This piece won a Certificate of Excellence from the Cat Writer’s Association in 2020.
I had moved to Germany from China and I had Zhangy, my cat from China. I wanted a companion for him so I went to the animal shelter to find one. It was there that I first saw her. She had one eye and when I questioned the shelter worker about her missing eye she told me that something had been wrong with it so it had been removed. I couldn’t bear the thought of her being overlooked because of her one eye so I decided that she was the cat I was going to take. She was about 6 months old.
Her name was Polly.
I brought Polly home in a carrier, and placed her on the floor in the kitchen. Zhangy came to sniff her, and she hissed at him. He seemed interested in her for a few minutes, then he retreated to the bedroom.
I let Polly out of her carrier and she started to explore her new home while Zhangy stayed away. After a while I decided I was going to fix the situation. At this point Polly was under the bed. I picked up Zhangy, shoved him under the bed, and said “You are going to be friends!” and I waited….and waited….with baited breath.
I can’t remember who came out from under the bed first. I can’t remember who went behind the curtain first, who went after who, and who began the game of hide and seek but I clearly remember playtime had begun!
Later on, I felt very left out, because Polly and Zhangy were playing together and no one was playing with me. Little Zhangy became Polly’s soulmate at that very moment.
10 July 2018
My Dearest Little Polly,
It has been two days now since we lost you. The tears have stopped flowing from our eyes, but our hearts still cry for you. We feel better, but we just won’t feel right until you are home with us again. Your ashes will be home on Thursday, and Daddy has made a place for you on the shelf right next to Zhangy so that you will be together again. Grandpa brought over two electric candles, one for your bed and one for your spot on the shelf. We are preparing for your homecoming. Until then, we have a big void, because you are not there.
I don’t know when I will be able to smile again from my face and heart. I had been smiling from my heart ever since I got my new job. That smile is gone, for now, but it’s ok. I will allow myself to grieve for you as long as it takes.
Sunday, your last day on earth, was bright warm and sunny. Every day since has been bright, warm and sunny; God’s light shining onto the world and giving us a glimpse of his paradise, the paradise which now you are a part of.
Zhangy’s death 8 years ago was hard, but your death was harder and I can’t figure out why other than you were the girl cat, near and dear to all our hearts. You were the “winky cat” as the neighbors who saw you in the window would call you. To Daddy, you were Polly Girl, and I am having “Polly Girl” inscribed on the nameplate for your urn.
When you come home on Thursday, your homecoming will also be a home going. We will rejoice your life, and mourn your death no more. This I promise you my little Polly. I will sing our special song, that I sang to you even after you went deaf; “Oh where oh where can my Polly be? Oh where oh where can she be? With her fur so soft and her face so cute. Oh where oh where can she be.”
I can close my eyes and picture you, coming to me from wherever you were, whenever you heard that song. You knew it was special, just for you.
Grandpa thought it best that Daddy, alone, go and pick you up. I think the time alone with you will be good for him. I loved you, but he loved you the most. It’s only right that he be the one to bring you home.
Daddy says no one cares, but I know this isn’t true. While some people may brush it off, because they have never felt the love of an animal, others grieve with us. I write, and I memorialize you in words because I care, and Daddy and I caring are all that matters.
You were not just a cat. You were a member of our family and our baby for 18.5 years. In my book I have a whole chapter dedicated to Zhangy. Should I publish another book, there will be a chapter for you, because your 18.5 years of life had meaning. Your story deserves to be heard.
Polly Mahal Sylvester
2000 – 2018
To Our Sweet Little Girl Polly,
Sunday we said goodbye to you, goodbye to your life in the physical world.
It broke our hearts to see you go, because you made our hearts complete.
We knew your time in this world was over, and we did the honorable act of sending you to heaven to be with your beloved Zhangy.
Now your ashes are home with us. However, your ashes are only a remembrance of the physical. In fact, your spirit never left us.
One of the last things I told you was that you will be seeing Zhangy. When you crossed over, oh how happy you must have been to see him, and how ecstatic he was to see you, his beloved little soulmate.
Though we loved you very, very much, Zhangy and God loved you even more and it was Zhangy who asked God to call you home to be with him.
I have 18.5 years of memories with you and Daddy has 8 years. You were such a joy to have in our lives…..the kitty with the small head big heart. You loved being a “comfort kitty” always next to us when we needed you. Your meow echoing through the house will be sorely missed. Now all we have are beautiful and wonderful memories of you, our beautiful little girl.
We will miss your sweet little meow. I will miss how you loved to bite on my bracelets and daddy will miss how you liked playing with his cross necklace. All the little things which made you, you, will not be forgotten.
From this day on we will shed no more tears. We will celebrate your life and your ascension into paradise and reunion with Zhangy. We will hold dear and cherish all of the memories for all our days until the day comes when we will see you again.
Rest well little one. Your job here is over and you did it well. Thank you for all the joy you brought us. It was a privilege to have had you in our lives.
Now you live in our hearts, and we will forever love you………..
When we left the vet’s office, after saying our final goodbye, we got in the car and turned on the radio. A song by Madonna was playing. I cannot recall which song it was. To this day, when I hear a Madonna song, I think of our Polly.
They all are Polly’s song.