A year ago yesterday was the day our cat passed over to the other side. The death of a pet is one of those under-acknowledged life events that is easy for an outsider to dismiss: he was just a cat, get over it. But, of course, anybody who has had a pet, and more pointedly, anybody who has lost a pet, knows that they aren’t just anything. The fact that these creatures aren’t human family members doesn’t take away from the fact that they have shared one’s home and food and joys and fears and been companions through years of one’s life.

‘Pet’ is one of those terms that doesn’t quite do justice to the relationship. A friend of mine argues that we should repurpose the word ‘kith’, as in ‘kith and kin’ to refer to these kinds of elected family members. So I can’t take credit for repurposing the term, but I definitely agree: but I plan to unashamedly steal the concept. Pets are kith to me. The elderly neighbors who gradually became surrogate grandparents are kith to me. Mentors are kith to me. The close collaborators that I work with are kith to me.

In this day and age of social media and the quantification of friendship, I think we are beginning to recognize the need for this kind of extension family. It’s easy to call someone a friend, and to surround ones self with hundreds of such connections, but everybody knows that there are friends and then there are Friends that can really only be discerned based on quality instead of numbers.

At any rate, I’ve been away from Facebook for about five weeks now, so that’s given me plenty of time to think about the friends of both kinds in my life.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on March 27, 2018.

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