One Year Without My Little Man

Many of you followed mine and Little Frankie's adventures from as far back as when he would loaf in sunshine patches in the yard to the moment he officially moved in and became our aloof, independent roommate, right up to when he began his day job as my furry pandemic co-worker who would spend days watching Chris wipe down the groceries and evenings on my belly. A year ago this weekend we needed to assist him on his journey over the rainbow bridge.

Most of you also know I am one to dwell on those who’ve gone before us, those I’ve personally lost and who’ve left a profound emptiness in my huge but fractured heart. I can’t help how I am. I am moved by these losses and though it’s perceived as dwelling, it’s honestly my way of coping and therefore celebrating them. I have lost parents, siblings, friends, and even pets. But I hadn’t felt this feeling since 1981 when I bid a bitter, final farewell to my constant companion Cheri Amour, she who was with me from when I was just a small, small boy and eventually meandered along the wood paneled walls of our Poconos house as I walked, terrified, through the hallways of high school in a strange land.

I used to post minute-long videos entitles "Mornings with Little Frankie" on Facebook, featuring Little Frankie chilling outside and me slowly walking out with coffee to go sit with him and start my Saturday morning. I’d annoyingly disrupt his slumber by singing this song to him: “Our mouse is a very very very fine mouse. A cute cat in the yard, life used to be so hard, now everything is easy ‘cause of me, and ah, la la la la la la la….” He would maybe look at me and roll over, perhaps to say please go away, hooman.  Or perhaps it was to say, “please keep singing to me, silly human who loves me so…”

Well, up until earlier in October 2020, Our House, was always just a pleasant background song you’d hear on Lite-FM or overhead at Lowe’s. And it still always will be; for me, however, it’s now become my anthem for missing my beautiful little guy.

When Chris and I took Little Frankie in to the vet’s office that Saturday night a year ago, I remember Chris trying to console me with all the wonderful things we gave him in his life, and all the happiness he returned in his cool little weirdo ways. Chris asked, comically, if I were going to find a song to wear out that would remind me of Therm (his Jelicle name); behind sniffles of non-stop sobbing, I laughed and said I didn’t have any songs that reminded me of him. And then, a few days later, we heard Our House by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Chris sang it to me flippantly, the way I’d sung it to Little Frankie, who I sometimes referred to as my ‘mouse’, as he lay splayed in the sun patches on the back deck. That was it: the floodgates splashed opened.

I have the ability to think more clearly about him, now that it's a year gone. I know that we provided him a wonderful life filled with food, comfort and love: all the things any pet who was once a backyard scaredy-cat could want. And in return he allowed me to feel protective and useful and needed. So many moments with him that I will carry with me until I die, like when he would eat white meat turkey after Thanksgiving straight from Chris's hand or that first few times he climbed up onto my belly to chill. He brought me so much and I will always be thankful for having the experience.