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

  • Carol S Sunday, 25 August 2013

    So Sorry

    I'm sorry for your loss and ours.

  • TGG1804 Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Rest in peace Homer, run free at the rainbow bridge.

  • Bernadette from The Creative Cat Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Sweet Homer

    Gwen, it's that quiet moment of just you and him that hurts so much, but it was also that quiet moment of just the two of you in the world that filled your hearts, and someday it will again. It was easy to see how devoted Homer was to you, and how hard it was for him to leave. The two of you are lucky beyond compare to have found each other and shared such a love. My heart is with you in your grief.

  • Shannon Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Shannon

    Gwen, I had to stop reading your blog post half way through because your "phantom pain" reminds me so much of my own. I wish I could say that it gets easier and that you 'get over it', but I don't believe you do. You have to start relearning habits and actions from a lifetime ago and it breaks your heart every time you don't do something for them. But, it does get a little less painful, after a while.

    I'm so sorry for your loss, Gwen. Please remember that you have the support and sympathy right now of everyone who loves cats and has ever lost that part of themselves.

  • Margie Oliveira Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Gwen, I am so so sorry you lost your best friend and soul mate. Know millions of people are crying with you and feel your pain and sadness. I rescued a kitten yrs ago who had severe disabilities and I named him Homer in honor or your kitty. He went to a good home as I could not give him the attention he needed. I already had 20 plus other animals. He needed and deserved more. Letting him go was the hardest thing I ever did. Thank you so much for sharing your boy with all of us. Both of you made our lives all the better. RIP sweet Homer!

  • Kristin Messina Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Homer

    Your story moved me so much Gwen..it is as though I know you and knew Homer. Once in a lifetime something or someone comes into your life that when they are gone you are never the same person. I have had that experience as you did and I feel blessed. Sending warm wishes to comfort you during this time and also to say thank you for adopting Homer, for loving him and for all that you do. You, your story and Homer have made a difference in my life...

  • Patricia Murphy Sunday, 25 August 2013

    My sympathies

    RIP Homer. I read the book your purrson wrote and was very inspired and heartfelt by it. May you all meet again one day over the Rainbow Bridge.

  • Linda Sunday, 25 August 2013

    gwen even though it is hard now because of you homer had a wonderful life. he is whole now . my deepest sympathy it will get better.

  • Penny Sunday, 25 August 2013

    :(

    There are no words that can be said that will make the pain go away. I was in your position 6 years ago today when my best friend, a part of my life had to be taken away from me. He was 15.5 years old. I know your pain and I am so sorry. I also understand why you had to wait to write this. Devastated doesn't even come close to what you are feeling.

    Homer was very lucky boy to have found you. I have enjoyed reading about all of the silly and courageous things he has done going through life in darkness. Thank for sharing your life and Homer's life with the whole world. Because of this, many little lives were saved knowing what you did with Homer and others realizing they could do this too.

    RIP Homer. You are a wonder cat and the whole world will remember you.

  • Teri and the cats of Curlz and Swirlz Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Fly Free...Those we have loved remain in our hearts forever...

    Homer made a difference in your life and in the world...that is quite a legacy to leave behind...Fly Free, Homer

  • Amy N. Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Homer the wonderful cat

    Gwen and family, words cannot express how sorry I am for your loss. It's never easy to lose a loved one (2 or 4 legged), but please take comfort in knowing you provided him with a wonderful life, as he provided you with lots of love in return. He's certainly going to be watching you from above!

  • Stacy Bishop Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Thank you for sharing Homer. He was quite the character. Also thank you for putting into words what I had with 2 of my babies (Fuji - my blue eyed beauty & Ratdog - the best dog ever). They lived to love me. And likewise. They made me a better person. Your words are inspiring. I was never articulate enough to put it that way. You have my deepest sympathies. Homer feels your love even know. Take care!!

  • Timmy Tomcat Sunday, 25 August 2013

    We send support

    We thank Homer for his wonderful gifts to all of us. We are sad and cannot seem to find words.
    Love from all of us
    Timmy, Dad and Family

  • The Island Cats Sunday, 25 August 2013

    What a beautiful tribute to Homer. He was a inspiration to us all...both fur and human. Thank you, Gwen, for sharing him with the world. Gentle purrs, headbutts and hugs to you.

    RIP, sweet Homer...you will be truly missed.

    Wally, Ernie, Zoey and mom Sue

  • Liz Westcott Sunday, 25 August 2013

    RIP Homer

    I am so very sorry for your deep loss Gwen. Your entry has me in tears because I know your pain. Your words have touched us all that have loved and lost our special pets.

  • Carolyn Smith Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Farewell sweet Homer

    My own dear black cat is sitting here with me and asking why I have water running down my face. I am so sorry for your loss. I know Homer was very special. If we care for animals and take them into our lives, ultimately we all go through this pain. It's very different to the pain of losing human loved ones. For me it has always been deeply agonizing but I can't imagine my life without the wonderful animals I have known. Homer will never be forgotten and although you can no longer see him, he will always be in your heart. God bless you Homer. Thank you for your wonderful story. God bless you too Gwen.

  • A. Malcolm Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Ladybugallie629

    There are times when there are no words. May God bless you, hubby and Homer.

  • Dolf Patijn Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Sleep soft dear Homer.

    Dear Gwen.
    I don't know you personally but through your book I like to think that I know you a bit. My partner Orla and I have two cats from a shelter and love them to bits.
    You were so good to take in a blind cat that nobody wanted. You gave him so much love and got so much in return and despite the pain of losing Homer, your feline friend and family member, you will always have the memories that will keep him alive. He had a great life with you. He was well loved and well cared for. If it hadn't been for you he would have died as a kitten, not being able to have all these experiences and to experience love from you and other humans connected to you. Homer's story that you wrote down is such an inspirational story. It wouldn't have been out there if the two of ye hadn't had a life together. I raise my glass to Homer, the brave tomcat in celebration of a full life well lived.
    Lots of love from my partner Orla, Tina and Charlie (my tortieshell lady and ginger and white tom) and myself.
    Dolf.

  • SAMANTHA Sunday, 25 August 2013

    R.I.P SWEET HOMER

    SWEET SLUMBER MY DEAREST HOMER. YOU ARE NOW BACK WITH YOUR SISFURS.
    GOOD NIGHT TO OUR SWEET LITTLE PRINCE. HEAD BUMPS & PURRRRZ =^..^=
    My Sympathy for Gwen & Lawrence :'(

  • Darla Madison Sunday, 25 August 2013

    Homer

    Oh, wow! I just BAWLED like a baby after I read your blog. God bless Homer in heaven!

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