I’ve completed a memoir about (what else!) my life with cats. I’m passionately interested in the bond between humans and our animal companions. Here’s an excerpt from a short essay. If you’ve ever had an instance in your life where the realization of your lack of control slapped you in the face (haven’t we all!) — you’ll probably relate to this.

Surrendering Control

Today I learned just how much of a control freak I am. I borrowed my neighbor’s old truck to go get some donkey manure (for our garden) from a friend’s farm about 45 minutes away. I got to the farm and parked the truck on the driveway. When I went to start the truck again to back it down to the barn, it wouldn’t start.

So my neighbor said he’d come out and tow the truck home. It never occurred to me that I would have to sit in the dead truck and steer it all the way home. When that sank in, I started to get a little panicky.

If you’ve ever done this, it’s dicey and a little intense. A lot intense, actually. There’s a tow rope connecting the two trucks. The truck I’m “driving” is in neutral and the motor is off (obviously, since the truck is dead). It’s a real art to keep the dead truck the right distance from the towing truck. And it takes a lot of TRUST.

I had to lightly tap the brakes when I wanted to slam them. I had to make sure that rope never got too slack, or I might ram into the truck in front of me. Faster curves in the road were freaky; downhills were worse. I’ve never concentrated so hard in my life on two things — the visible yellow tow rope between the two trucks, and keeping my foot right over the brake, ready to “lightly tap” and fighting the urge to slam the brakes. Everything I could stress out about, I did — the narrow country roads with no shoulders, the fact that my truck wanted to sway out in the middle of the road for some reason, the light rain that made it harder to see the tow rope, cars coming in the opposite direction.

We had to work in synch, and I had to completely surrender control. I was amazed at how hard it was.

You know this feeling when your animal companion is ill or toward the end of life. There may be very little you can control. It feels like you want to freak out about anything, everything. But really, in some situations, all you can do is trust. Work in sync with your animal companion. Be ready for the turns in the road, the uphills, and the downhills. Trust and surrender control.