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

  • Hope Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Little Boy

    Heartwrenching...he is your baby...my heart aches for you. No more words to say. I truly know the feeling. Sick. xxxxxxxxxx I sobbed over this. I will probably reread the book in honor of your Baby boy.

  • sandy medina Sunday, 25 August 2013

    i don't know you Gwen and this is the 1st time i've heard of Homer,but there are tears just flowing like rivers down my face and i can't stop crying,for i also know how it feels to lose a cat that i swear was truly a part of me,my heart being ripped out and the thought of ever getting another cat was too unbearable to think of,like it would be dishonoring the love i have for 2 of the cats i had who have gone to Rainbow Bridge....well i am on my 3rd kitteh and his name is buddy,my friend called me one day and said he was at an animal hospital and there was a cat that they were gonna put to sleep the next day,i asked him WTH was he trying to do to me?as i lost the love of my life that i had for 17 years several years before,and didn't think i was ready for another cat,well i could not bear the thought of them putting this cat to sleep so i told my best friend to get him outta there by any means so he did and he came to my apartment and opened the door to the crate he was in....out walks very timidly the biggest gray cat i have ever seen in my life,he was 20 pounds,lol i was in shock,by best friend started to tell me a lil about the cat whom they had called buddy,i learned that buddy was Feline HIV positive and 3 people had adopted him but had brought him back to the animal hospital,i do not know why,anyway i fully expected to make some calls to find him a home,but after about 2 weeks i looked down at this beautiful cat who by now had shown me such affection i couldn't give him up,i truly believe he is the one who rescued me!! i know it ,i was lonely and because my health is not so great i didn't get out much,but he was always right by my side,kissing me and head bonking me..took him to the vet to get him a physical,and the vet said he could live a perfectly good normal life and that all i had to do was make sure that he lived in the most stress free environment,well 10 years have gone by and my buddy boy is still the best lil boy and so oving that i don't know what i'd do w/o him....so i totally understand how you feel Gwen...i know you'll be alright someday and hopefully you'll get another kitten,at least i hope you do,you have too much love left inside not to share it with another kitty that may need you,Good Luck and i'm really so sorry for the loss of Homer

  • Nan Peeples Sunday, 25 August 2013

    HOMER

    Homer brought so much to so many. It was by accident that I saw and purchased the book a couple of years ago. The best story ever told. When I think I can't, I remember Homer, and know that I can. He will live on in our hearts. I wish I could comfort you, Gwen. Thank you for sharing Homer with the world.

  • Debby Montague Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Homer

    I am so very sad that Homer is gone. He was truly a hero, for you and for all the blind, abused and abandoned cats in the world. You're a hero, too, Gwen, for adopting Homer and for telling the world his story. I lost my Ernie a few months ago and I still expect him to feel him climb next to me and purr me to sleep so I think I understand how you feel when you say it's like losing a limb. I am so sorry for your loss, Gwen, and I thank you for sharing Homer with us, and making us hug our own dear friends a little harder.
    "I would hold up your heart if I could" - Nero Wolfe

  • Jari Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Dearest Homer

    I never met you, but you have been, and always will be, such an inspiration to me...I loved reading about your boundless energy, curiosity and huge heart full of love for Gwen. I could barely read Gwen's blog through all my tears ... I'm crying like I lost one of my own. Gwen & Lawrence -- big hugs to you guys as you deal with this loss...he was so awesome and you were so awesome to him. Peace & Godspeed little one...may your next adventure be truly grand.

  • Annisa Blake Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Tears are running down my face for this inspirational cat and the woman who loved him. My heartfelt condolences Gwen. I can truly say that Homer's book is one of my favourites, what better subject for a story than a beautiful, loving cat :)

  • Barbara Moretti Sunday, 25 August 2013

    The Rainbow Bridge is a little brighter now

    Dear Gwen, like so many others who have posted this, I am sitting here with tears running down my face...just as they did when I read Homer's Odyssey. All of our lives have been touched and blessed by Homer, his love for you, and your love for him. I think as he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, it became brighter through the magic of his spirit. Thank you for sharing him with us.

  • Traci Bookbinder, CVT Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Gwen, I believe it is a gift when people and animals are brought together. I have been a veterinary technician for about 18 yrs and have made the calls you received when you first were called about Homer. I have no doubt, that he is waiting for you in the next phase of his journey and you will be able to be together again. You will see him again, and he you. Thinking of you both and so very happy to share in your journey. Look around.. you will see him.. I know this to be true. Peace to you.

  • Geri Minard Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Thank you to you and Homer for making a difference

    If it wasn't for you and Homer so many people would not know how blind cats are able to live wonderful, happy, normal lives. The two of you have helped the plight of so many cats and kittens and that is priceless. Thank you for giving Homer a chance when no one else would. Gwen, you have a heart of gold and I hope you and Laurence will soon be able to smile and laugh when you think of those special memories of Homer. Homer will not ever be forgotten. He was one of a kind as are you. With my deepest sympathy.

  • Sherry Martzall Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Dear Gwen & Family
    I, like everyone else learned to love Homer thru you and his stories. Anyone who is an animal lover knows the pain of this loss. There are no words of comfort that are adequate, only know that he was loved and will be remembered as the wonderful companion to you and our storybook kitty. Blessings to you and your family as you work thru your grief.

  • Carolyn Barnes Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Homer

    We'll miss you Sweet little boy Homer! God bless you Gwen for all you do for kitties like Homer. I lost my Sam kitty last year, I still have my Cali, I'd like to adopt a kitty in Homer's memory. My thoughts & prayers are with you as you mourn the loss of your sweet little boy.

  • Bernie Semenjuk Sunday, 25 August 2013

    So eloquently stated, Gwen. Homer's story and life, which you so kindly shared with us, has indeed made the world a better place.

    We grieve with you and your family in quiet and reflective sadness. May his memories comfort you.

    We miss you Homer, but your spirit lives on in our hearts.

  • Patti Sunday, 25 August 2013

    R.I.P. Sweet Homer

    Gentle purrs to you, Gwen. I understand the pain. I, too have a totally (no eyes) all black
    kitty."Evan" Evan sends hugs & purrs.....

  • Martin Fors Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Homer and Sammy

    Hi Gwen,
    I feel your great loss. I lost Sammy [Samson, really, with the long hair] my Maine Coon cat after 17 years of love. He overnight hiked with me in the White Montains; came when I whistled; road in the car and boat [watching the waves go by;] slept on my feet; woke us in the morning... many of Homer's loving characteristics. Sammy died in our living room after being on our laps for many hours. We still miss him so much. God be with you as you remember a special loved one.

  • Karen Phelps Sunday, 25 August 2013

    I'm sorry

    My condolences, I am just discovering you and Homer for the first time, I can relate to your pain. I lost my Jesse in March after 15 years together. He, too, was a rescue, but unlike Homer he was perfectly healthy until about 8 years when he was diagnosed with diabetes. I spent 8 years and thousands of dollars trying to keep him healthy and alive. Twice daily insulin shots, hundreds of glucose tests, hours and days of worry. I gave him my all, he was my baby, that was his other name "the baby". I made up my own song for him, I gave him different food from all the others (I still have 6 other rescues), I did everything on earth I could for him. The vet consoled me by saying many opt to put their cats down immediately rather than put so much effort into them and that he had undoubtedly lived as long as he did because I gave him so much. I miss him every day. I still yearn for and cry for him everyday. Please accept my condolences, I believe I know how you feel.

  • Brenda Sunday, 25 August 2013

    I am in tears and this is the first thing I have ever read about Homer. It is clear that your love is beyond special and that the bond you had can only be remotely understood by only those who also had a pet whom they loved on a deeper level but has now crossed to the other side of the rainbow. I wish you peace during this difficult time.

  • Mary Ann Palumbo Carlucci Sunday, 25 August 2013

    So Sad For Your Loss.

    Gwen, Very few people can understand when you speak of what Homer meant to you. I understand that connection. My Precious went to the Rainbow Bridge at about after some health issues one causing her to become blind. Cats adapt very fast. I thought she was blind all of her life. We had that same connection. RIP Homer and I hope you meet my baby Precious at the Rainbow Bridge. You'll know which one she is.

  • Elizabeth Knack Sunday, 25 August 2013

    So very sorry for your loss.

    I share your saddness... dear Homer may be gone but will never be forgotton

  • Sherri Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Hugs

    With tears streaming down my face I have gone to each of my 4 cats to give them a hug and whisper the words I Love You in their ears......Purrs from Tazz, Tigger, Nola and Mr. Jaz

  • Renee Sunday, 25 August 2013

    You were so blessed by Homer and he was so blessed by you.... I have walked that path so many times, it never gets easier, but the pain does ease... I think of all my beloved cats waiting for me at the "Rainbow Bridge" and rejoice that they are no longer old and in pain....

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