FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: On Cats And Sunsets

Sixteen days ago, my youngest cat Buffy died during a routine vet visit. It was sudden, it was my worst nightmare come true, and I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same again. Buffy was t`he first live birth I saw. I bottle-fed her for the first week of her life. She was also the first death I’ve ever experienced. Most days I feel like there’s a hole in my chest that will never close, or like I’ll never be happy again. I’ve cried every day for the past sixteen days. Every. Single. Day. Everything is different and sad and hard.

But the truth is that even though everything is different, it’s still okay; I’m still okay. I still have two perfect, perfect cats who, by their 6 AM screaming until I let them under the covers, love me as much as I love them. I made macaroni and cheese for lunch the other day because I could. And lately, I’ve been reminded of the miracle of sunsets. There is absolutely nothing bad about a sunset. The way the clouds change shape, the way the sun makes your skin look perfect…for around an hour every evening, the sky says, “Hey girl, I know you’re sad, let me give you something beautiful.” It’s nice.

I think what I’m learning from the sunsets is that they’re different every day, but they’re still beautiful. No one can tell me they’ve seen an ugly sunset; I won’t believe it. And I’m trying to take that knowledge into my body and into my heart and believe that consistency cannot be the only route towards happiness. Yes, every day is different than how I imagined it would be sixteen days ago when I woke up and brought Buffy to get her teeth cleaned, but it hasn’t all been bad, and it won’t all always be bad. Yes, I am filled with grief in a way that I never knew possible, but everything will be okay. I’m trying to appreciate that experiencing something familiar in a different way doesn’t have to feel like loss.

So here’s what I want to know from you: What beauty in the world are you holding onto to remind yourself that everything is okay? What’s your sunset? Is it a sunset? Will you please take a picture of it for me???? How are you keeping yourself focused on the stuff that makes you feel good and safe as we’re coming into the weekend? I love you so much and can’t wait to hear everything. Also here are my favorite sunset pictures from my phone!!! For ~*inspiration*~

Also, also, because she was perfect and you deserve to meet her if you haven’t already, here’s Buffy Berlioz Monts. She was better than you and me and every human in the world. She was 5 lbs. She was born on Mothers’ Day. She was four-and-a-half. She loved mint toothpaste, mouth kisses, black women, and watching the sunset from her cat tree.


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Alaina is a 20-something working on a PhD in Performance as Public Practice. They are a mom to three cats, they listen to a lot of NPR and musicals, and they spend a lot of time on Pinterest lusting over studio apartments. They are actively trying to build A Brand on twitter @alainamonts. One day, they will be First Lady of the United States.

Al(aina) has written 225 articles for us.

48 Comments

  1. Oh ouch 💔 they leave such holes, it’s hard to understand how they do it. I’m very sorry. I turned 30 last month and realised I haven’t had a pet since I lived with my parents, it’s strange considering how many we had growing up! But I have a tiny flat in London where I imagine a cat could be very unhappy, unfortunately.

    I don’t know how I’m keeping up, it’s 5:30 and I’m already in my sweats and I’ve opened some twist top wine and I’m going to order a pizza because I’m fulling embracing 30-year-old-ladyness. Can’t tell if that’s my sunset? Oh god.

    On a totally unrelated note, I need to know if anyone has watched Les Goûts et les Couleurs (Tastes and Colours), it’s just come to British Netflix but for some reason they translated it as ‘To Each, Her Own’ (but you can watch in French with subtitles). I have no idea what the takeaways are supposed to be. The header image made me hopeful that I’d finally see a positive bisexual poly story line and actually it’s just… more of that same old *SPOILER* lying and cheating and confusing people 🤷🏻‍♀️ And I have no one to talk to about it!

  2. I’m so sorry about your baby!
    My cat is nearing the last part of her life, and she’s my whole world. I brought her home against my parents’ wishes when I was a stubborn 11 year old, and now I’m turning 27. She’s been with me through everything, and I don’t honestly remember what it was like to not have a cat in the house.
    She’s sleepy all the time, soft as a worn out stuffed animal, and VERY adamant about when she thinks a human needs to go to bed so she can snuggle them.

  3. On May 1st of last year, on a beautiful day, I watched helplessly as my beloved high energy cat Jammer got run over by a speeding car a week before his third birthday. It was truly devastating. He was my buddy, my problem child, my inspiration. He demanded so much more attention than the other cats, and the hole he left was unfathomable.

    I’m not sure what happened last summer. I was in a daze until mid-August.

    I still cried every day through the fall.

    In the winter, I’m starting to recover. I still miss him, sometimes fiercely, but it doesn’t last as long. I’ve forgotten to expect him in all the places he’s supposed to be. The tears are less common (though I’m crying now.) I can look back on memories with a mixture of grief and joy.

    I think in the spring, I’ll be okay again. There’ll always be a part of me that’s with him, and I’ll never be the same, but that’s how it’s supposed to work.

    People sometimes downplay how much we can love our pets, and how similar it is to the loss of a human loved one. Especially when young and unexpected. It takes time. It takes a lot of time.

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss. Pets are family. They’re life. They’re everything.

    I was thinking on my walk to work this morning that I live for that first day of spring weather after a long, cold, snowy winter. The first day I can walk outside without my puffy winter coat. My favorite season is fall, but I think I actually like that first day of spring weather better than the first day of fall weather. I live in NYC, and spring & fall are now about 2 weeks long, sandwiched in between sweltering summer and frigid winter, so I try to take advantage of the brief but beautiful mild seasons. While I complain about the heat in summer, I love taking advantage of the outdoor concerts and plays in Central Park, long days/late sunsets, picnics, etc.

    I’m trying to find the beauty in everything. Each season, each day. I’m currently finding the beauty within myself. I’m taking myself shopping today after work because I need new clothes to showcase my beautiful body. In the immortal words of Celie from “The Color Purple” (the musical version), I’M BEAUTIFUL, AND I’M HERE.

  5. Wow this really pulls on my heart strings!!! Especially because the thing for me is also sunsets! I don’t talk about it much because it sounds dramatic or over the top maybe, but looking at the sky every day and watching the sun set are very genuinely one of my very favorite parts of being alive. No matter what I’m going through, I always always know that there is this incredible thing above all of our heads that is just beautiful and good all the time. It makes me feel grounded.

  6. I’m really sorry to hear about your cat! I love my cats dearly and I know that some day I’ll have to say goodbye, and I can’t even imagine what that will be like.

    My favorite thing to do when I’m sad is to sit out by the (Hudson) River. There’s something about being out in the freezing cold that makes me feel alive. It’s also great that in the winter the parks are basically empty so you know, if I need to cry, there isn’t really anyone around.

    I love sunsets and sunrises (although they require waking up early…). Your pictures are gorgeous and Buffy is super sweet.

  7. Oh gosh, I’m so sorry about your cat. It’s so hard to lose a friend. Sending you love.

    My family is also having a hard time with pets lately. My sister had to say goodbye to her dog about two weeks ago, and my little pup is living out his last days too. He’s got an aggressive cancer that’s moving faster than anticipated. This will be three of our four dogs lost within one year. The heartache is overwhelming.

    I’ve been using the Headspace app and they talk about how you should remember that above all the clouds in the sky, the sun is still shining. You might not see it, but it’s there. And they’re talking about distracted thoughts and creating a calm, clear mind, but I’ve repurposed it. I have been comforted by knowing that even on the worst days, the sun is still there, warm and bright, and I’ll see it again.

  8. I’m so sorry for your loss, Buffy sounds like she was an amazing cat <3
    I turn to flowers growing to remind me that things might be okay. It's getting closer to spring, so seeing different plants getting ready reminds me its okay to rest and gather what I need. Old flower pictures I've taken remind me that its okay to release and be open. I also have a collage of flower pictures on my wall as a constant reminder of their beauty and my possibility. It's also turned into partly a space for pictures and art of my cat Zaboo, who would have been 20 years old this April. It's been about a year and a half and I'm still grieving and immensely thankful for the love we shared. Recently one of my favorite musicians Adia Victoria said her song Mortimer's Blues was about losing her cat and I've been listening to it a lot whenever I miss Zaboo.

  9. Oh, the biggest of hugs to you. (consensual of course) <3 I'm sorry for your loss. Buffy was a beautiful cat.

    One day, I came home from work to find that my cat had passed sometime during the morning. I found him on the floor in my bedroom. To this day, I am not sure what happened. As I rushed to the vet, I was crying too hard to properly talk. The vet later called me and said that his heart probably gave way. He was a very big tom cat. Apparently, big cats tend to have heart issues. I had no idea.

    Unfortunately, my apartment was broken into the year before and everything was stolen. My computer/digital camera. This was before the cloud and during crappy flip phone cameras. The majority of his photos went with the theft. I wish I had taken more, saved them elsewhere. Sigh.

    He was my first cat. Took him in at 5 weeks old. Still had blue eyes. He was my first roommate. My lil' dude. It's been 7 years and it still hurts. But I take comfort in that he was loved and gave me so much by just being there. I still say his name to my other cats so they don't forget, haha.

    I'm moving this year and I hope he follows us to our forever home.

    I now make it the habit to say "good bye" to each and every one of my cats if I have to go somewhere. My girlfriend gets a little annoyed when we're in hurry but she understands. <3

    I live near the beach and just going down there, breathing the ocean air, feeling the breeze sometimes brings me peace and clarity when I'm feeling blue.

  10. Oh my God, as soon as I read this, it felt like the air was sucked out of my chest. I’ve been stressing myself out watching crash test videos of animals in shitty harnesses and carriers trying to find one that will actually keep our babies safe, as they’re in the car a lot. We’re bringing home dog #2 tomorrow, and I’m actually so nervous for no reason.

  11. on behalf of the three cats that live in my home, our hearts go out to you!

    recently, i saw a sunset that took my breathe away. i didn’t have a chance to take a pic. i work in the suburbs just outside the city and at a certain angle, you can see the whole skyline laid out before you. One day after work, i turned and the sun was behind me, reflected onto the western face of the buildings, bathing everything in shades of pinks and corals. absolutely stunning and restorative.

  12. Full time work plus grad school means when the sun sets I’m either 1) inside or 2) sleeping (usually not this option), so these days my tiny beautiful moments come from:
    – Hot showers with delicious smelling soap
    – Friends that make me laugh and smile and pick my head up
    – Blue skies
    – Tiny breathes from my cat as he snores on top of my chest
    – Milky tea with lots of honey
    – Feeling my legs work when I can get them to a pool
    – Train rides
    – Singing along to the radio in the parking lot of work before my shift
    – Dresses that make me feel cute
    – Puppy kisses
    – Sending snail mail
    – FaceTiming with my sister, nephew, and niece
    – The way little kids put all their trust in you simply because you smiled at them
    – Picture books about space
    – Really good tacos
    – Queer eye contact on the street

    Happy Friday, ya’ll, and thank you for this 🙂

      • The Darkest Dark, Mousetronaut, Margaret and the Moon, A Moon of my Own, Look Up with Me: Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Life Among the Stars, Mae Among the Stars, Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race, I Took the Moon for a Walk, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, Nonni’s Moon, The Girl Who Drank the Moon

        Some of these aren’t directly about space BUT they’re still wonderful and have space themes (like the moon!)

  13. I’m so sorry Alaina. A year and a half ago I lost my cat of 19 years, and everyone here was so kind to me. Losing a pet is a particular kind of grief, and I’m here if you ever need to talk. Buffy was a beautiful cat; its clear you both gave each other so much joy.

  14. Losing a pet is so hard. Both of our cats died within a year of each other and I’m just getting over it. Buffy looks like she was a great companion.

    I have different comforts for different pains. Sometimes I need to be reminded that the world is bigger than me and then walking outside and looking at the sky and the sunset helps a lot. I live 2 blocks from Lake Michigan and I love visiting the lake in all of her moods.

    And sometimes I just need to curl up and forget the world for awhile. I learned I didn’t get called back for a 2nd interview for a job I thought was a good fit on Weds and I decided to take the night completely off. My partner was out so I downloaded a queer romance, made some green tea and curled up on my futon and just really enjoyed reading my trashy book.

    (I read Off Limits by Vanessa North – ff romance between a rich curvy femme and a toppy, struggling to make ends meet, punk rocker – very satisfying if you like that sort of thing, and I do 😉

  15. This is really really lovely although I am so so sorry about your cat. You are a wonderful cat owner and Buffy had the best life a cat could have — you were both so lucky to have each other.

    Sunsets and sunrises are one of my most important things!! I see the sunrise and the golden clouds every morning and see the mountains all different colors and it makes going to work so much better. I work in a school and yesterday in after school I took my fave kindergartener out to see the pink sunset with me and it was so nice. Other things that give me that feeling are hikes/nature, calling my friends and family on different coasts, doing yoga (usually at home w yoga with adriene), and turning off my phone and reading tamora pierce at night. Also today I used therapy skills/breath/mindfulness to help two kids calm down and it really worked and I felt great about that!! I’m hoping they’re learning that it’s okay to feel big feelings but also how to calm themselves down.

  16. today was my last day at the nursery school where i work before i leave for a farming internship in rural Tennessee & it hasn’t fully sunk in yet that i’m leaving all my Work Babies behind.

    I sent my parrot to a bird sanctuary in late January and tomorrow I visit him for the first time. He lives with fifty or so bird friends in a 3,600 square foot outdoor aviary now. I miss him so much that i feels like an asteroid hit me directly in the chest. It feels like I don’t have lungs anymore. I know his life is so much bigger now, but I miss him so much. I miss him SO much.

    And on Sunday I’m going to Ikea with my friend so that her boyfriend doesn’t have to go with her because I LOVE PRETENDING TO LIVE IN IKEA and they always fight there.

    i’m so sorry about your cat. after my dog died suddenly, my parrot kept calling for her, and it was awful.

    much love

  17. The beauty of food,spices, the human body, lotta random small whimsical things,music, and clothes.
    Corduroy, crushed velvet, soft sweaters, worn soft old clothes.

    Don’t got any pictures rn cause I’m down with incredible nausea which makes me feel vulnerable and makes looking at food pictures an unpleasant experience.

    Clothing textures are most pleasant right now. Old night shirt is very soft.
    This ginger candy reminds me of what a settled stomach feels like, it’s like biblical rainbow.
    Partition by Beyoncé contains a quote from The Big Lebowski, Maude’s sex speech in French.
    I find this beautifully whimsical.

    Bait from The Dragon Prince and his signal phrase.

    Pretty food thing I made but have no good pictures of is chicken tagine made on stove with pot. Recipe had me peel strips of zest with a veggie peeler and so someday I shall use my dehydrator to make all kind of dried citrus peel.

    Every time I open a citrus fruit I get a spark of happiness. It’s like magic.

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