Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Love and Loss

A few weeks ago, I lost my beloved cat. Her death didn't just blindside me; it devastated me. 

We have three other cats, of course, but she was so special. We had a bond like I've never experienced with another animal. Hell, I've never experienced it with another person. The cancer moved quickly, and we didn't see it coming. She wasn't even five years old. I could not have loved her more and I feel cheated out of time I could have had with her, and guilt that I couldn't do anything to save her.

It's taken me weeks of daily sobbing fits to be able to write about my loss. I'm getting better, but the love I had for this little girl is so intense that it does make me wonder about the connection a mother has with her child.

If you're going to chastise me for comparing the two, just stop right now, okay? I know it's different, but this is the closest I will get to this emotion, so just give me a break here.

I've lost animals before, but with her it was like a part of me left with her. As I held her in my arms in her last moments I felt my heart break with physical pain that radiated through my entire body. I still feel an emptiness that I'm terrified will never leave. I miss her every day in little ways, and sometimes in big ways. I loved her most.

I'm not having random breakdowns anymore, but the pain is still palpable. The way I'm choosing to deal with some of this grief is to get a new kitten. When my first cat was growing old and ill, I got my new little girl. She was essential to getting over my grief, and I think that's a big reason why our bond was so close. I needed her, she needed me, and we became inseparable.

I love my other cats, of course, but I lack that special, deep connection with them. I know now that I crave that connection, that I need that in my life. But I also know now that a bond with an animal is enough to satisfy that part of who I am. Losing her has taught me a lot about myself and the love that I need in my life.

We're going to meet the new kitten this week. If we bond, if it feels right, we will jump in feet first. While I know better than to expect the intensity of the bond with a new kitten to rival the kitty love of my life, I'm excited to open my heart up to another animal. New beginnings for a new year.


Charlotte Pahline said...

I'm so so sorry for your loss. As a fellow CF I had a full blown and my first ever (and hopefully last ever) panic attack when our dog started limping/was diagnosed with a ruptured tumor/had to be put down in the span of one weekend. We've got two new little girls now that I swear are my fuzzy hearts. Parent's like the quote that to have children is to allow your heart to go walking around outside your body (I'm paraphrasing) but that truly is how I feel about my girls. I hope you find the sweetest and cutest little kitten ever.

p.s.) Someone as established in the CF community probably already knows this but I recently discovered reddit and the subreddit r/childfree - it's been liberating and a very safe zone. If you're not already there, I think you'd love it.

Mad said...

I'm so sorry about your cat.

Jenn said...

So sad to read this, and I understand completely. I have loved all of my pets and thought of them as family, but some of them are soulmates. I am also CF, so I can't say whether this is like a mother and child bond. I don't think they are the same; but I think the animal-shaped hole in your heart is just as deep, and the loss is heavy and keenly felt. My condolences.

Nikki alvey said...

I have just discovered your blog. Also CF and a cat parent. I am so sorry for your loss. Some human parents find it hard to understand the bond and emotional connection between an animal and its human. I hope you are doing ok xox

Rachel said...

I've just found your blog and look forward to reading more of your posts! My husband and I are a child free couple too. We also have a lab, Honey, who is a living, breathing extension of our hearts. She is everything to us (me, particularly as we emigrated together to be with my husband and she's with me at home everyday and so helpful through my times of anxiety and depression), so I absolutely feel for your loss. I'm so sorry! The only comforting thought I can say is to know that she is happy and you'll be together again one day. Animals are so precious and I couldn't care less what other couples with children say about us. Honey is our baby. We take care of her in just the same way and I feel sorry for parents that cannot see that the love we give is just the same. Sorry again for your loss but all the best in finding a new Miss Puss!

Anonymous said...

No one ever sees they need a night out without their pets. My friends and family all want a night out or a weekend away without their kids. When our cat died unexpectedly last year, we had a new shelter the next week. He is my baby. He has been sick the last two weeks and I had to take him to the vet daily. He became more cuddly and dependent on me. He had to sit in my lap or lay on my chest. I seem to love him more than most people I know love their children.
Sorry for your loss. I hope your new kitty helped with your grieving.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry about your little girl. I lost my little boy Peanut a year ago and I thought the pain would kill me. He slept in the crook of my arm with his head on my shoulder every night for 11 years. One day, on a camping trip, he started having trouble breathing. He had been in heart failure for years, but suddenly he was much worse. He died in my arms and there was nothing I could do. I still miss him all the time. Those people who say (and believe me I have heard it ALOT) "you can never love anything as much as you love your child" drive me crazy. You can't quantify love like that. You can't measure what someone else feels and compare it to your own heart and decide yours is more real. I know love. And I loved my boy Peanut.

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