Tonight I read the heart-breaking news that Jack the Cat is no longer with us. His injuries and malnutrition were just too much, and despite every effort to save him, and the very best of intentions, his suffering was only being extended. How tragic to think that with so many prayers, so many people caring about him, a world full of love just wasn't enough to save one very sick little pussycat.
There are so many facets to this story that I hope someone with time and talent will write a book about Jack and his impact on our world. I'm hoping a lot of good eventually comes out of the tragedy and that this horrific incident will change the way that airlines transport pets. I hope that American Airlines will accept full responsibility for what has happened and allow all pets to ride safely in the cabin with their owners. Most of all, I hope that no one ever again has to suffer the way Karen Pascoe, Jack's owner, has suffered in the past couple of months as she worried about her cat.
I have little doubt that Jack received the best veterinary care in the world and I thank every one of those wonderful people at Blue Pearl who did their best to try to nurse him back to health. Having held onto my own very sick cats while they were being euthanized, I cannot imagine the pain everyone felt as Jack fell gently asleep...forever.
To those of you who haven't experienced this type of loss, I can only say you should be very thankful you've never had to make the gut-wrenching decision to end the suffering of a creature you have cared for and loved...and who depended upon you for everything. I lost both my cats in the past couple of years and my heart still aches when I think about them. For 14 years they shared my home, and each night for 14 years we all got into bed together with one cat on my left and another on my right snuggling against me for warmth, and purring until they fell asleep. Even now as I think about them I miss them so much that I begin to cry. I loved my cats. And I know that Karen loved Jack. My heart goes out to her tonight. I know the depths of her sadness, and it breaks my heart that anyone has to feel such pain.
Now, I know there will be those who say, "It's only a cat," or "Why is everyone so upset about an animal when people around the world are dying?" Obviously, you've never owned or cared for a pet. So instead of belittling those who do care about all of God's creatures, why don't you look at it this way: A human has just lost something very precious. That human is now suffering unbearable sadness.
It shouldn't matter whether that human -- Karen, in this case -- has lost an animal, a child, a limb, a cherished piece of jewelry or a home. That human has a broken heart and even if we don't care about the cat, we should care about the person who truly loved it. It's not what you love that makes something precious. It's simply the fact that you love it.
I write this with tears in my eyes because I think about the fear and injury the animal suffered. I think of the sleepless nights its owner has endured. I think about the thousands of people who were compelled to follow Jack's story on Facebook...and the millions more who learned about him through the news.
I think about all the prayers that he'd be found and when he was found, all the prayers that Jack would survive his ordeal. I think about how we had all wanted the happy ending. And, quite frankly, the ending sucks.
Tonight Karen will cry herself to sleep. So will Mary Beth, the woman who worked so hard to keep us up-to-date on Facebook, and who helped organize Friends of Jack. I'll cry myself to sleep, too. And so will thousands of others.
But as I lie there weeping I'm going to be very thankful that I was given a heart big enough to embrace lost pussycats, limping squirrels, injured bunnies and all the other creatures who happen to cross my path. I am going to be thankful that needy animals give humans everywhere the opportunity to care for more than ourselves. I am going to be grateful for the reminder that we are merely custodians of this Earth: the creatures we love are truly our planet's precious cargo.
Rest in peace, Jack. May my cats, Kim and Hannibal, greet you at heaven's gate.