The screech of tires interrupted us. I exchanged a glance with my mom, my face going cold.
We hurried to the door to look out the window.
An orange cat writhed wildly on the road.
“No,” the word slipped from my mouth as I opened the door and ran numbly down the walkway, across the gravel and into the grass up to the road. “No no no no…”
Ferachur means “very dear one” in Gaelic. We found him as a kitten, drenched, scraped up, badly burned, meowing desperately under a bush beside the road. My sisters and I nursed him back to health. My older sister Emily and I unknowingly contracted ringworm from him. He was intelligent, wild, loveable. One of those pets that leaves their mark. Emily had done the most work, having watched and monitored and doctored our dear kitten most carefully.
But Emily wasn’t home that day.
I forgot to look closely for traffic coming as I rushed out to attend to his flailing body. Fortunately, no other vehicles appeared.
“Ferachur no…” I breathed. That was all I could say. “No no no…Ferachur…” I felt as if I pleaded with something that wouldn’t listen to me. The deed had been done. Fate had spoken. Whatever small amount of time we had would not be enough.
Ferachur should have known to stay away. He was a smart cat, and his rough encounter with the asphalt early in his life discouraged the expectation that something like this could ever happen.
Knots twisted my insides as I finally managed to move him off the road and carry him into the grass. Emily didn’t know. I would have to tell her. There had to be something I could do to stop it. Ferachur couldn’t die like this. There had to be something.
But I knew there wasn’t.
Blood oozed from Ferachur’s open mouth, his fiery eyes distant. He was bleeding internally. He was suffering, and as he lay dying, I knelt beside him, helpless, futile.
“Ferachur no…” I said again, a breathless whimper. I petted him gently, assuring him I was there. As the agony persisted, I could at least make sure he knew that he wasn’t alone. He was away from the road now. We had found him. We loved him. We were there for him.
But we couldn’t save him.
Minutes after the screech, Ferachur died. Quickly, quietly, his life slipped through my fingers. Finally, excruciatingly numb, I looked up at my mom who stood over us.
I don’t remember what I said then.
We told Emily. She took it hard. And as she and my mom reacted emotionally to Ferachur’s death, I didn’t. I couldn’t bring myself to cry.
I wanted to cry, to grieve for our kitten. Because I had watched the entire thing. And as much as I wanted the weight to leave my chest, the tears just wouldn’t come. Like that portion of my heart had turned to stone.
It was so sudden, so surreal that I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to think, what to feel.
I only understood that Ferachur, our very dear one, was gone.