What Oliver Taught Me

Oliver considered everyone his friend–even the dog.

I recently took part in saying a final goodbye to one of my former fosters. Oliver was eight years old and had an aggressive tumor on his spinal column. He lived with my friend.
Oliver was originally named John, after John Fahey. My husband and I take turns coming up with themes to name our foster litters. My husband chose guitar players for this group of six. They were all dark brown tabbies. Three of them were able to go up for adoption as soon as they reached the appropriate age to be neutered/spayed. The other three developed upper respiratory infections, so they lived with us awhile longer. John also had a heart murmur, which meant he would need to be a special adoptable.
At the time, my friend was looking for another cat. We brought John over to her house, and they bonded that night. In fact, John started a lifelong habit of curling around her neck. She would probably say that that particular behavior was a lot cuter when he was a kitten.
My friend was approved to adopt him and changed his name to Oliver, since she had a relative named John. My husband stubbornly insisted on calling him Oliver John.
Oliver was one of the happiest cats I’ve ever known. He was insatiably curious and found joy in everything around him. Nothing phased him—not his big sister Daisy’s hissing, not the new dog, not moving to a new house—until cancer stole his ability to walk in a matter of days.
I visited Oliver on his last day to offer him Reiki. He didn’t look like himself anymore. The light had left his eyes. As he took some Reiki energy, he relaxed and accepted it was his time to go.
He left this world far too soon for all of us. Even though he is gone, his memory reminds us how joy can light up your eyes and your world.