I said it last time, but it still applies: It’s my grief, and I’ll wallow if I want to
Actually, I think I’m done wallowing, but I’m not done grieving.
To recap: on April 22nd 1996, just before our first anniversary, we brought home a pair of skittish, abandoned, semi-feral adolescent (about a year old) cats.
After his sister died in May, we tried to make sure Leo got as much attention as he could stand, not so he wouldn’t miss her, but so he’d know we did and that we needed him.
During the heat wave in June, he started to slow down. It was hot. He was old. We made sure he always had someplace cool to go, a fan to lay in front of, an ice cube in his water bowl. We installed central air. No, not specifically for him, but I definitely thought it would help.
Only it didn’t, and he almost stopped eating, and he started losing weight.
We took him to the vet, did some tests and an x-ray. His liver had blown up to be more than twice its normal size, putting pressure on his stomach so that he didn’t think he was hungry. He got worse fast and we tried a lot, but I knew after the first vet visit (there were three in a very short period) that there wasn’t a lot of hope. There was a growth, big and solid, and the word tumour was used out loud.
On the 31st of July, about 11:20 pm, he carefully got down from the couch where he’d been cuddling with my oldest daughter, and collapsed on the floor. He didn’t get up again and I held him as he died.
I’d just lost another member of my family.
I wasn’t ready to let him go, either. I’d never have been ready, but not even three months after his sister died seemed cruel to everyone. Yes, he was more than seventeen years old, which is pretty old for a house cat and really old for one who began life as a stray. So what? I wanted Guinness Book of Records lifespans for them.
The reminders are tougher this time, which I didn’t expect and should have. There’s uneaten cat food and an unused box of litter. I’ve emptied the box and put down water and scratched his chin for the last time. I keep going to the kitchen door expecting to let him in or out. He’s never there.
The day before yesterday, I let myself be led into a pet store and there was a big, short haired cat there with exactly his colouring. I had to walk away.
Yes, I got to say goodbye, but I didn’t want to. How could I? The circle of life sucks, but I can’t do more than rail against it. I can’t have what I want, which is both of my cats back.
Again, life goes on for those who remain behind. We adapt, and we survive, at least until we don’t. There are now two cat-shaped holes in my life. I freely admit I cried and I freely admit I miss him. I wish I didn’t have to.