It is Spring’s threshold.  Green stalks and bright buds peek out from piles of leftover autumn leaves, golden-copper, crisped, sometimes translucent from winter’s wear.

I witnessed another threshold last week.

I should already have been at work, dozens of miles away.

An errand took me to a well-traveled road.  My gray Honda (Slate: surely I’m not the only one who names vehicles?), was third in line when a beautiful gray cat dashed in front of the first car.

I held my breath.

Then the cat ricocheted off the car’s front fender.  I cried out a long “No!”  and pulled to the side of the road, as did the driver of the car between us.  He had the composure to call  the local police.

The cat was still alive, jerking its limbs, trying to rise from the asphalt.  I knelt down with bare knees on the cold cement and a put my hand on her side.  She shook violently at first.  She expelled some blood from her mouth and I noticed I was kneeling in an oddly square pool of bright blood that had already soaked into the road.

Other cars whooshed around us, leaving a wide berth.

As I stroked her she stopped shaking and seemed to calm.  She settled on her side and held out her front paws, crossing one over the other and stretching out as if preparing to nap in the sun, though there was none on that frigid, windy morning.

She had been well-cared for and likely was someone’s pet.

She died after a few minutes, and when the animal control officer arrived he found weeping humans who had no idea whose animal this was.  I didn’t want to stop stroking her fur and talking to her.  The officer spoke to us kindly, lifted her body gently, and told us he would check for a microchip and try to find the owner.

To the owner of that cat: please know that when she died, she was calm.  Strangers took care of her and will not forget her.

When I got back in my car I realized I was holding my right hand palm up towards the gray sky.  My fingers were covered in a patina of red-orange blood, streaked more heavily across the fingertips.

As I was driving away I noticed another car pulled over to the side of the road ahead of me.  An older woman was bent over the steering wheel, sobbing.

I wish I’d stopped to comfort her.


Author: Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She attended law school near the the banks of the Charles River and loves that dirty water; she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter and @schnitzelpond on Instagram. Bonus points for anyone who understands the Instagram handle. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2023 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with the wee Wordpress buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.

5 thoughts on “Threshold”

  1. I hate the thought of any animal dying in fear and pain. This cat was at peace when it went to That Place where all Cats go ‘after’. For any owner who has lost a pet, look up Rainbow Bridge (author unknown) .
    Stephanie, thank you for caring.

  2. I’m sorry. This is heartbreaking and beautiful. Perhaps she would have wanted the comfort – but there is something about crying alone in one’s car – haven’t you done it? Some of the best-worst weeping sessions I’ve ever had – releasing the most terrible grief. So don’t feel that regret – I’d wager she had what she needed to feel. I’m sorry no one was there to comfort you.

  3. Heart wrenching, I am so sad. My cat, Vinny, was hit by a car years ago. He didn’t die,
    he had to have his jaw wired and other expensive things done, which of course, I did because
    I loved him. I remember the trembling, he was so close to death, and the blood. I remember just wanting to comfort him as you did, and calm him. I was able to do that on the way to the animal
    emergency hospital. I fed him every 3 hours for about 3 weeks with an eye dropper because he could not open his mouth or chew. It was a disgusting ritual that both of us disliked but knew
    it was a necessary one. He also began to smell like old milk and stuff because he couldn’t clean
    himself either. As most of us know cats clean themselves thoroughly several times a day. Anyway, your story reminded me of Vinny and all the pets I have lost in my 61 years. Thanks for that and your tender loving care for all creatures, including me. xo

  4. A sad but beautiful story. Like above written – it makes me think of all the pets I have lost during my time on earth. I truly loved them all and cared for them until the end. Many cats were lost to traffic and I only found some of them. I still remember every cat and dog and other pets with tender warmth. How good of you to make this cat’s last moments as good as possible.

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