It’s a bright, crisp, late-winter morning in Maine. The snowstorm from the day before left the trees and yard glistening. My oldest son, Michael, just returned home with a friend with plans to take a snowmobile ride.

“There’s a dead cat on the road,” Michael tells his dad. “It looks like Cloud.”

Cloud is our family cat of five years. John immediately leaves to examine the cat. He returns shortly.

“You need to go with me and take a look,” he says to me. “It looks like Cloud. I think it’s her, but I’m not sure.”

Reluctantly, I follow him to the car and we head up the driveway. Not more than a quarter of a mile away I see the cat lying on top of a snowbank. It looks like someone may have placed her there. Her mouth is frozen open, her teeth exposed in a silent growl. No blood.

“I’m not sure that’s Cloud,” John says hopefully.


“I know. She looks different,” I reply. “Was her fur that color of gray?”

“It’s just dirty,” John says, and he rolls Cloud onto a blanket and places her in the trunk.

Coming back, we meet Michael in the driveway. “It’s Cloud,” John confirms.

“Thought so,” Michael replies.

“I think we should all be with Chris when we tell him,” said John.

The three of us head up the stairs to Michael’s younger brother’s room. John knocks on the door. “Chris?”



“We need to talk to you.”


We open the door and the three of us walk in. It’s obvious to him that something is wrong, and there’s no easy way to deliver the news.

“Cloud was hit by a car this morning and she’s dead.”

The three of us wait for Chris’ reaction, which, of course, is tears.


“We should take her to the vet’s to have her cremated,” John says to me.

He makes a call to the veterinary hospital to make sure they’re open and will accept our cat. I’ll go with him to the vet’s; Michael will stay with Chris.

Our conversation in the car revolves around Cloud. What a brat she was as a kitten.

What a great pal she became for the guys. How easy she was to care for. How she usually stayed in the yard. Why did she go in the road? Who hit her?

We arrive at the veterinary hospital and are told that all cremations are done on Thursdays and cost $30. For an additional $30 they can cremate Cloud separately so that we can have her ashes.

John and I have brief, private discussion about the ashes. Perhaps having Cloud’s ashes would ease the pain of her loss, especially for Chris. But should we really spend an additional $30 for her ashes when we’re already spending $30 for the cremation? We said we’d let them know before Thursday if we wanted her ashes.


We head home, silently, both of us feeling very sad for Cloud, and for Chris.

We turn into our road and avoid looking at the spot where we found Cloud. It had only been a couple of hours since Cloud was found in the snowbank. We somberly walk into the
house and Chris calls to us.

“Cloud’s home.”

I don’t know whose cat we cremated, but it wasn’t ours.

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