Preemptive Grief

Silly sadness, anxiety, or a means of living and loving more fully?

Michele Koh Morollo
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readMar 22, 2022


Sayang at five months old. Picture courtesy of the author.

I have a 10-month-old kitten who I named Sayang — this means “love,” “sweetheart,” or “darling” in the Malay language. I adopted her from a shelter when she was four months old. I have more than 200 photos and videos of her on my iPhone and my husband tells me I should delete them, or my phone will crash. I won’t.

I love my cat so much it hurts

Every couple of weeks, I lie in bed and look at the visual records of my time with her — from photos taken on the very first day we brought her home when she was hiding under my desk, she’s a shy one, to the ones taken last week of her almost spilling out of a shoebox where she’d taken a nap. She’s grown so much. Sometimes I cry when I look at those photos.

Sayang is alive and well, she is perfect and so affectionate, and my body floods with oxytocin when she snuggles up with me and purrs away. I feel so lucky to have met her. When I’m doing one of my teary photo trawls, she is often sitting on my lap, looking up at me with puzzlement as I bawl my eyes out looking at images of her from the past.

I thought to myself: “Michele, you are such a sad fuck, and a weirdo! You’re crying over a relatively…