Friendships and “Furships”

Molly on MantelHow would we get through life without our friends—or the fur friends we love so much? This has been a sad and silent week in our home. We had to say goodbye to our sweet cat, Molly, last week. I never realized how much her meows—with different intonations for each communication—had become such a part of the soundtrack of our lives for the past 16 years until they were gone. The silence is deafening.

Her physical absence is agonizing, too. She’s not by the door asking to go out on the deck. She’s not getting me up to feed her, or sitting on my lap early in the morning as I have my quiet time. (I’ve actually had to set an alarm this week.) She’s not sidling up to my husband Jim for some extra pats in front of the fire, or jumping from his lap to mine and back again as the three of us settle in to watch TV in the evening. She’s simply not here. And we miss our fur friend.Molly and Pansies

This is when the human friendships we have mean more than ever, however! Those friends with pets, or who have been loved by pets in the past, truly know the pain of losing a fur friend who was part of the rhythm of daily life. The first day Molly was gone a neighbor stopped by with a card, a bottle of wine, and the time to just sit and talk about Molly for a bit. A true friend.

Messages from friends on Facebook were so kind: “My heart breaks for you.” “She was such a sweet kitty.” “I’m so very sorry for your loss.” Please know that I know losing a pet doesn’t compare to losing a sibling, a parent, or a spouse. But it is a loss nonetheless, and it’s so sweet when friends come alongside to acknowledge it. A friend from afar texted, “Many, many of my best friends have had fur, and many of my best memories are of them. I’m sorry you have lost your friend. You’ll have your memories forever.” So true.

Pet therapy from my friend Beth's collie, Maisie, and her fur friend Duchess.

Pet therapy from my friend Beth’s collie, Maisie, and her fur friend Duchess.

The long phone calls that included laughter, the notes and cards that came in the mail, the friend who invited me over for some sympathy licks from her dog, all of it helped this week. And all of it underscored the fact that we need one another.

It didn’t surprise me to read that a new book by science journalist Lydia Denworth, Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond, includes research proving that friendship is not only good for our emotional health but for our physical health as well. Bottom line: People with at least one good friend tend to live longer, happier lives. No surprise, but good to have the scientific confirmation.

So cherish your human friends and your fur friends—nurture your friendships and your “furships.” Give of yourself generously, and you will be so very blessed in return.


  1. Nancy, what a tender tribute to deeply-loved and deeply-missed Molly. Thank you for relating so well to those of us who have dared to love and create furships. You were one of the first friends who showed up at my doorstep last February when I unexpectedly lost my three-year-old dog. You gave of yourself generously that day to just sit and cry with me. I know many, many others are bringing you a similar comfort now. Thank you for sharing both your heart and your Molly with us.

  2. Jimmie Bohannon says:

    Now I know…so sorry!
    Love you,

  3. Peggy Lovelace Ellis says:

    Nancy, I can’t empathize–I’m allergic to both dogs and cats, so I’ve never had a fur-friend. Nevertheless, I can sympathize with your loneliness without Molly. Years ago, I read a definition of loneliness that doesn’t appear in any dictionary, but I believe it is the best one. Loneliness isn’t simply being alone. It’s being without a particular person. That should apply to fur-friends also.

  4. Nancy-
    Grief is just love with no place to go.
    Those of us who have loved and lost pets understand the grieving you are experiencing about Molly. How blessed we are to have lovely pets in our lives!

  5. Cindy Penchoff says:

    What a sweet tribute to a pet that provided so much company and companionship! Love you my sweet friend!

  6. Cheryl Freeman says:

    As the years have passed I recall your 2 goldens coming to my front door during a rainstorm when we lived on Briarcrest. They charged out of the stormy conditions to track a bit of mud and lots of water and dog hair with some well establisher ruffles of fur. You got home and rescued them from our house. Fun memories.

    We have Bobber our 13 yr old golden retriever who is doing pretty well. We know he is not going to be a resident at our house forever but we are savoring every moment we have with him. Yes, he does have different sounds for different needs. He loves to see himself in reflections of mirrors, oven doors or a windowed door. I guess he is checking out the changes in his fur colors that we all go through. He’s a bit more demanding than in his earlier years but loved very much every day. You send our sympathies in the loss of your cat. A new furry friend can always find a good home at your house, something to consider.

    • They WERE escape artists, Cheryl. Thanks again for taking them in–mud and all. Pets can be messy, but they are worth it!!

  7. Jan Keller says:

    The cycle of life is real … and dealing with it can truly cause pain. Allow yourself to feel that pain along with the joy of your memories. Through your grief and your writing, you have eased the pain I, and so many others, have felt over the years in similar circumstances. Thank you for sharing your heart! Hugs, prayers … and I promise to keep both headed your way!

  8. Maria McConnell says:

    Oh, Nancy, my heart breaks for you. I know how much you have loved the kitties you have had over the years. I was so sorry to hear about Molly. I have never seen someone care so deeply and sincerely for a pet as you cared for yours. I love that you used to leave the radio on for her when you were gone and just intuitively knew that she liked that. Molly was a lucky cat to have you for a curator. She couldn’t have had a better owner. Please let us know if you need anything.

    • Thanks, Maria! And thanks for tolerating our cats for the last almost 30 years even though you are allergic! You were a trooper. Love you.

  9. alice scott-ferguson says:

    Heart to heart in the sweet sorrow, dear friend!
    How comforting to ever more fully comprehend that the essence called LIFE, can never perish.
    It lives on and cannot be destroyed, for that is the essence of its Creator.
    Though in what form, may be unclear,
    we will be reunited with fur and feathered friends!
    (No kitties in heaven? Perish the thought!!)

  10. Elizabeth H. Van Liere says:

    Scrolling through the many thoughts of your friends it’s plain to see so many others share your love of a pet or two. We have two dogs and they are getting ancient like me.Soon it’ll be time to say good bye to them. Can’t help but wonder, will they get to heaven before me? If so, I believe our pets will be there to welcome us because God gave them to us in the first place, one of His many blessings. We’ll leave the sad things behind and surely the happy things will tag along..

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