A year ago today, I had to say good-bye to Amber after a very sudden, brief illness. I was devastated. Nothing ever prepares you for unexpected loss. In hindsight, I’m grateful that she got to spend her final few hours at home with me, and that she died peacefully in my arms. At the time, those things did not bring much comfort.
A year later, the pain of losing her has dulled a little, but I still miss my beautiful girl every day. She was in my life for ten years, and they were some of the best of my life so far.
My love for Amber grew slowly. Unlike all of my other cats, it was not love at first sight with her. I had lost my first cat, Feebee, to his battle with lymphoma in April of 2000. He had been with me for almost sixteen years. I didn’t think it was possible to hurt as much as I did after he died. I had had other (human) losses in my life before, but nothing was as painful as losing him. There were days when I wasn’t sure I’d make it through.
What saved me during those dark days was my work at the animal hospital, my office cat Virginia, and the daily contact with all the feline patients we saw every day. But coming home to an empty house night after night was becoming increasingly difficult.
A few weeks after Feebee died, Amber and her five kittens were brought to the animal hospital by a client who had found the little family in her barn. Despite being emaciated and scrawny-looking, Amber’s eventual beauty was evident even then. She was a dark tortoiseshell color, with an amber-colored heart-shaped spot on top of her head, which became the reason for her name. Her kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession.
However, nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat. She spent her days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat.
One weekend in July, I decided to take Amber home, “just for the weekend”. I thought it would be a good way to try and see what it would feel like to me to have a cat who wasn’t Feebee at my house. I also wanted to give her a break from the abandoned feral kitten we had placed with her after her own kittens had all found homes. The kitten was a rambunctious six-week old grey tabby, and Amber was becoming increasingly exasperated with his constant need for attention. As far as she was concerned, she had done her mommy duty with her own kittens.
After living in a cage for all these months, Amber was initially a little overwhelmed by having access to an entire house, and she spent most of that first weekend near or under my bed. By Sunday evening, she had relaxed a little and started exploring her new environment. I liked having her gentle and peaceful energy around the house, and I decided that she could stay a little longer.
The wound from Feebee’s passing was still raw. I wasn’t quite ready to acknowledge that she was home with me to stay, so I told everyone that I was “just fostering her”. I had flyers all ready to go to advertise that she was available for adoption. Remember flyers? This was in the dark days before social media!
Somehow the flyers never got distributed. Three months later, I finally realized that she wasn’t going anywhere.
My love for her grew over the years in ways that I never would have thought possible. She was my heart and soul. She reflected back to me the limitless possibilities my life could hold if I opened my heart and allowed things to unfold. She was my inspiration for so many things, including this site. She was the original Conscious Cat.
There are so many things I miss about her: the way she would curl up in my arms each night and sleep there for most of the night. The way she’d purr if you so much as looked at her. The way her tail would twitch when she got excited about something. I miss her gentle presence and peaceful energy.
Allegra came to live with us about five weeks before Amber died, and she was a great comfort to me during this past year. Her joyful, kittenish presence and her quiet love helped my heart heal. Now that Ruby has joined our family, my heart, and my life, are expanding once again.
And Amber’s gentle spirit and eternal love are never far from me.
My dear Luna the cat, a turtleshell too , pass away 6 moths ago after 21 years together, and as you said, nothing compares to the hurt of losing you little friend
Thank to you for sharing you lovely story of love and lost, for your beautiful Amber.
I’m sorry about Luna, Jorge. No matter how long they live, it’s just never long enough.
What a lovely tribute to Amber She was indeed a very special cat who was much loved.
I enjoyed the profiles of Allegra and Ruby on Tortie Week. They sound like a delightful pair, and I look forward to hearing about them on future posts.
Thank you, Barbara. Allegra, Ruby and I look forward to having you stop by in the future!
I feel and understand your loss. I’m so sorry for your loss I know how it hurts.
I had a small no tail cat for 11 years, until she slipped out one day and never returned. Yes I searched posted flyers in the vet offices and neighborhood as well as online but never heard anything. She was and is my heart and soul, and I live each day in hopes I’ll see her again. Her name was girl (why because she was just such a girl attitude) spoiled rotten, I think she was part human. Wanted nothing to do with anyone but me, traveled with me every where I went. Loss her Dec. 30, 2007, I have other cats now but they just don’t feel the void I still miss her very day.
Good Luck I hope all the best for you.
Thank you for your kind words, Cathy. I’m so very sorry about Girl – I can’t even imagine not knowing what might have happened. My heart goes out to you.
What a beautiful tribute to a gorgeous girl. You and she were both blessed. Thinking about you and Amber today.
Ingrid hugs for you today. Your love of your babies has gotten to be bigger and better because of this little angel. Good memories forever.
Thanks, Bernie. I have so many wonderful memories.
Ingrid, hugs to you on this special day. Dear Amber is not only forever in your heart but as feline teacher her rays of light spread far and wide.
Thanks, Layla. Her wisdom continues to inspire me.
What wonderful memories – how beautifully you remember her – My Ragdoll Phoebe who is
16-1/2 years old has similar attributes – purring immediately when I walk in or take a breath – sleeping close by me – following me around like a puppy –
a real gentle sweet presence & lots of energy….When its her time, I will be devastated but I will
remember your words & sweet Amber, and the lasting joy she brought to your life Ingrid…R.I.P. little Amber in the arms of the angels…I still miss my Calico Tortie Tawny (2-1/2) and Black cat Pookie (nearly 20yr).
“Your Amber’s now an Angel in heaven above
With Sandpaper kisses and a heart full of Love”
She has left her pawprints on your heart – with love xxx
Thanks, Myrna. I don’t think we ever stop missing them. I hope you have many more years with your Phoebe!
What a wonderful, touching post in loving memory of your wonderful Amber!!!
Only people who have gone through losing a beloved pet can fully understand the grief and devastating pain this sad event leaves in our hearts. I remember how comforting nature and my creativity were when I lost my beloved old “furry sisters”. It takes a long time to get over it, and in a way we never do. Thank you for putting to words the feelings many of us have felt.
It’s so good and heartwarming to know that Allegra and Ruby are now filling your heart with renewed joy.
And yes… Amber’s gentle spirit and eternal love are never far from you. These sweet gentle spirits are with us forever, free from pain and smiling.
Warm hugs to you, Ingrid, on this hard day.
… and it was really beautiful to read Amber’s story! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks, Anna. I’m glad you enjoyed reading Amber’s story. Even though I miss her, today is also about remembering her.
A truly beautiful memorial for Amber – you say so well what many of us have felt.
This post brought back lots of memories of my Sophia. She was estimated at 5 years when she came with me, and I only had her loving presence for 3 years. She has been gone just over a year, and I still tear up sometimes when I think of her. Thank you
I’m so sorry about your Sophia, Candace. It’s never long enough, but three years is such a short time!
It never gets any easier to lose a beloved cat friend. I still have moments when I miss my darling Sinéad–and it’s been almost five years.
Hugs and condolences to you.
Thanks, JaneA. I don’t think we ever stop missing them.
I remember one of your first Facebook posts and I think you knew then it was something serious. Unexpected losses take the longest to resolve. My heart is with you today.
I cannot believe it has been a whole year. I know this is a hard day for you with all those memories. Big hugs to you. Glad you have Ruby and Allegra. Ruby sounds like she is a wonderful cat. Take care Ingrid.
Thanks, Marg. It is hard to believe it’s been a year.