New Member of the White House (Love Lessons snippet, Walter the cat memorial)
It's with regret I report that this morning our cat Walter passed away in Dan's arms as we took him (in a blizzard) to the hospital to have him euthanized. We think the steroid we gave him to try to give him a last rally exacerbated his stomach tumor and caused bleeding. He became incredibly weak, cried a great deal, and after vomiting some blood, he calmed, snuggled into my husband's chest, and quietly slipped away. 

I'll be writing a proper eulogy for him later tonight or tomorrow, but I'm waiting to get some photos from Dan, and for my heart to heal a little. He is our oldest-lived cat ever, our sweetest and wackiest dispositioned cat, and the cat who was only six months older than our daughter. He has been a huge part of our lives and leaves a hole in our heart like nothing else. The three of us have spent this whole week desperate and sad, and the last few days, especially the last 24 hours as we realized what was imminent, weeping uncontrollably. Dan tried to go back to work but is barely functional. This was his baby above all.

I'm now about 6k behind target goal on my word count, because my whole week has been trying to care for Walter, attempting to get him back to some kind of health, but it was not to be. Now it's time for mourning only, and moving on.

The most unusual thing about Walter, though, was that he had a character named for him. People heard all the time about our cat Walter and assumed he was named for Walter Lucas, and I always patiently explained it was the other way around. They're not unlike each other in temperament, and I'm sure Walter (the cat) would say good looks.

Walter is immortalized in many hearts and even in a viral video, and having a character inspiration is something, but I can't bear to let him go, so I'm immortalizing him one last time. He will be moved canonically into the Love Lessons series starting with Rebel Heart. Here's a snippet I wrote today, and this will go in the novel.

I really don't have words to tell you how heartbroken we all are. I'm not sure when I'll be able to write next. I need to write soon, but it's really difficult. This felt good to write, though. 

Live forever, Walty. Live forever.


Mina was sitting at the table, manning the laptop while Walter sat beside her, frowning at a tablet as he furiously took notes, when the back door opened and Elijah and Rose burst in. Rose was cradling something tight against her chest, and when Elijah stepped back to shut the door for her, Mina thought she saw a pair of black ears.

“Guys.” Elijah stood beside Rose, wild-eyed. “Look at this little guy that we found over by the car dealership, wandering around all by himself.”

Rose lifted the bundle in her arms—Elijah’s jacket—and a black and white kitten peered out, regarding Mina and Walter with large dark eyes. Rose looked as if she’d been crying. “He’s so dirty, and he was starving. We stopped to get him some food, but he ended up eating half of Elijah’s Subway sandwich.”

“He really likes ham.” Elijah reached over the edge of the jacket-blanket to scratch the kitten’s head tenderly. “He peed on me when I picked him up. We bonded immediately.”

Mina rose and went closer to Rose, trying to get a better look at the kitten. As she did so, the cat got a better look at her as well. His eyes really were huge, and dark, and they seemed to stare right into her soul, as if he were trying to decide if she were worthy or not. 

When she leaned too close, he reached out and playfully batted at her face, not clawing. It was as if he was reaching out to her, trying to get her to come closer so he could get a better look at her. Without realizing what she was doing, she complied. He put a paw on her nose and studied her intently.

“He’s a real character.” She looked up at Elijah and Rose, careful not to move the cat’s paw. “You’re sure it’s a male?”

Rose nodded, stroking behind the kitten’s ears, which made him close his eyes in ecstasy. “Yes. Definitely a penis.”

Elijah kept beaming at the kitten like a besotted mother hen. “We found it at Buckwalter Motors, so we’re going to name him Walter.”

“Hey.” Walter made this noise of protest from the table. “Excuse me, but that name is taken.”

Elijah glared at him. “What, you think we should call him Buck? I don’t think so. He’s clearly a Walter.”

“I’m a Walter.”

“So? We’ll have two Walters. Walter the Davidson, and Walter the fabulous cat. He’s going to be a legend. I can feel it.”

“Look, I get Walter’s a great name, but we can find another for the kitten.”

“We could, but we’re not.” Elijah made goofy faces at the cat, who began to bat at Elijah’s face instead. “What’s the matter, too proud to share your name with a cat?”

“No, but it’s weird.” Walter got up from the table and came over to where the rest of them were standing. He regarded the cat, and the cat regarded him. Walter huffed, smiling reluctantly. “He looks like a little holstein cow.”

“I know, right?” Rose grinned. “I want to find a collar with cows on it for him.”

“Maybe a cow-shaped nametag.” Elijah looked meaningfully at Walter.  “A name tag that will read Walter.”

Walter looked down at the kitten. Mina thought he might be starting to surrender. “He does look like a Walter somehow. I just…it’s weird, sharing a name with a cat. Is Baz even going to let you keep it?”

“Of course he’s going to let me keep it. As for sharing a name with a cat—why is it weird? You have the same name, big deal.”

“People will think you named him after me, is all I’m saying.”

“But we didn’t.” Elijah gave Walter an evil grin. “Who’s to say it’s not the other way around? Maybe you’re named after a cat.”

Walter blinked and drew back. “What? I’m named after my great-grandfather.”

“How do you know, Walter? Maybe that’s just the story they told you. Maybe, secretly, your mother loved a proud cat named Walter, and when the nurses said, ‘What’s the baby’s name?’ she thought of the cat and said, ‘Walter,’ but didn’t want you to know that so she told you it was for your great-grandfather?”

“That’s insane.” But Walter looked at Walter the cat with a troubled expression.

Mina couldn’t help a smile, and she leaned down to the kitten again to hide it. “Welcome to the family, Walter.”

Walter the cat licked his lips, blinked, and batted her on the nose.