Ashes & Ashes
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"And How Are the Boys Doing?"




I've been asked that question a lot lately.

Overall, I think the boys are coping with the double-whammy loss pretty well, albeit each in their own way, at their own pace. 

Noah -- who remembers the loss of his grandfather the most vividly -- is probably doing the "best," although that's really not the right word. He's the most pragmatic and accepting, it's pretty matter-of-fact to him now. As I already wrote when we broke the news about Ceiba, he very literally experienced every distinct stage of grief right there at the dinner table, one right after the other. After that, he was "okay," more or less. He understood why we had to put her down and would patiently explain it to his brothers ("she's sick and going to die anyway, it's our job as her people to make sure it's not painful"). He sought Ceiba out for extra love and attention during her last days, but was also very focused on the exciting possibility of a new dog. 


His rapid-fire approach to grief certainly came in handy with Max, as we had less than zero time to adequately prepare the boys for what was happening. They'd known he'd been sick for a long time, and we'd long-ago discussed the fact that his illness (kidney failure) was treatable, but not curable. He could live for a few months or a few years, he's already very very old, so let's all make the most of our time together, blah blah blah. 

Honestly, Noah was mostly concerned about how visibly upset his dad was. We certainly didn't hide our emotions from them with regards to Ceiba, but Jason came home from work that day still stubbornly believing Max had months left to live. He then tried to justify a few more days, before finally I think the denial blinders came off and the crushing reality of what had to happen (and had to happen ASAP), hit him really, really hard. 


Beau's presence was definitely a big help, for Noah in particular. We'd only brought him home like 18 hours before we said goodbye to Max, but it was love at first sight for these two. Beau's energy level and style of play mirrors Noah's own, and they're having a ton of fun together. 

Ezra and Ike are definitely still working through everything, which is perfectly understandable. Ezra was so young when my dad died and Ike wasn't even born, so this is really their first big-time experience with death. And having two to process so close together, well, Christ. I'm right there with them.

Ezra is still meeting weekly with his school's guidance counselor, which DAMN, that's nice, I did not know that was even A Thing He Could Do. I don't know how much it REALLY is about him being so sad he needs to talk to someone and how much it's about the fact that the guidance counselor is young and pretty and pulls him out of class to play games with him (I see you, Zah) but better safe than sorry. 

He and Ike both tend to bring the pets up out of the blue. "It was so sad when Max and Ceiba had to die," Ike said last night at dinner. Yes, it definitely was. "I miss them so much," Ezra said at breakfast. Yes, we all do. 

They both agree that Beau is so cute and so adorable and so fun to play with. They never knew Ceiba when she was really young so Beau is practically a puppy in comparison. Ike needs occasional reassurance that Beau isn't going to die (or more specifically, that we don't have any plans to "kill" him, because we're apparently pet serial killers now). Ezra mostly just wants to know when we're getting a new cat. 

(Yeeeeeeah, another question people keep asking. I don't know. I was super easily talked into a new dog but remain the sole voice of dissent re: another cat. Partly because Beau needs a lot more time to settle in, partly because I think we'd have a SUPER hard time finding a cat that would be happy in a home like ours, and partly because Max was never a typical cat in behavior or personality -- he was more like a lap dog who just happened to use a litter box. So I'm sort of afraid we'll get a cat that acts more like a typical asshole cat and I won't like it very much.)

(And then Jason makes puppy [kitty?] eyes at me because he really wants another cat and goddammit I'm probably going to lose this one eventually.)

Anyway. That's how the boys are doing. Right there with the grown-ups in the house, I suppose. Good and bad and ups and downs and getting through it all with a some help from a new furry friend.


(If there are any typos in this post, this is probably why.)


Sue W.

Beau is a good Mommas helper! It's been almost 24 years since my dad died at only 61. Funny how the closer I get to that age, it doesn't seem quite so "old." There are still days I wish I could talk to him. You, Jason and the boys will always have good days and bad days. It's a part of life. You just have to give yourselves permission to grieve. It takes as long as it takes. And don't let anyone try to tell you any different. (((Hugs)))


This is where breeds come in handy! While there's always exceptions to the rule and no guarantees with behavior, I feel like your chances are better going with a specific breed that (usually) has certain characteristics. Researching breeds helped me to get a cat that would fit with our family better than just kind of hoping a mix worked out. Burmese and Ragdoll are two great options. We cannot imagine not having a Burmese in the house. Great, tolerant, playful, cuddly, dog-cats!


More cat breed talk- our maine coon is in heaven in a nutty 3 boy household. Acts like a typical ahole cat to outsiders- but LOVES his boys. I'm with Jason on this one! On another note- your school sounds awesome in so many ways- yay for the yellow house.


We put our cat down last October and it damn near ended me. The irony being the cat was a wedding gift to my husband and I didn't really want a cat anyway. Except that she became MY cat. By December I was ready to look for another cat. Whe people asked what I wanted (long hair, short hair, male, female etc.), I didn't care, I wanted a cat with personality. I went to look at a litter a friend had. I told her I was being picky and that I might not take one of hers. I just sat on the floor to see who was who. Most of them nibbled at my toes and then lost interest, then there was the one who walked right up to me. My hand was resting on the floor as I watch the siblings, this goober lays down on her back next to my hand and wiggles herself right underneath, the proceed to wrap all four paws around my hand and give me kisses. Yup, mine. She's a hoot and a half and oozes personality. She exceptionally tolerant of my rambunctious 11 y.o. and has the 5 y.o. Collie (who was terrified of our last cat) wrapped around her paw. Take some time. Meet some kittens and see who picks you. You'll be amazed.


We have a lap cat who adores people and is good with kids. Any good shelter with volunteers who play with the animals will be able to tell you about cat personalities and which ones are more dog-like.


I just wanted to second the recommendation about looking at breeds - and at Burmese in particular. Temperament-wise, they are very affectionate and are consistently called the most dog-like of cats.

If you're at all like me, and would feel odd not giving a home to an animal in need from a shelter, I would recommend connecting with the Burmese Rescue Group on their Facebook page:

We adopted a Burmese a few years ago through them that came from a horrible hoarding situation. He was sick and abused, and the Rescue Group volunteers spent literally over a year nursing him back to health. He's now the happiest, sweetest, most loving cat you've ever met, and we feel lucky to be his forever home. They're good people (as are, I think all people who to help animals - and people - in need). I can pretty much guarantee you that you could find a Burmese kitty that you'd adore right alongside Jason and the boys.


I do not know things about cat breeds because I always end up with whatever one(s) pick(s) me, but I have had a few cats in my time and have noted that every female cat I've ever had was very much a "cat", and every boy cat, very much a "dogcat". The good news is I love both kinds :) So in addition to the breed advice, I'd wager that a boy cat is more in line with the personality you're looking for.


I hope it is okay to offer suggestions re: cat matching. I really love the podcast by this woman:

She has a great episode about cat temperaments (she has her own classification system, but I have found it very helpful) that might help you feel more confident in choosing a future cat. There is some genetic predisposition (Siamese are an alpha type, Maine Coon beta, round-headed are gamma), but types run along a spectrum (I am pretty sure both of my Cats are beta, but one is way on the gamma border and the other is on the alpha, and boy is life miserable for the former).


We also have a cat who is definitely more dog than normal and I can't imagine anything else. Hang in there!


Orange tabbies have a reputation for gorgeous personalities. We are on our second as a household with kids, and both have been sweet purr machines.

Having looked for one recently, any Petfinder listing talking about a "sweet affectionate lovebug" etc that's a young orange tabby? That's gonna be a great cat.


I have so many people whose elderly pets have either just passed away, or it's any time now. I am so so sorry.

Like I said before, I am so glad Beau is helping you all through this.


Welp. I have gotten teary reading plenty of posts, but that was the first time it was for *Jason.* Hugs to you and him and all of you.


I get what you mean on the cat thing. We had three at once. Lost the first when my mom was dying of cancer, lost the second when I realized two weeks after losing my mom that holy shit the the cat is like nearly dead, how the hell did I not notice? The third we had to put down just short of 18. We have 4 kids, one who was a special needs 3 year old at the time, whose love can be rough. After 7 months of passively looking we found him. Or maybe her. Not sure. Just like our other cat loved the kids even though they sometimes suck cat I knew this was the one because he was all over us through the cage declaring his love. It's been almost a year and a half now and he and my now asshat 4 year old (who still needs to be reminded not to love a little too hard) are best buds. Seriously, we totally don't get why the cat loves him most. You'll know when the time and cat is right. There are totally awesome cats out there, I swear.


@Heidi - Animals are incredibly intuitive. Your cat probably senses that your 4 year old needs him the most.


Yes on the cat thing! I lost mine this year after 22 years, and he was a dog except for the litter box thing. I will probably never get another one, because dammit I don't want a cat!


PLEASE be cautious in getting a new cat. I know you probably know this already, but a brand new rescue animal needs a lot of time to settle in and become confident in their home before you can introduce a new animal.


OMG...PUH-LEEEEZE go get this cat! I want him so much but am at my apartment's pet limit. He's in Pottstown and sounds so awesome!


Our family has only ever had "dog-like" cats. You've already got the best tool to pick one from a shelter: bring Ike. Have him (calmly) walk up to each cat. The one that actually comes forward to him for pets is the one you take home.

We no longer bother looking at what cats they have online; the shelter turnover is high, and even if they have the cute kitty you saw online that was *supposed* to be sweet, it turns out the cat is very different once they see a child.

We've gotten three doglike cats this way. And the most doglike, is yes, likely a Burmese. Other two are thin grey shorthair and a huge orange tabby.

Eileen Ryan Ewen

I get taking some time on getting another cat, if you ever even go down that road. However, I'm going to echo what some others have said regarding breed. We were lucky and adopted a cat who was part Maine coon. He is AMAZING! We were childless at the time, and he's gone through three moves and the birth of four children, and he is so unbelievably wonderful it's insane. He waits for us by the door/window. He watched over our babies when they were infants. He paced with us as we walked the floors with colicky babies. He not only let them pull his tail and tackle him...he kept coming back for more. Every photo I have of my kids playing in our house, he's in it, because he can't stand to be apart from them. He goes from one child to another as we put them to bed, but he has his Main person--our third kid--who he tends to spend most of his nights with, wrapped around her head. When a kid is sick in the night and we go to them, we find the cat already there. One night when the temp dropped drastically and we hadn't put the heat on yet, I checked the kids to make sure they had their blankets on. My oldest had kicked his off, but the cat (Maine coons are big) was draped across his chest, covering him and keeping him warm. This cat has more than once been equated to a dog, and at fifteen years old, still has spunk in him and plays from time to time--as a kitten and young cat the neighborhood kids would come play with him he was so active. He even did back flips. I've had cats my whole life, and have only had one "asshole" cat--even the tabbies we had were loving and friendly, sleep-with-you and lap sitters and overall very fun and sweet. I think cats over all get a bad rap. One sweet tabby slept tucked under my arm every night (until it got run over by a car at two years old...). Anyway, I agree with exploring Maine coons, since they do seem to have a reputation for extreme friendliness and loyalty, though I think if you bring your kids to a shelter with other kittens, and find one that gravitates to them as opposed to shy away, you'll probably find another great family cat.


If y'all do look at other cats, I would recommend looking at Russian Blues. My fiance has had his for 10 years, and he is the sweetest, most passive cat I've ever been around. All he wants is to sleep in your lap and get petted on the head(and eat). Might be the breed with the demeanor you're looking for. And they're so so pretty, with thick gray fur.

(On the flipside, my adopted domestic shorthair cutie is a major asshole, ha.)


Oh man, I feel you on the cat. We had a family cat for 17 years and he was amazing. We believe he was (at least part) Maine Coon but he was a rescue so we don't know for sure. He was loving, attentive, would "chat" with us, walk us to the door, etc. I've never been able to get another cat (he's been gone 4 years) because I can't imagine another one could ever match up.

Beth Ann

I had to laugh at the bottom picture. My dog is the same, whenever I work at home, she wants on my lap. Bless the creatures.

Mr Bill

We love you. Gotta admit Ike's on the right track from his perspective having seen your loved ones go away so close to each other, it's so endearing and yet so: lol! Beth and I started following you when you first started the blog, old timer. You are in our minds and converstations and our prayers. Hi to all, take care. Bill and Beth


If/when you do decide to get a new cat, I'd recommend going to someone who fosters cats and ask the foster coordinator at your shelter for cats that are currently living in busy environments with active dogs. Or say eff it and get another little active dog (hopefully one that isn't a runner). I love my cat, but I swear to god, there will be no more cats after him because I don't want to deal with having another litter box in my house so help me.


Get a cat, get a cat, get a cat!!!!!!


I second "orange kitty" as contender. Ours is a bundle of happy fun, has only ever issued warning swats for incredible insult from kids, plays with the dog and of course sleeps a lot ( he is a cat) The idea of talking to a foster parent about temperament is good, as is your instinct to let little fuzzy pup adjust! (there is always time)

Another Stephanie

Another dog could be a good addition to your family, too. I know, CRAZY, right? But dogs generally really like being in the company of other dogs. Growing up, my family always had one dog, and only one dog. I got my first dog shortly after setting out on my own, fully intending to just be a one-dog home. Then we got a second dog when our pooch was about 11. She LOVED having another dog around. I wish we had done it years earlier. Full disclosure, we keep ending up with three dogs, which I only recommend for the truly insane, but tow is nice. They keep each other company when you're not home, and they learn by watching each other. If you're really worried about getting the wrong personality cat, consider another small dog. But definitely let Beau adjust and get settled in before you bring another animal into your family.

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