Confession No. 148 – When it rains, it pours. Goodbye old friend.

Chester is gone.

My feelings are no different than what so many people, myself included, have experienced. The grief and mourning of losing a four-legged family member.

Chester was our grey and black-striped short-haired cat. He came to us about six years ago as a wily personable kitten, born of a feral mother who’d been trapped. But he was anything but wild.23130455_1527367887348043_2084153265336491754_n

Chester’s golden eyes were full grown, though his body was just a fraction of what it would eventually become. The first cat as a family, he also happened to turn my wife into a cat lady. Yes, Chester was that special.

‘I’m allergic to cats,’ Catherine told me so many times when I tried to convince her that felines make fine family members.

She also made it clear that the only cats ever in her life were the indigenous whisker-bearers that patrolled the junkyard near her childhood home. But she made a concession so that our son could have his own pet.

During his first weeks with us, Chester endeared himself to everyone by crawling up their jeans-clad legs with his tiny sharp claws … and nestling near our heads after the lights were long darkened.

His call was always deeply pitched. And friendly. Chester looked at you sincerely and heeded your call. He loved to eat — rounding the corner any time someone ripped open a bag or popped a can. And he loved being loved.

He was a quirky cat, surrendered himself only to belly rubs upon the asphalt driveway. Any time such affection was attempted in air-conditioned surroundings, he attacked in the friendliest of ways. That was his thing.

23031603_1527368417347990_3326429115616348911_nWe never thought about life without him.

Chester was a fixture, even in the brief time he was part of us. He could always be counted on to dart through the door and disappear in the early morning hours … and to be relaxed by the same door when we arrived home in the late afternoon. He talked to us as we approached him, undoubtedly telling us that he was glad to see us. We were just as glad to see him.

Sadly, those days were numbered long before we could grasp the thought of not greeting him daily.

Chester, like so many neutered male cats, had issues with his kidneys. We were oblivious to his pain, because he was himself until his final days.

I am haunted that Chester’s final hours were spent trying to find impossible comfort on a bathroom floor while I was a thousand miles away on a beach.

‘Get him to a veterinarian,’ I urged my son — Chester’s dad — during the urgent telephone call between Houston and Isla Mujeres, a Mexican island. ‘It sounds like he’s dehydrated. They’ll give him fluids and he’ll be fine.’

I was never so wrong.

‘Dad, I know what has to be done,’ my son told me through tears.

‘I’m sorry, Chris,’ I responded, barely holding back my own emotion. ‘Go be with him. Tell him how much you love him. Stay with him. Make sure he’s not scared.’

And that was it. We arri23167981_1527368537347978_5771267404603215970_nved home a couple days later and it hit me that Chester wouldn’t be rubbing against my legs, sleeping at my feet on occasion, or waiting for belly rubs on the asphalt driveway.

He was among my favorite furry family members. Ever. Cool like nobody’s business, and a lover to boot. Goodbye, old friend. I’ll miss you. Forever.

Thanks to my friend Megan Hawkins for editing this piece.



  1. Oh, Adam. I’m so sorry! What a loss on top of the other losses. This has been a rough few months. I understand your grief over not being home but I’m glad that your son was able to hold and comfort Chester. One of my greatest fears is that my Boxer buddy will be home alone when his time finally comes. Sending you hugs!

  2. Christiane says:

    I am so, so sorry, my friend. Truly heartbroken.

  3. Adam, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Losing a furbaby is never easy, just take comfort in the fact you gave Chester a good home during his time on this earth.

  4. Our fur babies are never with us long enough. Shedding tears while appreciating my two fur babies. They give us so much and often it feels like we never gave them enough. I have no doubt though Adam that you did.

  5. Aww…….Adam. Bless your heart – you and your family have really been through the wringer these past few months. The loss of a loved one is so powerful and my hope for you is that your grief is tempered by knowing he’s getting belly rubs on asphalt in kitty heaven. Kelli

    • adamjholland says:

      True that, Kelli. I think I’m more concerned for my son. What a tough thing for a 22-year-old to have to tell the veterinarian to proceed. I wish I could have been there to comfort him.

  6. So sorry, Adam. I now know the grief of a loss of a pet because of Sally.

  7. ah – man! 🙁

  8. They are called fur babies for a reason. It is losing a family member. I am so sorry Adam

  9. Adam, so sorry for your loss. Chester sounds like he was a great cat! I love that he only liked belly rubs on the warm asphalt. I think pets not only provide love, entertainment, irritation, and grief — just like human family members — they also help us learn things about ourselves that we wouldn’t know otherwise. Rest in peace, Chester. You lived a good life with good people.

  10. Adam:
    I am so sorry that you both and Chris have lost Chester. I lost mine last year after having her for 18 years. Hers to was kidney failure, and it was the last two days that she was sick. Broke my heart.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

    Did you ever get my letter?


    • adamjholland says:

      Charlie – Thank you for stopping by. I’m sorry about your loss. Indeed, we did receive your letter, and there is one on its way to you this week. Thank you. 🙂

  11. Someone I respect once referred to pets as little furry heartbreaks. That couldn’t be more true, especially for one you feel a special connection with. Find solace in the tummy rubs you gave, not the ones you will miss.

Speak Your Mind