Furry Grief

I’ve been quiet for a couple of days and probably that will last for a couple more.  No blog, Facebook, Twitter, or even e-mail.  I’ve had to go to work, but I haven’t been all that interactive with my coworkers.  My head isn’t in the game.  I’m not really sure I feel like being social today.

It’s my grief, and I’ll wallow if I want to

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. 

Leo and Xena come home

Our anniversary present.  If they mark it as anything other than the first anniversary, other people may have the ordinary Paper Anniversary.  We had the Cat Anniversary.  It seemed right.  Still does.

Late in the afternoon on May 9th 2012, I lay beside one of them on the living room floor stroking her as she took her last few breaths.

It wasn’t unexpected.  She was seventeen years old and her health hasn’t been good for a long time.  She’s had major medical issues for the last year and significant arthritis in her back legs and hips for longer than that, making it hard for her to move around much.  I’ve been afraid to pick her up for a while, worried about hurting her.

None of which changes that I wasn’t ready to let her go.  I’d never have been ready to let her go.

People who don’t have pets probably have a hard time understanding.  No, it isn’t like losing a family member, a parent or sibling or child, except it is.  Mentally, emotionally, it’s exactly the same thing.  Xena was a part of my life every single day for more than sixteen years, some days only a little and some days a constant companion.  She lived in my home and showed affection to everyone in the house, and that’s all she really wanted back.

So you’re damned right I’ve just lost a member of my family.

The day after was probably harder than the day itself, the first full day she wasn’t there.  Everywhere I looked, there was some reminder.  Over there, that’s where she had her morning nap.  There’s her food bowl.  There’s her favourite cushion.  The vent by the sliding door where she’d wait for the heat to come on.  That spot on the living room rug she always liked to scratch, even when scolded to stop.  And just a metre to the left, the last spot she lay.

And if it’s hard on me, how much worse is it for my children?  Xena was here to welcome all of them home for the first time and has been there for every day of their lives.  They spent hours every day sitting and cuddling with her.

I got to say goodbye, but I’d give a lot to say hello again, to hear her purr one more time, to have her sit in my lap while I watch TV.

Yes, life goes on for those of us still here.  Yes, I will adapt and survive; I always do.  But Xena has left a hole in my life far bigger than the space she’d seemed to occupy.  I’m not ashamed to shed some tears and I’m not ashamed to miss her.  Neither is her brother Leo, still with us and missing his sister.

Xena close up