It's been a sad couple of days in the Wilson household. I came home Sunday night to find my beloved cat, "Earl," had passed away in my home's basement.
Found, roaming the sidewalk in 2002, Earl was one of two kittens who somehow found themselves alone in a busy Terre Haute neighborhood. He, and what I believe was a brother or sister, were coveted by my lady friend at the time. So, like any good -- gullible -- man, I granted permission for one of them to enter my life.
As a kitten, he was your typical crazy animal. Darting across the rooms, chasing yarn and light and all the cute stuff you see on those YouTube videos. Then came cat puberty, and, after unwanted marking of territory, he lost his manhood -- a procedure I apologized to him for up until his last days.
As my life evolved, so did his. I met my future wife; so did he. I got married; well, he stayed at home.
Then, we moved into a house of our own. Outside of the dreaded car ride, it didn't take him long to make himself at home.
Both of our biggest life changes came when my daughter was born. Debating whether to get him declawed or maybe put him outside, we chose the latter. Afraid he would run away or get hit by a car, five years he spent spring, summer and fall roaming the yard and yards of my neighbors. He loved every minute of it.
Sure, he got in a few fights and ate some bad apples, but it was nothing a trip to the vet couldn't solve.
Sadly, in recent months, the energy left him. He was brought back in the house and did little more than eating, sleeping and begging to eat.
His death was tough for me, my wife and my five-year-old daughter, who loved him and tried to comprehend as she fought back tears when I told her.
My daughter and Earl were buddies. Well, most of the time, if she wasn't pulling his tail or dumping grass on his head.
Alas, I knew he wouldn't live forever. None of us will. But it doesn't make it any easier.
It's just another reminder in this uncertain life that every beginning has an end. The sooner you can cope with that reality, the more living you can do in between.