The first thing I did after my Florida flight landed in the Midwest was take off my shoes and dig my toes into the Iowa dirt. There’s something about connecting with nature that living creatures crave. Humans are often distracted by shiny toys and comforts, but animals don’t need so much time to figure out what it means to be alive, so they don’t have to stay on this earth as long.

Animals know. They understand connection and love far purer (and arguably deeper) than homo sapiens, and they don’t even need Hollywood or rom-coms to figure it out. (Although whose pup doesn’t like to sit on the couch during a good Kate Hudson flick.)

Human Stevens liked to take walks and go to the park. He would lead Sister through the neighborhood on or off leash and neighbors would call her the Cat Walker Lady (in English and Spanish, depending on their hometown at the time.) He had so many good kitty habits and was an Expert Cuddler. Human took care of and taught his brother, Sparky, despite thinking he was a real PITA at first. Human was more wholly human than most humans. To be loved by Human was special; it was being loved by an intelligent mouser who permitted excessive snuggles and pets.

But Human was this way because of Sister. It was not so much the act of training (although she did take great care to train Human Stevens to “behave.”). When you are loved deeply and listened to sincerely then even as a cat you make life adjustments to bring joy to your loved one. Sister did things for Human because she loved him and, in return, he did things because he loved her back. Human made everyone around him feel more human, and it’s because Sister makes everyone around her feel more human — more valued, listened to, supported. Human and humans are blessed to be granted time with Sister because it is that type of care that changes worlds. That type of love and insight is indescribable because it’s not what is said or done, it is the feeling Sister gives rise to through genuine connection.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelous

But animals do not get to stay here as long as us, so Human passed long before the humans who love him will be gone. He had a brave battle with cancer, but Sister had a braver battle. She tasked herself with truly listening to Human’s needs –gathering his favorite scents, identifying the best nourishment, keeping with a demanding schedule and always, always adjusting based on his evolving needs. To be loved by Sister is a true privilege and one that Human knew. She brought to his days (good and bad) the kind of attention that most people only dream of receiving. And she brought this level of listening and care because that is who she is and that is the person that some of us are lucky to be graced with during our lives.

Maybe Sister doesn’t know, but she has brought hundreds of people similar feelings even if they do not know what she said or did exactly. Her time with Human was a succinct example of how Sister loves — purely, deeply, wholly. To be with her is to know unique levels of care and joy and even quirkiness. (Ok, especially quirkiness.) I think of our conversations these last few months and how I felt overwhelming awe at her ability to read the needs of an animal who could not vocalize them. Such insight comes only from the soul of someone whose very essence is to make the world around her better. Human was so lucky to have such a wonderful human. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful human.

I wish I had the words to ease Sister’s pain and keep forever pristine the precious moments that my human had with her Human. But this is what I can give, and I just have to hope it helps a little.

Sister, I love you. I am in awe of your brilliance, your intuition and care… your spirit and love. You make me feel truly human and spark feelings of hope to those who have you from moments to years. I can imagine no better example of how life should be as a human.

So, forever light and love to the dearest Human Stevens.

But most importantly, forever strength and joy and the deepest love that a human can give to his (and my) dearest human.