Microcosmographia by William Van Hecke


I am nearly thirty-one years old, and my experience with grief is as follows.

Both of my grandparents on my father’s side died while I was quite young. I had met them a few times, but for the most part I just felt sad because I knew my parents were sad.

When I was in college, my favorite author Douglas Adams died unexpectedly. It hit me quite hard and I still think about what the world would be like if he were still around, sharing his genius. A giant chunk of my psyche was molded by reading his books at a way younger age than I was “supposed” to.

Last year, Steve Jobs died. Fittingly, I learned via a last-minute message of farewell that my professor added to her slides in User-Centered Design class. Every day of my life has been affected by that guy, all the way back to my first creative and exploratory experiences with the Mac Plus at age 5. I suspect I will continue feeling sudden stabs of sadness from time to time, as I realize all over again that he is gone.

And today, Lotus the Omni office cat is gone. I was so thrilled when I came to Omni 8 years ago, to have a cat that I could spend time with. Because of the tastes of my family growing up, and my wife now, having a cat at home was never an option. The bond you make with a pet always seemed like something I just wouldn’t have in my life. But through the quirky Seattley fact of my workplace having its own cat, suddenly there was a cat in my life that I could legitimately get to know. I was so proud to recognize that her name came from the legendary Magic card (Omni and Wizards go way back; let me just say I have seen pre-Alpha photocopied playtesting cards!). I eagerly learned her history with the company and how to help take care of her extraordinarily queen-like demands. For several of the years we spent in the old University District house, she chose to spend much of her time on my lap. When we stayed late, we were treated to her famous, frenetic Kitty Weaselly Hour. As I played through video games in the basement, she kept me company and occasionally asked to be let outside for a moment. At the new building, I made a point of visiting her downstairs lair often, and she even occasionally ventured up and said hello to us on the second floor.

I could reminisce about Lotus for hours. The point is that she was the only cat in a life that I had been resigned to accept would contain zero cats. The happy part is that she had just about the best life imaginable for a cat, being treated like royalty by a growing family of animal-loving Omnifolk, for a preposterously long 19-year career.

I miss Lotus. It’s scary to think what will happen to me when someone dies who I am close to and who is human.