Homer

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If you’ve come here from Homer’s Facebook page, then you already know this is the blog post I’ve dreaded writing since I first started this blog four years ago. And yet, ultimately I’m here not to mourn a loss, but rather to celebrate a life lived in full—a life that was lived beyond what even I could ever have imagined for him.

He was the kitten nobody wanted. After years of love and ardent admiration from those who knew him best, after tens of thousands of fan letters and gifts from those who loved him through his book, and millions of readers in more than 22 languages and countries all over the world, it’s hard to believe that this was how he came to me—because dozens of other people who’d had the chance to adopt him turned him down. It was unquestionably my great good fortune that none of them thought it was even worth meeting him. Fate may have taken Homer’s eyes, but he had my heart from the moment I first held him as a tiny kitten in a box in my vet’s office, 16 years ago.

He was just one cat. One tiny, big-hearted, irrepressible, brave and loyal little cat. Who could possibly have foreseen that he would come to mean so much to so many? Those of us who work in animal rescue believe that every animal matters. We believe that every life—no matter how small, or how steep the odds are against it—can make a difference. Every animal who’s given the chance to love and be loved can make someone else’s life better, can fill up empty places in our hearts we didn’t even know were there until they were full. And, once in a great while, one tiny creature can have a spirit so big that it spills over and makes the whole world just a little bit better, and happier, and more inspired, than it was before. Even in the darkest places are small lights that can grow and grow until they warm us all.

If I’ve been speaking in generalities, it’s because my specific loss—the loss not just of “Homer the Blind Wonder Cat,” but of my Homer, my cat—is almost more than I can bear. I’ve lost two cats before I lost Homer, and both of those losses were among the most painful times in my life. But losing Homer has been something beyond pain, something I still can’t quite push into enough to work through it. I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself, some essential part of my body that I keep expecting to be there—and my mind simply won’t accept that it isn’t. Doctors talk about “phantom pain” when a person loses a limb, but their brain hasn’t understood that yet and keeps trying to send nerve impulses to the place where that arm or leg used to be. That’s how I feel now. How can I learn to walk again without a leg that my mind keeps insisting is still there? How can I grieve for a loss that I still haven’t come close to accepting is real and permanent?

The thought that keeps coming to me is that nobody will ever love me again like Homer did.  I know how self-pitying that sounds, and I should clarify that I don’t mean to say that nobody will ever love as much as Homer did. I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to have known a great deal of love—love that has gone on four legs and two—in my life. But Homer, even at his most rambunctious and curious and engaged with the world around him, lived to love me. He lived to love me. And even after all the writing about Homer, and worrying about him, and building the person I grew into around him, I still feel that it’s only now—now that the knowledge is sinking in that I’ll never, never see him again in this life—that I’m realizing fully how much of my own life was lived for the sake of loving him back.

As many of you know, I donate 10% of my royalties from Homer’s Odyssey to organizations that serve abused, abandoned, and disabled animals. To keep Homer’s memory alive—and to give chances to other animals like Homer, who are so frequently overlooked simply because they aren’t “perfect”—I’m creating the Homer’s Heroes Fund. Every year, I will make a donation in Homer’s name to a shelter or rescue group that does outstanding work with “special needs” animals.  My newest book, Love Saves the Day, will come out in paperback on October 22nd. For every copy of the paperback that is pre-ordered or bought in-store or online between now and Sunday, October 27th, I will donate 100% of my royalties to a shelter/rescue group through the Homer’s Heroes Fund. (I will be announcing which shelter that will be next week.) I always say that Love Saves the Day is narrated by a rescue cat, but ultimately it isn’t a novel about cat rescue. Still, love did save the day when I got a call from my vet about an abandoned blind kitten, and the two of us—this little scrap of a kitten and I—decided to rescue each other.

Homer was the world’s cat. I know how many others will mourn his loss with me, and the knowledge that he was so loved by so many is a greater balm to my spirit right now than I can fully express. As is the knowledge that Homer will live on in the memories of so many that a piece of him will always be here. A spirit as big as his can never die entirely.

I celebrate Homer and the life that he lived, the love that he gave, the odds he overcame to grow into a housecat with a lion’s heart who touched so many people and saved the lives of so many other cats like him.

And I grieve for the loss of my boy, my little, little boy, the heart of my heart and the very best part of the person I always wanted to be. I do try to take comfort in the knowledge that Homer is whole now, and at peace—and that he will always, always be loved.

Vaya con dios, my love. My great love,  You were the one who taught me that love truly isn’t something you see with your eyes. Eras much gato.

Comments

  • Charlotte Whittler Sunday, 25 August 2013

    So sad to hear about Homer. He was that one cat whose spirit meshed with your's completely. We all love our cats, but a relationship like that is very special and rare.

  • Maria Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Addio Homer

    Tutto il mondo ti voleva bene! Rest in peace Homer, the whole world loved you!
    Gwen, there are so many people who grieve with you for your little boy! You are not alone!

  • Diane Leibel Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Dear Gwen, so very sorry for your loss. Although I never met Homer, I feel I knew him by reading Homer's Odyssey. It opened my eyes about blind cats. I never knew they could have normal lives. Homer will never be forgotten, his memory will always live on. Homer, Scarlett, and Vashti are all together again and happy and healthy. May God bless you and comfort you.

  • Terri Kalinowski Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Rest in peace sweet angel Homer

    Thank you so much for sharing your Homer with all of us. He will always be cherished. I'm so grateful that you found each other.

  • Deb Hayes Sunday, 25 August 2013

    I am so so very sorry

    Dear Gwen

    I remember the first time I read Homers story and fell in love with him too. I have known the joys and sorrow of losing that one "special" cat. They are all special but there is always that soul mate cat. Sending lots of love and ((((((((hugs)))))))))) and purrrs from Canada. Homer was a great soul and bigger than he knew he was.

  • Barbara Sciaraffa Sunday, 25 August 2013

    I am in tears and feel your pain. I know you will miss Homer forever. My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of mourning.

  • Bonnie Dias Sunday, 25 August 2013

    TO MY LITTLE INSPIRATION

    I'm writing this with tears in my eyes. It's amazing how one little black cat can make you put your life in perspective. When ever I was feeling sorry for myself I thought of the little blind black cat that REFUSED to feel sorry for himself. He certainly lived his life to the fullest. So glad I got to hear his story. RIP my precious little one. Gwen, you and your family are special for giving this special little cat your love and his voice. Even though we will all miss him I'd like to think he is SEEING the other side of the Rainbow Bridge and enjoying its wonders!! You will all be in my prayers, Love Bonnie

  • Jana Sunday, 25 August 2013

    See you on the other side Homer

    Though I had never heard of Homer before today I am glad to have "met" him and his owner through this post. I went to Homer's page and watched the video on the far right side where his human read the first chapter in her book and Homer played with a catnip bag. Very adorable and brought tears to my eyes. See you on the side Homer...

  • Deylu Rincon Sunday, 25 August 2013

    I just lost one of my seven cats and reading simply can't stop crying

    I feel the same. Sorry for your lost!!

  • Annette Faucett Sunday, 25 August 2013

    I will miss Homer

    I can't stop crying.. I love Homer as the world did.. He book was the best...I am happy that he is not in pain anymore, but will never forget Homer..
    My sorrow goes out to you.
    Love Annette

  • Sandra Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Run with the Butterflies Homer!

    Well Said, Gwen...I sooooo feel your pain...I'm still mourning the loss of my horse Jack...who Crossed Over Last January...His pasture is empty...My heart has a huge hole in it...Our Farm is not the same, nor will it ever be. We have to go on, albeit, it's tough..We cannot even look at his pasture or pictures, without breaking down.

    thank-you so much for sharing "Your Homer" with all of us...He became "Our Homer" I will mourn his passing as if he was my own kitty...I will never pass over a "special needs" animal...You are a treasure Gwen...God gave you a "Gift" and You shared that "Gift" with all of Us!!...I hope You will continue to Share Your Gift...Please accept my deepest sympathies....Sleep well tonite...Homer, run in meadows filled with butterflies...Have fun...but remember to always send "Butterfly Kisses home to Your Mommy"...I love You Homer...We all love and appreciate you, Gwen...Thank-You So Much...I'm so sorry for your loss...

  • Angel Abby Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Farewell Homer

    Gwen I have recently suffered the loss of my beloved girl, Abby. She passed August 12, 2013 at 9:55pm in my arms, her heart beating to the beat of my heart. When her heart stopped mine did too. I am in your words truly and understand the pain and sorrow your heart feels. There are no words to describe it. Aside from my feelings about Abby, I must tell you how very sorry I am to hear about the loss of Homer. For those of us who followed and loved his spirit, it is by no means any understanding of how devastating this loss is for you. Anyone who has lost their heart & soul kitty understands. Will keep you in my prayers and thoughts and Homer too. There is much to be celebrated about his life this is true, but there is much grieving to do as well that will validate his life and your loss. If you believe as I do that one day there will be a time to reunite that will bring some solace. But it is difficult to know that there will never be any more kisses or cuddles on this earth, I know that is a thing I am struggling with myself. I want so much to just hold her one more time to have that one more day with her. I know I can't but I still want it. I hope for your healing as well as my own. I have so enjoyed being a part of Homer's journey, thank you for sharing him with us.

  • J. Jackson Sunday, 25 August 2013

    I am so very sorry to learn of Homer's passing. Holding you in the light as you deal with his passing.

  • Molly's Mom Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Oh what an angel kitty you had. He can see now that he is in Heaven. I still ache for our 5 little rescues over the years. Now, we have rescued "Molly." Each rescue offers a fresh love. Perhaps when you heal, another cat with a disability will find his way into your heart. He will not replace Homer, but will love you for saving him.

  • Melanie Sunday, 25 August 2013

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing Homer with us. I agree with you, he is whole and at peace. Lots of love to you and him.

  • Natalie ._c- Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Disabled cats

    I have a cat, Dimity Jane, with cerebellar hypoplasia, the feline equivalent of cerebral palsy, and she had a tough start to life, and has always been developmentally behind. At 10 months, she still doesn't know what a litter box is for, and so I diaper her, and am careful to change her when necessary. I read Homer's story and I feel some kinship with you because we both saved cats who might otherwise have been put down. Dimity is happy, and does what a cat should do, even if in her own clumsy way, and she is a joy to have and love. I'm glad you had the same with Homer.

  • Maria Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Thank you for Sharing Homer with us all

    Dear Gwen , we are so devastated at hearing about the passing of Homer the great as we called him. What a brave and beautiful soul he was and always shall be. I know your pain, understand the enormity of it as it crushes you with its weight, but the love that you both shared will eventually triumph over the pain and will comfort you with memory and love. Thank you for sharing Homer with us. He will be loved by us for eternity. Much love groom Maria and @Staratiara xx

  • Connie Mason Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Gwen,
    My heart feels your grief. Have been there, done that. Although my loves of my life weren't world loved companions, I can feel the loss with you. Homer's book was the first one I'd read in over a decade and was recommended and loaned to me hy our church librarian. I have since purchased the book to re-read when I need encouragement. I have also purchased Love Saves The Day.

    Your ability to relate your bond and unfaltering love to Homer and the never ending love he returned isheart warming and tear jerking all at the same time.

    There's a special place in Heaven for people like you. And you'll have a reunion with your beloved boy then.

    Continue your good works as well as Homer's. It is your gift.

  • Sandy Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Thank You

    Gwen-Thank you so much for sharing sweet Homer with the world. He was a wonderful teacher and mentor to us all. Rest in peace our sweet boy.

  • Wesley Sunday, 25 August 2013

    So Sorry

    Homer really spoke to me, so much so that I read the book twice to make sure I took it all in. Reading your thoughts on Homer and what he accomplished was so inspiring. The other thing I took from you and Homer was that if we pick something, a blind cat, a foster child, or city park, something, and commit that we will make it better, then we can end up better as well.

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