Goodbye, Olivia

OliviaDear Olivia,

I was never ready for you. You came as a surprise. Before you, there was Oliver, the black-and-white Persian that my roommate’s parents didn’t approve of. Then it was Zooey, another cat who came along almost spontaneously.

I’m still unclear whose idea it was to get Zooey – a skittish little thing with a permanently startled expression – when we could barely look after ourselves. You were our family before we were ready for the real thing.

We were just a trio of giddy girls, making our way through our college years.

I’m afraid we weren’t always the best parents. I think I may have tried to give Oliver vodka once. I’m rather ashamed of this now, but I was barely 20 and slightly irresponsible. Needless to say, Oliver lived through the harrowing experience. For your sake, it was a good thing too.

We joked that our cats, Zooey and Oliver, weren’t attracted to each other. How wrong we were. Zooey ended up pregnant. Oliver, looking a tad smug with his haughty Persian face, was the father.

And then you came, part of a small litter of brothers and sisters. We divvied up the kittens between friends. I got you.

I was busy at the time, travelling here and there. I went to Europe and abandoned you to my own parents. I think there might have been a traumatic trip from Los Angeles to San Diego in the car. Apparently, this changed your personality for the worse.

You reminded me a bit of your mother. You didn’t enjoy company that much, preferring to haunt the rooms upstairs while the mess of life took place below you.

But you were striking – you inherited your father’s long fur and your mother’s beautiful stripes. You looked regal, sleek and elegant.

I saw you during trips home, which got further and further apart. You most often sulked under my parents’ bed. Occasionally you would come out from hiding and seek me out. Sometimes you might even let me stroke your fur. There were nights when you would meow loudly from upstairs, telling us that it was time to go to bed.

We lost you this week to the great leveller, death. It’s another connection with my days at university gone. You’re nothing but a memory now, along with the other hazy memories of those days.

I remember photographs mostly, snapshots of us looking incredibly young. Time has blurred most everything else. I’m left with an impression of time accumulated and life lived.

Another chapter closed. I feel like with your death I’ve lost part of my youth.

Goodbye, Olivia.


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