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

  • Lynn Neuberg Sunday, 25 August 2013

    You were sooo loved, Homer, run free and happy in Heaven

    I read and LOVED your book, Gwen, it touched my heart as an avid cat lover all my life. I am sad to hear of the loss of your beloved Homer. Our hearts break each time we lose our kitties..I always say "each loss leaves a small crack in our hearts" so we go on, but, always have that tiny brokenness inside of missing them forever..thank you for loving him and sharing his sweet and smart personality with all of us! I am keeping your book with my special cat book collection forever.

  • Sally Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Peace to you

    Dear Gwen, I am so sorry to hear about sweet Homer bear. I consider myself very fortunate to have found your book and then your blog and then your Facebook page. Sharing Homer ( and Scarlett and Vashti (and Laurence)) with us - total strangers - was such a loving thing to do. And so today, many people are thinking of you and your family and wishing you peace and strength. I hope you can feel the love everyone has for you and Homer. He was and always will be an amazing kitty. I also hope that you find some comfort with Fanny and Clayton - I know that they love you and will care for you as Homer would. Hugs to you all.

  • Bird & Danny Kooistra Sunday, 25 August 2013

    My heart felt wish...

    For you who are left here to morn such an astonishing furrrbaby. Yes they indeed are our children. They make me wish I had a tail !

  • On Facebook, Cats Are Angels (Helana) Sunday, 25 August 2013

    So deeply sorry.

  • Marian Sunday, 25 August 2013

    He was Perfect!!

    So beautiful. Thank you for sharing a part of the life of your perfect little cat with us!

  • Dawn White Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Fly free, sweet Homer

    My deepest, deepest condolences at this time. Homer touched so many lives and hearts, including my own, and he will never be forgotten. He made a difference. I will miss him.

  • Aimee Sunday, 25 August 2013

    I'm crying too. I will miss you Homer. Thank you Gwen for sharing Homer's story with the world.

  • Tillie and Georgia Sunday, 25 August 2013

    We are so sorry to hear about Homer.
    It is hard to lose a beloved kitty and even
    harder to lose your soul kitty.
    We know words are not enough, so we
    will send you comforting purrs.
    Purrs Tillie and Georgia,
    Treasure,Tiger, JJ and Julie
    and mom Nancy

  • Carla Tolbert Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Thank you for sharing Homer

    I'm so sorry to hear about Homer. I "met" him through his FB page, and like everyone else felt that I'd met a new kitty friend. And now feel that I've lost him too. I know how difficult your decision was, even if it was the right one to make. I did the same thing for my sweet Koza when she was 18. And I miss her every day. She was my Homer. I'm sorry you have to go through this, it's a terrible time. Your Homer was loved and will be missed.

  • Rebecca De Lacy Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Rest Well Little One

    Dearest Homer, you were one inspiring kitty. I enjoyed reading about you in "Homer's Odyssey". Rest well little one.

    Dear Gwen, my heart aches for you and I grieve with you. Thank you for sharing your precious boy with the world. Love & Prayers from me and soothing, gentle purrs from Yoda, Beetle & Spook

  • Yvonne Powell-Bayne Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Thank you, Homer, for being you!

    Gwen, I am so sorry for your terrible loss. We all know that Homer was more than special. Those of us who have had cats make a difference in their lives mourn with you. I have suffered my own loss of MY special cat, Jasper, who, much like Homer, rescued me as much as I rescued him. I lost him seven years ago, and, even though I have found two other cats to share my life, I miss Jasper. God bless you, Laurence and your other fur babies, as you process this loss. Thanks to you, God blessed Homer every day of his life, as he blessed you with Homer. You have my deepest sympathy and my love.

  • Laura Bybee Sunday, 25 August 2013

    My heart too is breaking at this news as it refreshes the agony of losing my beloved pets over the years. I've never been able to verbalize the depth of pain I've felt but when I read what you wrote about phantom pain when losing a limb and the similarity to what you are feeling with Homer's passing, my whole being cried out along with the tears "YES!!! She understands!" Thank you for putting the emotions to "paper" that I think we all have when we lose our pets so eloquently.

    May peace be unto your soul.

  • Orange Ruffy Sunday, 25 August 2013

    From Orange Ruffy:

    Dear Gwen,
    As cats, we are remarkable creatures, spirits that dance between the worlds with tiny mincing steps, our tails high, stalking, always, that which you can't see, playing with companions that are to you invisible.
    'Death' dear Gwen, has no meaning to us....we are Fetch's, blurs of color and light and dark, passing through realms on the way to Home, and stopping, for a moment, to cast a glance over our shoulder, to invite, to cajole, to let you know, beloved one, that you are no more alone than we...for we are Cat.
    We are mysterious wonders that come to make this world shine, to wander into your yard, your back garden, your life with utter pathos or comical humor. We gather your soul to us with our purrs, tucking it carefully between paws that are meant for kneading, and so we make you family, become your Familars with a self assured wonder. For we are wonderous, beings of shadow and warm, and yet, we bask in the light of the sun, stretching out to touch those that have come to lay close by, though yet unseen by you....but we know you feel them.
    As I write this, I stretch out in the warm of the late afternoon sun. I see a streak of black and touch noses with he who has been my inspiration, as all are who have Gone Before Me, completing that cycle of love and light to leap back up and out back to that Shining place we come from-and that, yes, we allow you glimpses of in our eyes. And what, you say, if the cat has no eyes-ah, just eyes that to some may not be visible-for our souls and spirits sense what we need not see...and beyond, all is returned to us...
    and the lessons learned, we turn on the threshold, our Guides before us, surrounding us, and we regard you with the most pure love. For you are a part of us. You are that great love we all must have. You chart out progress, though you may not know-as we, dear Gwen, chart yours.
    And so, I rise up, and Salute with the Power of the Paw, Homer, who came to teach, to love, to streak ahead perhaps a little ahead, and I watch others learn and grow and love.
    For you see, dear loving person,
    That is what it's all about.

    love and light,
    The Warrior Poet of Catster

    Orange Ruffy

  • Juliane Sunday, 25 August 2013

    heartache

    Dear Gwen,
    As I read this blog post, my eyes filled with tears and stroking the back of my own beautiful black kitty, I was once again reminded how quickly and how deeply these little fur people burrow themselves into our hearts and stay forever. As much as I'm sure Clayton and Fanny are cherished, they can not take the place of Handsome Homer. Homer was with you through tough times as my Neo has been with me. That makes them even more special, if that is even possible.

    My heart aches for you, Lawrence, Clayton, Fanny, and all of Homer's adoring fans. He was an extraordinary little spitfire and he will be truly missed. Be comforted though, that Homer's memory does not just live on with you and your family, but millions of people who've read his story.

  • Carla Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Oh my Dear Gwen....

    I saw your post this morning at work, and after reading the first line I had to stop...I was already crying...And Now That Im home, where I can cry along with everyone else...Its Ok! Bless you and Homer...For making life a bit more optomistic when my dear Kiwi Had to leave me, And Thank you for putting it so perfectly in your blog post, all about how you feel, and how It made me feel like someone understood how I felt and could simply not explain...They Are buddies now I'm sure, Kiwi And Homer. Kiwi had the biggest heart. So compassionate and loving...He helped make me who I am...And That Homer! he helped too...Its just amazing the relationships we have grow....And will live on forever in our hearts. I Cry about Kiwi all the time, years later, and keep thinking hes going to jump on the bed at any minute...But no, Thats My Flynn...And he Is perfect too....Big Hugs...

  • Mary Lemmert Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Well done, Homer

    Gwen, I am so sorry to hear your news. I was touched by Homer's story and have followed the Facebook page since I read the book. I have two cats of my own. I know how sad I am right now and can only imagine what you are feeling. I believe God uses people and I believe He uses animals to bless the lives of the people around them. Homer was a blessing to you, I know, and to so many others who read his story. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope you can take comfort in the thought that your little Homer is with Scarlett and Vashti, running and playing and seeing. I imagine Jesus cuddling Homer in His arms and saying, "Well done, little friend." God bless you!

  • Kelly Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Thank you Gwen and Homer

    Homer your spirit and full hearted love of Gwen touched me deeply and filled my heart up with love. You were such a great gift to Gwen and to all that read about you. You inspired me to live instead of hide in fear. Such a beautiful spirit and incredible gift to so many.
    Gwen, thank you for sharing Homer with us. You had the courage and wisdom to share your gift of writing and Homer was the perfect hero to write about. That is just one of many things Homer was, a hero. A gift from above. Homer is not gone Gwen. He is and always will be with you and you will be with him again. I myself have felt this kind of loss and will soon again as my beautiful, sweet girl, Hollie, has bladder cancer. So I have learned that there is a hole in my heart from the previous loss, but others come to help our hearts. Homer will be there guiding you and purring in your ear.
    Hugs and love to you.

  • Jari Sunday, 25 August 2013

    I'm crying so much that I could barely read the words...godspeed Homer... you have & will continue to inspire me to not let anything get me down. Love to Gwen & Lawrence

  • Laura Skells Sunday, 25 August 2013

    We will all miss you Homer. You have been a great inspiration to so many of us. I felt like I was one of your honorary humans, even though I never had the pleasure of meeting you in person.

    My love and thoughts go out to you Gwen. Thank you for sharing Homer's story with the rest of us.

  • Sister Simon Clare Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Sleep well, little treasure.

    I'm so sorry. I still carry a hole inside where another little black boy lived. He sleeps now, under the apple tree. I look at his brother,polydactyl black heart of my heart and know that day is inevitable,and when it comes I will be shattered.I've been told so many times its the price of loving a creature who has that much shorter of a lifetime. I think its the price of having, for a time, the perfect privelege of living with one of Gods treasures.And I wouldn't give back one second of it if it meant I had to cry all the tears in the world. I'll say a prayer for his peaceful rest, and your saddened heart. He'll send another one who needs you before too long. Blessings

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