy in my arms, as he pet the cat he loved so very much, the rest of the family came out. Next to break down was #4 of 5 (8 years old). She too is VERY attached to the cats, and as the one who witnessed the accident, was noticeably upset. She curled up in her mother's arms and wept.

We sat together as a family, on the front lawn, surrounding Garfield. It was a very emotional time.

As it started getting dark, I left to get a box to put Garfield in for the night. One by one, everyone left to help, except #2 of 5. He stayed with his cat.

Watching him sit there in the middle of the yard, alone, crying, and petting his cat was a painful thing to see, and will be with me for a LONG time to come.

After finding a box, and a little blanket to wrap him in, we all went back to #2 of 5 and his cat. I had him help me place Garfield gently in the box, and I sent the kids inside.

It was past the kids bed time, and they were all in various states of emotional turmoil. There was a lot of crying, and sadness in our house tonight.

We reminded the kids that if Garfield could talk to us right now, he would not want us to be sad. He would want us to think happy thoughts of him, remembering all the funny things he did, and would want us all to say a special prayer for him.

#4 of 5 mentioned (before going to bed) that "at least Mimi (Garfield's litter-mate and our other cat) can at least eat now. (Garfield was an eating machine...). At least that put a little bit of a smile on her face before bed.

As I sat with #2 of 5 in his room before bed, he said that this was the WORST day of his life. He has strep throat, missed school (and will have a ton of homework tomorrow) and now it was the day his cat died. What can you say?

Just before going to bed #2 of 5 said that at least he does not have to have a 5:30 am alarm clock anymore (Garfield would jump on our beds until he got one of us up. This almost always happened around 5:30 am). This statement put a little smile on his face, and so I told him the story of what his sister said about Mimi being able to eat. That also put a smile on his face.

I asked him to (over the next few days) write down several thoughts and memories he has of Garfield. Things he does not want to forget. I reminded him that our memories of those that have passed are what allow them to live on.

#2 of 5 had a hard time getting to sleep tonight. He could not sleep, and came out to sit with us for a while. He is just now heading off to bed (10:40 pm).

For those of you that have been around here long enough... you may remember a post titled "The Third Option". This post was also about Garfield.

The photos that make up this post are of one of the first photos we have of Garfield (when he came home for the first time) with #2 of 5, and one of the last photos I took of Garfield.

I am also going to update this post (or create another) with a photo #2 of 5 took of Garfield on my wife's cellular phone. (I still have to figure out a way to get it off the phone.)

While crying himself to sleep tonight, #2 of 5 told his mom that it was "odd". When we asked him what was "odd" - he said that for some reason - this afternoon - he changed the screen saver on her cellular phone to a photo he took of Garfield earlier this year. Between his tears, he asked if she would leave it as the screen saver for a while.

My wife was crying when she told me this story.

Garfield, you will be missed. Your two years with us went WAY to fast. You were by far, the most entertaining cat I have ever had the pleasure to know. Thank you for all the fun times, and the laughs you provided our family over the past couple of years.

You go with all the love of your human family.

Now that the kids are asleep, and my wife is too, it is my turn to go cry myself to sleep...


Well, two days after the fateful event that caused so much trauma for our family (please click link to read the heartbreaking story if you have not already herd it), we began the process of healing, and moving on.

After a morning of dispatching from our Command Post for a specific "Incident", I was unable to chaperone a field trip to the Minnesota Zoo with our youngest's preschool class that I had previously signed up for. The Incident Commanders were all very understanding, and did everything they could (and then some) to get me there - but in the end, it was cutting it too close.

This worked out ok in the end because I ended up making a run to urgent care for a persistent, and worsening cough. More on that "experience" later...

After the ER visit, and picking up subsequent prescriptions, I made my way home to accomplish the one task I had set my sights on for the day. We needed to lay Garfield to his eternal resting spot. At the family dinner table, we discussed the various options...

We came up with three viable options. The concave portion of our kidney shaped flower garden, a back corner of the yard, or under our deck where the ideas that we came up with.

We also talked about how we would mark the location...

In the end, we chose the concave portion of our kidney shaped flower garden. Additionally, we decided to "upgrade" this area, and create a small "memorial" to our beloved Garfield. We are going to put a concrete birdbath, and an etched stone memorial there too.

Planning this with the family was really nice. I really think this helped move us towards "closure".

After dinner, I started the work of cutting up the lawn (so I could put the patch back when I was done), and digging the hole. When the whole was complete, we called the kids, our next door neighbor kids, and I was going to invite the "across the street neighbor girl" (who played with Garfield every day) but, she was sick, and could not come over.

All of them had made cards, or picked flowers (dandelions), and came up with some things to send Garfield off with.

- I got a small baggie of Cat food for him (man, that cat could E. A. T. - It was only fitting to send him off with a little of what he liked best!).

- #2 of 5 decided to send him off with a laser pointer. (Garfield LOVED the laser pointer. We could get him to jump over 6 feet to try and "catch" it....)

- #4 of 5 use a piece to her gerbil cage (Garfield was so "interested" in the gerbils... He would stand guard, and sleep near their cage - just hoping for one of them to get loose.)

- Everyone else made cards (including the little girl across the street who could not be there).

We placed our things with Garfield, sealed up the box, and #2 of 5 lowered him into the little "grave".

More dandelions on top, and #2 of 5 asked to fill the hole back in.

Unfortunately #1 of 5 could not be with us, but he called us, and specifically asked that we say a prayer for him since he could not be there.

By the time we were finished, the kids were all doing MUCH better. The "immediacy" of the situation has passed, and as the old saying goes... "Time heals all wounds". Overall, everyone will be ok. #2 of 5 is even talking about wanting another cat. (But he does not ever want to name another cat Garfield - so he can always remember "his" Garfield the way he was...) No decisions have been made in this direction as of yet.

As promised this post includes the photo of Garfield on the Mother of Five's cel phone (the one that #2 of 5 does not want changed for a while...)

One last photo. This is the last photo we took of Garfield. It was dated 4-20-09. #4 of 5 was cleaning out her gerbil cage, and Garfield (who loved to squeeze his HUGE frame into the smallest possible boxes to curl up in) decided to do so in the gerbil's cage.

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