Losing My Best Friend

I was driving today, tears streaming down my face as I felt some calm of watching the road spinning past, spinning along, spinning forward, and I thought, “People lose someone they love every day. People are strong to go on. How do they do it? How does life keep moving?” And feeling guilty because I feel this overwhelming grief because it is my beloved cat that has passed away–not my child or my husband or my family. Feeling guilty for feeling so much love and so much loss. And then I thought this strangely belligerent thought that came from nowhere: “Well if your grandfather can be in Heaven, by God, my cat is too.” I don’t know where it came from, or why I prayed last night for the first time in ages. I’m not religious. But I prayed for Java. I prayed for my cat and said, “God, please, please let him live. Let him live with me another 5 years. Let him not die now. Let him not be in pain. I would never pray for myself. I would never deserve your prayers. But he does.”

So when I thought this random statement in the car, it felt strange. I don’t even know who it was addressed to–to some person who didn’t think cats went to Heaven? To someone more religious than me who would know about these things?

I then thought, “Why are you even thinking that? You don’t believe in Heaven.” And then, to stop the strange argument in my mind, I turned on the radio. Just as John Lennon sang, “Imagine there’s no Heaven, it’s easy if you try. No Hell below us. Above us only sky.”

It’s one of my favorite songs. And I thought about it as I wept, harder and harder–thought about what I really believe, and why I love that song, and why the concept of religion and heaven and hell are so wound up in conflicting feelings of resentment and disbelief and anger. If the idea of “Heaven” didn’t exist, people wouldn’t bomb subways and buildings and kill in the name of God. There would be no difference between Allah and God and Buddha and Jehova and Zeus. People die every day for religion. People kill others every day because somewhere, someone wrote that in doing this, they would become a martyr and be lifted to Heaven.

Maybe animals are the only ones who really have Heaven, then. They don’t kill in the name of some abstract concept or self righteousness.

Or maybe, I just haven’t made amends with a world that seems to be mad. Or with any God who lets children die in his or her name.

I do believe in Heaven, though. I believe it’s where all of our souls spill into another, and we are like Lennon’s song–all one world, and living in a world of peace. Java’s soul has spilled into mine over these 15 years on earth. And he’ll be there forever.



  1. wow, my throat is choked up and my eyes watery. very poignant. i want to go home and hug my lilttle Otis so bad. i’m so sorry for your loss, Chrissi. It probably sounds silly to most people, but I’d bet you’d understand…
    working this job shows me all the negative that people have in them, the untrustworthiness, it really jades me. my animals mean more to me than most people do. they love you unconditionally, and sometimes the worst my Otis will do is pee on my bed to remind me…Hey You! Big Man! You forgot to change my litterbox!
    i hope you find some comfort. No one can ever replace your lil Java. But, someone out there is another little furry dude that is just waiting to love you unconditionally, make you laugh out loud a little, and make you earn the affection!

    • thanks, jon. it means a lot to me. java was truly my best friend, and the longest and closest relationship i’ve ever had. he’s seen me through marriage, divorce, depression, 5 different cities, and watched me grow up from 17 to 32. i know there are a lot of people who feel like i do–that love their pets more than most people. i’ll never forget him. thank you for being such a friend and a funny lolcat sharer–even if we hardly knew each other in the same hometown. you’re a great friend.

  2. Christina–two years ago today, my Daddy was taken suddenly. In his sleep. No warning, jjust there on April 3 and NOT there on April 4.

    Daddy always believed animals went to Heaven. And I know he had his faithful childhood bulldog, Sarge, and our beloved cat, O’Malley waiting for him when he got there.

    I’d like to think Java’s rolling over so that he can get belly rubs…it makes me a little happier to think that, today, anyway….

    love you hon. Miss you too. If you’re ever in Louisiana again, let me know 🙂


  3. I have watched my 3 babies(kittys) all day today and hugged them and told them over and over how much I love them…. I can only imagine your pain losing java. I can’t imagine my world without my iggy or my Hyde or my mama cat pooch. It seems only fair that they should be with us forever…

    I agree that if there is a heaven, animals deserve a place there before us. Your java had your love for 15 years, he knew love. That’s something to feel good about. I see so many neglected animals every day and it’s a shame that there are not more people who have the immense capacity for love that you showed to your best friend.

  4. People who have been blessed to love and have been loved by animals are part of a club – we can truly relate to one another because we are privy to the secret handshake – the overwhelming amount of affection they brought into our lives. I feel for you deeply. I have had a horde of animals through my life so of course have gone through the pain of losing some of them and I know how it turns you inside out… I just recently finished re-reading Marley and me and I cried myself silly through the last few chapters where the dog was sick and then dying.
    I actually live with some low-level fear about my oldest dog because he’s getting up there in years and I dread the day he’ll pass because I know it’ll throw me for a loop. I truly respect your grace and humbleness through this pain of loss…

    • Thanks, Monique. I agree, and am happy to share that secret handshake. As miserable as grief is, and I’ve never known it really until now, except when I was a child at the death of my other best friend–a dog, I feel a sense of peace knowing that he is no longer in pain or feeling badly. The dread of Java’s death has haunted me for years–or the fear of it as he’s gotten older. Now, I feel as though I’ve faced the worst thing I could have imagined in my life (except my grandmother’s) and I am still here, still breathing, despite the loss in my heart. I’m only sad for me, and I realize that. For Java, I am happy he lived a long life and is in peace.

  5. “There would be no difference between Allah and God and Buddha and Jehova and Zeus.”

    I really don’t know that there is much difference among Allah, God, Buddha, Jehovah, and Zeus. God, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Even mythology-wise, Zeus was god of all gods. I think people get so hung up on the godness of God that they forget what he really is … a father.

    After growing so disappointed in my own dad, it was a hard concept for me to swallow. Then, one day I realized that my best friend always asked her dad for stuff. Not her mom. Her dad. Her dad always gave in. He gave her what she wanted. He gave her what she needed. He gave her an explanation of why she couldn’t have something if it was something she could not have. Because that’s what daddies do. Not daddies like Al Bundy or Homer Simpson. More like the dads on Brady Bunch and The Cosby Show or even Dan on Roseanne. So, when I realized God was someone I could go to, a father who is nonjudgmental and caring and worthy of respect, someone like my friend’s dad, it suddenly made sense to me.

    Too many people live their lives trying to get into Heaven or at least stay out of Hell. Like you said, people kill in the name of god all the time so how does that make sense? Maybe instead of trying to get into Heaven, we should all relax and just enjoy some time with our Father, doing stuff that fathers and daughters or sons do — flying a kite, sitting at a lake, playing with a pet, or talking and driving in the car.

    Allah or God or Buddha or Jehovah or Zeus –whichever name you pick — knows how much Java meant to you. And while He is taking care of Java now, I believe He wants to comfort you, too.

    • that’s the most beautiful explanation i’ve ever heard. thank you. so very very much. xo

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