Saturday, October 29, 2011

On Life and Loss

9 days ago I had a birthday.  8 days ago we had to take Kit, our family cat to the vet for the dreaded but eventual one way trip that a lot of us have to make with our pets.  It was a crappy birthday week.

We had gone to GA for the weekend to celebrate my Dad's induction into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame with the rest of my family that could be there. 

We arrived home Sunday late afternoon to Kit not greeting us at the door as we came into the apartment.  When I called her, she came out from under our bed, but it was obvious that she was not herself.  Vet visits Monday afternoon and again on Thursday became the foreshadowing of the reality I had slowly begun to accept. 

She was still Kit, but obviously things were not right on the inside and she was getting worse.  Instead of going out to celebrate my birthday, we stayed home and I periodically would go into the bathroom where we were keeping her to check on how she was doing. 

I ended the beginning of my 55th year on this earth saying goodbye to a beloved pet that had shared the last 15 of them with me.  And then on Friday morning, with my heart breaking, I quietly patted her to sleep as the sedative took effect and then walked out of the room through one door while the vet went out the back door to administer the final shot that would stop her heart.

A lot of you don't like cats and don't understand those of us who make room for them in our lives.  But for those of us who have, we've learned that a cat and her mysterious ways are simply a wealth of affection waiting to be discovered and embraced.  I could never begin to count the number of family pictures she's in from being cuddled as a scrawny little kitten that looked like a baby possum to sitting or laying on each family member more ways and more times than any of us can count.  In the last few years, I was the primary recipient because I was the only one home during the day and wintertime found her on my lap within a minute or two of sitting down, preferably with a fleece blanket over my lap first.

I've read that when grief comes for any reason, it pokes at the scars from past pain and can multiply the emotion that is felt.  I have found that to be true and as with the original grief, I'm ready for it to be over before it apparently is going to be.  I had distractions this week in the form of a visit from Joey but he left today.  While the intense feeling of loss has lessened, I know that it will be a while before I quit thinking that I see or hear Kit as I go through my day.

Matt Redman has a song on his album, "10,000 Reasons" called "O This God".  Part of the lyrics are below:

We've walked through storms and
We have walked through sorrow
Still You won't let them steal away tomorrow

We are going to shine
Now we are going to shine for You

We leave the old behind
It will not define us, no
Yesterday is gone
Now anything is possible

Those I have loved and lost, human and otherwise, will always be in my heart and will never be forgotten. But if I'm not careful, grieving over what's gone could steal away tomorrow and I don't want that to happen. So I'm praying the tears that have yet to fall will soften my heart and not harden it as I look ahead to what this now makes possible.

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."
~A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh