Goodbye, Dolly.

Tomorrow will be brighter than the good old days

“I need you badly now and I feel safer when I know you’re nearby. So stay close to me for a while.”

When Katie Nolan says those words to her daughter Francie towards the end of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, it is weighty with significance. Katie is heavily pregnant and speaks to Francie as a fellow woman and someone she depends upon, a shift in the dynamic between the pair.


Riley was different in his final days, as though proximity to death allowed him to be the cat he always intended to be. He was happy, but tentative. He would follow me from room to room and, if given the opportunity, anxious to lay on my chest.

“I need you badly now and I feel safer when I know you’re nearby. So stay close to me for a while.”


I did. At least, as much as I could. It was because I was close that I was afraid he was slipping too quickly. A few days of recovery, then losing ground, even faster than before.

He wasn’t unhappy at the end. The night before, the night I wasn’t entirely sure he’d make it through, he laid quietly next to me, burying his head in my elbow, drooling, purring. Then he left, to sit vigil at his water dish(es), dying of thirst and too nauseous to drink.

I took him in to the vet because I knew that the mobility, the purrs, the love, they were here now, but they were leaching away quickly. I took him in because I knew what they’d tell me. I took him in because it was better to let him go than force him to lose every good thing left in his life.

“I need you badly now and I feel safer when I know you’re nearby. So stay close to me for a while.”


It’s over now. I hope he felt safer for a while.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.