The Rose
By Bette Midler

Sam Wood was a beautiful grey and white cat. He was the love of my life in the world of animals. He was my pride and joy. There was nothing that he could do that was wrong in my eyes. He would stride around the house as though he knew he was adored, spoiled, and the king of all cats. Let me tell you how Sam became a part of my world. This world was graced with his presence, his integrity and his cat charm.

Fourteen years ago, my daughter wanted a cat. I succumbed and gave her what she wanted. I found a local vet who I had called to see if they had any cats for adoption. They had one - Sam! I went to go see him first, and there he was, this timid little 6 month old kitten sitting in a cold steel cage. I went up to him to talk to him and he immediately shied away from me. It was obvious that he wasn’t the type of cat that you could cuddle or hold. But, something inside of me said he was the perfect one. We took him home and each day that went by I adored him more and more. I suppose he knew that in his heart. Throughout the 14 years that he was my boy, we developed this unique bond. I would wave my hand, telling him to come, without saying a word, and he would come. Many times, he would just sit and look at me as though he were saying, “Oh, you know I can do whatever I want. Your love for me is so strong and intense.” He was so right. I can’t tell you how that little boy grabbed onto my heart. I had so many nicknames for him. One of them was Tuxedo Boy only because when he would sit and give me look, he would look as though he had on a tuxedo. I would tell him that he was all dressed up with no place to go. He would come up to me and all I had to do was say, “kisses.” At that very moment, he would be rubbing my head. He had this habit of taking little nip bites but that was his way of saying how much he loved me. Sam never created this bond with anyone else in the house other than me. I would look at him, kiss his chubby face and the purring would begin. How I love him, no words of description can explain. I would watch him just lying on his throne (the couch) thinking how gorgeous he was and how lucky I was to have him. Words alone cannot describe the adoration that I feel for him.

His last days were ones of great sadness. I felt in my heart that something was wrong with him. He was sleeping with me, something which he would never do. His normal night routine was to lie on the couch and “guard” the downstairs. But when he started sleeping upstairs with me I knew something was wrong. He stopped eating and went from 11 lbs at one point to 6.6 lbs. He lost weight so incredibly fast. I noticed that his breathing had become labored and brought him to vet prior to making the decision to send him on his journey to the bridge and the vet found nothing wrong with him. The Sunday before his journey, I told my husband that he was dying and that I was bringing him to the vet the next morning.

I will never forget the next morning. As I was busy getting ready, he sat and looked at me through the opening of the banister and had I known that that was to be his last time home with me, I would have taken him and held him so tight. I loved holding him and cuddling with him. I remember talking to him and saying, “Sam, I am sorry but you have to go to the doctor. We have to find out what is wrong with you.” Dear Lord, I miss him so much.

I drove him to the vet and explained what was going on with him. His symptoms of being sick had come so quickly and so harshly. I remember crying telling the receptionist why I was there with him. I left him at the vet to be checked from head to toe. At first, they couldn’t find anything wrong with him-even his blood results were coming back good. Then, comes the deadly news. At 2:00 p.m. on October 1, 2007, I was called by the vet and told that a diagnosis was found. My Sam had lung cancer. No, it wasn’t possible. There had to be a mistake. My boy had nothing that serious; that couldn’t be. He was my Sam. There had to be a problem with the x-ray machine.

I left work to go see him and when I got to him, there he was once again in a cold steel cage. It was almost as if dejavue had set in. You see, I found him when he was in a vet’s office in a cold steel cage and I went to go say my goodbyes to him while he was in a cold steel cage.

The vet and the assistant took him out of the cage, unhooked all the machines that he was on and brought him into the “special room.” I held him as tight as I could and cried. The sorrow that poured out of my eyes and heart was an unbearable pain. You see, Sam was never supposed to leave. He was to be with me for eternity. Not in soul, but in body. How was I supposed to let this special little boy leave my world for the unknown? I was asked to make the decision. My husband wanted me to bring him home and let him go in peace in his own surroundings with his “brother” Mittens by his side. I could not bring myself to allow him to suffer any additional pain. I made the decision to let him back into God’s arms. God allowed me to have him for 14 years and now it was up to me to release him back to his creator.

I stayed with him throughout the entire time. I held his little head as he lay there and told him how sorry I was that I couldn’t help him and how much I loved him. We gave him the nickname of “Pony Baloney.” I just kept repeating, “Pony we love you so much and we will miss you.” It was over in minutes. But the pain, sorrow, and the guilt was not over for me. It still exists even 10 weeks later. Not once did I think that I would have a day without my Sam. I cry either secretly or silently for him each day. I look up at the sky and wonder where he is. I can only hope that my Dad, who died a month prior, scooped him up into his arms.

As I write this, I find myself sobbing over Sam. I cannot look at a picture or think of him without the tears beginning. I have a question that no one can answer-why my Sam? The only answer that I can think of is that God knew how special he was and it was time for Sam to join God and teach all the new kittens what it meant to be a special special boy. Lord knows, this little boy was my world.