For Grimm

⊕ 2024-06-04

Today my heart changed shape
Today no one smacked my leg through my arm rest to ask to get on my desk
Today no one sat on behind my keyboard and tried to lay their head on my hands
Today I didn't have to pick tufts of fur off my chair
Today no one scratched at the balcony door frame asking for fresh air
Today there was no ambient purring or pronouncements of great achievements
Today no one watched me cook, peering from a stool
Today was different

You brought my world softness and love
Showed me that it wasn't all just darkness and gears
Taught me that I could care
Taught me how to care
Today my heart changed shape

One big cat

It's impossible to articulate how much one cat can change someone, and it would be like all the great writers trying to capture the feeling of love. I'm neither a good writer, nor a remotely okay poet, but I also know that the feelings I have for this beautiful, stoic cat had to be written down somewhere.

When I say that Grimm changed me, I don't mean it out of hyperbole or cliche.

I've always been a bit callous and unable to understand other people due to some early unrecognized neurodivergence and bullheadedness. I'd been a staunch individualist whose only goal was to attempt to be the best and "perfectly logical". Obviously, this is all delusion and a product of a culture that encourages such things in someone like me. I was always quick to think others were dumb, quick to harsh words, quick to lack charity, and often tone deaf (all things that I still can struggle with).

I had one stint of extremely bad burnout from a high-travel and high-stress penetration testing consulting role that had left me in poor mental health. Luckily, despite my many flaws, I've still had incredible people in my life who can see through them and give me the charity and grace I was unable to give others at the time. That's when Ashley came to visit for my birthday and, having been my roommate and seen my fondness for her wonderful little cat, decided I had to get a cat of my own.

That was Grimm.

The cat himself, Grimm

That's when I learned how such a simple little guy with basic motivations could contain such incredible complexities. Grimm really only needed a few things: food, scratches, sunbathing on the balcony, sleep, and to watch me cook.

Grimm watching me cook

His simple motivations were also expressed in such complex ways. I often think about how the initially morbidly overweight 7 1/2 year old cat seemed food obsessed and decided that I had not been waking up early enough for his crepuscular ass. Grimm decided that it was time to figure out how to wake me up. That's when I found out he was a bit more than the simple beast he seemed.

He started devising little daily attempts at waking me. The first few mornings were particularly "cat" of him. He started by meowing to attempt to wake me up. When that failed he moved on to sitting on top of me, which also failed. Then he decided that he needed to try and sit on me. The following week was filled with a combination of all of the above at varying intensities. Then headbutts… Then licks… All pretty normal.

That's when the second week started. He had discovered that noises were what made me put a pillow over my head and that was a reaction. So he moved entirely away from his other attempts and I swear devised a plot to try and find the correct noise. He'd change the pitch of his meows, scratch on scratching toys (which he had literally never touched before), jump up and down on the side table near my head, stick his head under the pillow to meow at my covered head, smack around a jingle toy in the room (also never touched before)... Then he found it.

Early Grimm sidetable staring

More than a few weeks into our pitched battle he discovered that he could get quietly up on the bed before I had first been stirred, and using only a single claw on one paw sloooowly pick a single thread out of my backboard or pillow near my ear, pull the thread, and click.



It drove me instantly insane and he had won the war. One little click over and over and he got his little food.

That's when I learned that his simple motivations and needs could be expressed in an incredibly complex way. I started cooking a lot to teach myself a skill that wasn't on the keyboard and he would be very curious and would just sit on a stool and watch me cook. He would be curious about what I was doing and if I let him sniff my ingredients he would continue to sit there and watch. Except fish or chicken, how on brand.

I taught him tricks with clicker training. High-fiving for for treats was his favorite:

This was around the time I started to have a realization that it wasn't the world around me that was completely void of logic and reason, and that the reason I was bitter was myself. Obviously, this isn't entirely the doing of a cat, but he truly helped me realize that I lacked the empathy and social skills to get out of a personal rut, and it was because of sheer lack of trying to understand others. I was able to understand this little guy with his simple complexity, why couldn't I understand other people the same way?

It took a long time to recognize that everyone is fully complex. Just like Grimm. It took (and takes) lots of work to identify and foster the skills to be empathetic when it's not something you are good at.

Grimm helped change me in that way and many others. He ended up teaching me so much about how to reach out to others for support when I needed to in our fractured world. He helped me break the chains of selfish singular focus. He helped me be able to identify what love is. He helped me learn that I could grow and be imperfect. He taught me what it meant to care for someone when they got older and needed help daily. He showed me near unconditional love. Even today, on his last day he taught me why people feel so much pain at lost family members and the importance of making sure they go as wholly as they can.

Grimm staring into the sunset

Many parts of myself, as someone who feels truly happy, loved in many aspects, and at peace with loving the complex simplicity of life are partially because of Grimm. From those first few days, he showed me that I needed to have more empathy and better myself.

Now I don't try to be the best, I try to be simple and better myself as a person. Be someone who could be what a fraction that Grimm was to me.

This little cat became my best friend instantly in the Boulder Humane Society. And he irrevocably changed me to be a happier person. I'll never be able to express my gratitude to him and appreciation to him in the way that I wish I could, and this is my attempt.

I love you with all my heart little man and I'll remember you every day that I can.


Grimm had a particular way of getting people to love him through his nonchalant appearance and grumpy, listless look - it's part of where he got his name. In reality, he loved everyone and was just happy all the time. Every person was investigated, headbutted for approval, and then Grimm would return to the nearest spot to see all parties.

He was so universally loved for his specific brand of calm glaring that inspired multiple artworks by multiple people:

Grimm art

If you are involved in any of the Slack work servers I've touched over the years, you have seen the many Slack emoji made by friends: Grimm slack emojiGromp slack emojiGrimm peek slack emoji

He traveled across the United States with me via car or plane at least twice. From California:

Grimm in California

To Austin Texas:

Grimm in Austin

To New York City:

Grimm in NYC

Back to Austin Texas:

Grimm in Austin again Grimm in Austin again but outside

Finally, back to Colorado in a fitting return to home:

Grimm in Colorado again

He was a cat that just did not mind a new place and loved to go outside (don't worry he never even got close to catching a fly) to sniff around and sunbathe.

Many of the early pictures of Grimm are from a very cheap phone because before him I never felt the urge to take pictures of anything. I especially never took pictures with myself or others. Now, going through these memories this shitty phone camera picture was the first evidence of Grimm:

First Grimm sighting

Over time I learned that I actually liked taking pictures of him and sharing them with my friends who loved him. Many of my friends and roommates started picking up nicknames for him. Many of which I still use now: Gromp, Grimmbus, Grombus, Gorm, Grump, etc. He and I got some pretty good goofy photos that spurred all the nicknames:

Grimm being upside down Grimm peeking through a laundry basket Grimm making a ridiculous face Grimm yawning Grimm sitting ridiculously

In the end, I liked taking pictures of him and documenting his antics. I also even learned to take a shitty picture of myself with him. Here is my last picture with him on his last day getting some time in the grass, and probably one of the only pictures of myself on the internet, because he really has changed me:

Grimm & I

In memory of Grimm the cat. Goodbye friend.