This past Friday, after a nearly 16-month battle with kidney disease, we put our Simba-cat to rest.
This is just me grieving and working through some of the sadness and love.
It’s all the little things, the quiet things, the flickers of moments
so familiar, so normal, but a touch off-kilter.
Your face not in the window when I come home.
Me not having to shoo you away from the door (even though it’s so cold out and you would not want to go outside anyway, crazyface).
Water not all over the kitchen floor (my socks don’t miss that).
You not cuddled up with the others in my office.
(They’ve been sleeping a lot more separated, you know? Like you were the one that pulled them all together. Like you were the one they all wanted to be near.)
Not having to do medicine or fluids or worry about whether you were eating enough.
You not at the bedroom door demanding food in the morning.
No more bites to my knees when I’m not fast enough for your liking with giving you said food.
I could never begrudge you for that — hey, at least you wanted to eat.
No three to five different food bowls in the bathroom where you can eat in peace.
There is peace, still so much peace.
None of this negates that.
I know it was time. I know you were ready. I know it was the best thing for you.
So it’s okay. It is.
It really is.
But trying to disentangle you from me after over a decade of you being so very intertwined…
I just miss you, darling.
We celebrate you, love you, hold you so tightly in our hearts.
But we miss you.
You are ingrained in me, interwoven in every moment of my life
since the instant you entered it.
This unrelenting instinct — to care for you, watch you, hover over you, hold you, love you…
I will never stop loving you, but it’s just…different now.
Sometimes love is holding on to the bitter end and continuing to fight through it.
And sometimes it is letting go, even when it hurts.
Maybe especially when it hurts.
The others race around my feet, and it’s fine, and it’s grounding, but there’s one missing,
and I’m sure someday that feeling will ebb and fade,
but still, you won’t be here.
It’s not a hole I feel, because you weren’t one spot, one thing —
you were in all the things.
I don’t know how else to describe it.
How to describe you beyond “perfect.”
Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from a good, loving heavenly daddy
who gives wonderful, wonderful gifts to his children.
Including perfect, little orange kittens who grow up to be perfect, little orange cats.
You were a gift not just from him but from God.
A gift and blessing in so many ways.
Such a joy, joy, joy.
I have loved every cat, but you — you were something special.
Time is a gift.
The time we had before we knew something was wrong.
The extra, unexpected time we had where every day was uncertain but treasured,
largely because we knew in new ways how fragile you were.
Time with you, though so painfully short in so many ways,
is forever, forever a gift and honor and privilege I will thank God for.
That we knew you, loved you, were your people…
That we had the honor to watch you grow up,
to care for you even when every day was a struggle,
to be with you at the very end.
We gave you more time here with us,
fought for more time with you even when some thought we should let you go —
and you in turn fought to give us more time with you.
For you were ready on Tuesday night,
but you held on.
Like you held on to the tree the first time I put you in one
and you scrambled up it and then couldn’t get down.
Remember how I laser-focused and climbed up to get you?
Plucked you off the branches you clung to and pressed you against my heart?
Told you it was okay, that I had you?
Then carried you down, using only one hand because I dare not let go of you?
It’s what we’ve done for years — hold on to each other.
It’s what I’ve done for years — follow you, hold you, and make sure you’re okay.
And I know a cat can’t really understand…but I know you understood me Tuesday night.
“If you’re done, it’s okay. Just show me.”
You were ready then, but you knew I had to try…
I had to try,
I had to try to save you.
I had to know if I could save you.
I had to follow you and make sure you knew I wasn’t leaving you there alone,
that I’d be there to bring you back if you let me.
But you were tired.
And it was your time.
Acceptance is bitter yet beautiful in its own way.
From Tuesday to Wednesday, you held on, endured the force-feeding and my tearful pleas
when you knew you were dying.
You didn’t have to eat for me those times, didn’t have to do anything except give up —
but you held on for us.
And then Thursday…oh, Thursday.
The confirmation of what I knew in my gut but didn’t want to be true.
And still, you held on, purring and purring and letting us hold you for one more night
as we wrestled through narrowing options and the refusal to put you through any more of this.
Letting us love on you and curl up beside you and tell you goodbye
and kiss you a hundred times and cry and laugh at all the good memories.
There are only good memories with you, you know that?
You are only good. Only joy.
Such a good, good boy who used up every drop of energy to make it to the end.
You could’ve gone in your sleep so we didn’t have to make that decision,
but you knew we needed to be there,
say our final goodbyes,
and let you go instead of finding you cold and already gone.
Your love and will kept you going from Tuesday to Friday
when your body, your exhausted kidneys, were done.
I truly believe that.
Those times you looked up at me on Thursday night with that pleading look of, “Fix this,”
as if to make sure I got the message that you were done,
yet you still held on for us.
Those sweet, quiet moments early Friday morning where I held you and wept
and you just purred for me like nothing was wrong, like it wasn’t your final hours of life,
and there was nowhere either of us would’ve rather been than with each other.
I wouldn’t trade a second of having you to spare myself the absence of you.
You are worth every tear I have cried and will cry.
So worth it.
In love, we kept you going — and in love, you kept going until the last second,
and then you were gone so fast, so peacefully, no pain.
Like you were already at the finish line and just waiting for us to catch up
so you could take that last step.
I fought so hard to keep you here.
For almost sixteen months, you fought so hard to stay —
and it’s hard now to accept that we don’t have to do that anymore.
Wherever you are…wherever beloved pets go when they’re gone, I think you’re whole now.
You’re not hungry but unable to stomach food — you love food again.
You’re not dehydrated and weak and nauseated — you’re strong and healthy.
That happy guy who played hide n seek with me and attacked plastic bags.
And who just wanted to eat grass and sprawl out in the sunlight.
You were always so beautiful in the sun.
I hope you’re somewhere in the sun now, glowing gold and warm and happy
with a body that doesn’t hurt anymore.
Thank you, thank you for being ours,
our best little buddy.