One of my fondest early childhood memories is when we got our cats, Andy and Ben, in November of 2004.
I was four years old and my Mum had just seen a flyer from a UBC law student looking to rehome two adorable kittens.
Andy and Ben quickly became indispensable members of our family. When we brought the cats home it was love at first sight, this lasted all of five minutes before I enthusiastically picked up Ben and he bit me. Nevertheless, my little four-year-old heart was filled with love and remains so 17 years later. Growing up with Andy and Ben has expanded my understanding of love. The amount of joy they brought to my childhood was immeasurable. Aside from obvious indicators like purring and cuddling, one of the main ways Andy and Ben loved was through their patience.
As a four-year-old, I had a limited understanding of boundaries and considered the cats my best friends, favorite toys, and go-to sources of entertainment. For hours I followed them around with a camera, dressed them up and created elaborate obstacle courses for them to complete. As an only child, I found Andy and Ben’s presence enriching. I smothered them with love and was met with endless patience and purrs. Together, Andy and Ben taught me responsibility by feeding them, cleaning their litter boxes, and administering medications. Through Ben I quickly learned the importance of respecting his space via his sharp, black, and ninja-fast claws swiping their warnings. His feisty personality kept me on my toes! Ben was a fearless protector, both of Andy and our entire family. Comparatively, Andy was a fearful kitten rescued from under the roller coaster at the PNE. He spent much of his first weeks at our apartment hidden in our bathroom, but once settled shared his loyal and gentle nature every minute of every day.
Through Andy and Ben joining our family my understanding of love and loss deepened. As the three of us grew up, my parents silently hoped that the cats would last until I graduated high school. Andy and Ben exceeded their expectations. Just as gracefully as Ben taught me to love boldly and fiercely, he also showed me how love is everlasting when he passed away in 2019 during my second year of university. I am deeply grateful for all the laughter, love and longlasting memories Ben imparted on my life. Though he is no longer physically with us, memories of his spirited self continue to make me smile.
Everyday I am grateful for Andy’s continued love and affection. Though his tabby coloring is now speckled with white, he remains attentive, energetic, and attached to my hip. This year in particular we have been pandemic pals, surgery twins and spent more time than ever cuddled up together at home. I plan to bring him with me when I return to university this summer. As evident by soaring pet adoptions since the COVID19 pandemic began, pets positively bring more love and lightheartedness to difficult times.