Ever since I’d lost my cat Joe I feared getting attached and going through that loss again. I bottled so much of that up as well because my mind and others would tell me that it was “silly” to be so upset at the loss of an animal, but we’d always felt that our pets were part of the family just like anyone else. I was convinced that only a small number of things in life deserved those feelings of grief, which only made things harder. I found myself wanting more pets, but I would talk myself out of it because I didn’t want to feel as though I was filling a void and forgetting and I feared losing another life.
I finally found myself opening up recently about the grief in my life whether regarding my animals, my miscarriages, the death of my grandma, among other things, which resulted in us adopting our adorable kitten Calvin. Even the day of the adoption I found myself battling reluctance, but I did not want to have another “what if” moment due to fear.
On August 15th I received a panicked call from my mom telling me that our cat of 19 years could no longer use his hind legs and I rushed to her immediately. I watched as he attempted to crawl away in agony, and just wanted the pain to stop. He wasn’t himself at all. The kisses I’d gotten all those years, the purrs, the snuggles, they were gone. He just wanted the pain to stop, and in that moment I slowly felt my mind trying to creep in again with those thoughts that only take away from the situation. I followed my mom to the vet, and we sat with much anxiety waiting to hear what was going to happen next. We were told we could go back in the room to speak with the doctor, and I felt the tears beginning to fall and that knot of grief in the pit of my stomach. We’d hoped there was something that they could do. The Dr came in and let us know that Toby had a blood clot in his lower abdominal area, which is common in cats, it had dropped down causing his lower half to be paralyzed. There was no longer a pulse in his legs, and they’d turned cold. His breathing had increased and he continued to whine in agony. He asked if we’d want them to do supportive care, or if we would like to put him down. The selfishness attempted to creep in as well, but my mom quickly stated she did not want him to live in pain any longer so we would like to do what is right for him. He said his condolences, and let us know that they’d give us as much time as we needed to say our goodbyes and they would take good care of him up until his last breath.
The tech brought our Fat man back in the room and we kissed and pet him as much as possible. We knew eventually we had to leave his side and let him rest peacefully, but it was so hard to walk away from him and tell the Dr we were ready. He stared into our eyes and meowed for the last few times, and I finally went and told them we were ready. The tech came in once again, gave her condolences and told us we were lucky to have such a sweet boy all these years, and assured he would be as comfortable as possible. As she scooped him up and pet his little head, he looked up at her and nestled her chin as if he were saying thank you.
Although Toby was a cat, he was part of our family. He was part of our puzzle that fit together so perfectly, which is why it is so hard to say goodbye. It feels as though that piece is missing and we can never repair. Person, or animal, everyone has their place in a family, and although some of the pieces are broken, that doesn’t mean we need to replace them, or be afraid to add again.
So adopting Calvin does not mean that it is going to mend the pain from the loss of Joe and now Toby, it just means that we are expanding our puzzle to create a larger picture, and we will never forget the pieces that have gone. Each piece had it’s importance, and it is okay to reminisce and grieve, but it is also ok to love again.
I’ve realized that this is a pattern with me in regards to grief. Fear of what could be gets the best of me, because of a previous occurrence. A loss of life is a loss of life no matter how big or how small and in dealing with the grief you’re allowing your heart to open up and love with everything again. Not avoiding, not masking, just allowing yourself to feel any and all emotions without any criticism as the mind is always trying to find an outlet for ignorance. The excitement of a new life should not be hindered by the loss of another. Just as I’d loved a little life inside of me at one point, and as quickly as it came it left. Not once, but twice. It was devastating, and I created any and all excuses not to feel and allowed other’s as well as my own mind to shift my true feelings. But because I reminded myself what I truly wanted, we now have a little 2 year old girl that we couldn’t imagine life without. And in dealing with the grief, now I have opened my heart up much more and continue to open new chapters that I once feared.
I will miss everyone I have lost person or animal, and own the feelings of grief without any judgments. And I will appreciate the new lives that have been given to me such as my little Calvin and my princess Ali. They are not replacements, they are a new piece to our continuous puzzle in the beautiful picture that is life, and I will never forget the pieces that we lost as they held us together while they were here and will watch over us now that they have gone. I love you all, and thank you for being apart of my picture.