I started this endeavor exactly one year ago. Like a brand-new outfit, I wanted to wear it immediately and then every day thereafter, but it ended up in the back of the closet, forgotten; like a rumpled, old hand me down. I like this outfit though, so I decided to try it on again to see if it still fits. I’ve added a few accessories and tailored it to fit a broader audience beyond my first attempt. It’s not just a blog about cats, surprise! This week though, I’m going to reflect back to what inspired my desire in the first place and give you some insight as to what I might write about in the future…The things you aren’t supposed to say out loud. I’m going to say them. This is huge for the introvert that I am. It’s so easy to type what you feel because there is safety behind the keyboard until you publish it. Here I go…
It’s here. I’ve been dreading this week for a year. Conversely, I’ve been looking forward to each passing day as a cumulative path to healing. One day becomes two, then a week, a month, six months and here I am. My hope, my wish is that someone will find some inspiration in what I’m able to share. We’re all in this together.
What is this week? This week marks one year since the passing of my (our) beloved cat, Lola. I adopted her at age two from a local pet shelter. After searching high and low for the perfect new family member, I walked into a pet store where they were holding an adoption event. There she was. It was love at first sight, for both of us!
Lola was with me through the best and worst times of my life. She was always there to lay on my lap and assure me that everything would be okay again, as long as I kept her fed. I’ve never met a cat so concerned about when the next meal was going to be served, as if she ever missed one. She would remind me when I was late getting home from work that it was dinner time and faithfully followed Mike down the stairs every morning to remind him she was ready for breakfast. Lola didn’t really care for people, except for us. She loved to take naps, lay in the sunshine and chase her soccer balls around the house, specifically around 3am. We were devoted to each other.
I’ll never forget that day.
I went to work on an ordinary Wednesday. I specifically remember chatting with a client about Lola as I often did. Everyone knew about Lola, my first born, my fur child. She asked if we had any fun vacations coming up before the end of summer to which I replied, “We can only do short trips because it is so stressful on Lola when we’re gone.” That’s the thing about animals, you are their whole world. I came home from work, starving; threw some food on the stove to reheat and ran upstairs to do my usual check. Lola was in her favorite spot on the bed and I began a conversation with her while I hurriedly changed my clothes. My heart sank when I realized that she had fallen into the “Big Sleep.” We had known she wasn’t well but we never expected it to be THAT DAY. You never do. We don’t know the actual cause but we are so grateful that she didn’t suffer. Don’t we all hope that when death knocks on our door it will be as peaceful as it was for her? She had fourteen wonderful years.
I couldn’t be in our house without paws. Two days after Lola passed Mike and I were on a mission to visit cat shelters. We were open to adoption but not seeking it out. I had been a volunteer at a shelter and knew that there were so many cats who would just be happy to have a visitor for the day. It would help to fill the void in our hearts. In the same fashion that I found Lola and at the same place, were these two, adorable ragdoll kittens. Sisters! We weren’t ready but we felt that Lola had arranged the meeting for us. We brought them home the next day and over the past year they have provided an endless supply of laughter, love and healing.
You could call me fortunate but I had never suffered a loss like this before. My father passed away in 2006 but we had a different type of relationship. A friend of mine said it perfectly, “The loss of a pet is so much more painful than the loss of a human because pets aren’t assholes.” Isn’t that the truth?
The thing you aren’t “supposed to do” is say that you are depressed. You’re just supposed to put the mask on and go through the motions.
“Hi, how are you?”
“How was your day?”
“What’s new with you?”
I was in a deep depression for about 6 months and then I finally had enough of being sad. That’s not usually how that works. I decided for myself that even if the glass seemed half empty I would pour it into a smaller glass and make it full. It made me feel good to have plans and actually follow through with them. The sun came out again. I got back to LIFE!
I feel a responsibility to note that depression often doesn’t look like you think it does, much like drowning, sometimes referred to as a “silent killer/death,” “silent” being the operative word in this case. Drowning in your own emotions, if you will. If you have a friend you haven’t heard from in a while, check on them. If you’re experiencing a deep sadness for yourself, there are free and confidential support systems available for you. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Tel: 1-800-273-8255.
Today is the day.
One year. I can’t believe it. It seems like it has been so long and yet it feels like yesterday. I still cry from time to time but not as much as I used to. Things are different but they are great. We’ve become a new family and our hearts have expanded by eight paws, not diminished by four. There is always room for more paws although eight really is enough. The most difficult part of having a pet is the day you lose them but every single moment in between makes it worthwhile. The girls, (Moxie and Foxy) are two years old now and thriving. I look forward to sharing more about them with you in the future. With two long-haired cats in the house, I now understand why they call it, “FUR-niture.” I will always remember the great times we had with Lola. I’ve come full circle with my grief and with this new outfit. It’s pressed and ready for a new adventure. I hope you’ll come along and bring your friends with you.