A Great Loss

I’ve been trying to understand this since it happened; back on October 17, a week ago, but I still can’t. And I still can’t accept this has happened. I don’t want to write this because if I don’t write it then in this pseudo-reality it hasn’t happened….

But, I can’t hold onto ghosts.

Joey’s been my best friend since I was ten–nine maybe?

I don’t actually remember a time when Joey wasn’t apart of my family, except now. He’s still apart of my family. But this day marks the first week in fourteen years that Joey hasn’t been a daily part of my mornings, afternoons, evenings, and nights because last Monday at about 1pm on the 17th he died–with my hands wrapped around him.

I still haven’t stopped crying.

It comes back in waves.

The cycles of grief encircle me like they sharks and I am a single person floating in an ocean.

Every few days they seem to ease up, spread farther away from me, until suddenly, they’re back for more–ripping me apart. This all-consuming grief for my lovely cat that I have is not going to be understood by everyone. I love animals very much-I believe they have spirits, or souls. Anyone who claims different just hasn’t paid attention. To some, this grief will make sense. If you’ve loved an animal you know what it’s like when they break your heart.

Joey was my best friend, but I couldn’t reverse acute kidney failure, I couldn’t stop him from being sick. And watching him, still struggling, hanging on with god knows what strength when he was too sick to continue on, was indescribable. Yet, according to the vet, he was a stubborn old guy–hell bent on hanging on as long as possible. My Joey had acute kidney failure and when the tests came back we found out that Joey’s toxin level was way off the chart-as in the machine couldn’t calculate them, there was that much–which meant, my vet said, he should’ve been dead already.

He wasn’t.

Some animals manage to do that; hold on longer than possible, for us. My cousins dog did that. Held on for her. And that’s when your greatest test comes up. What do you do? Ethically and morally, I debated this with myself for ages, Joey was sick and in pain, despite the fact the doctor said he wouldn’t get better-his organs were failing, in my mind the only way he could never get better was if we let him go–euthanized him. Because, while we still have breath in our lungs things have the possibility of getting better. But, not with something like this. After another terrible seizure, where I begged every god I could think to, to just give me a little more time with him, I knew I didn’t have a choice. It was my job to take care of him. It was his job to take care of me  In the end, my baby was in pain, dying, having seizures, and could barely walk. The only option was to let him go.

When he died a piece of my heart died too.

He’s always been there for me but now his absence is like the coldest February wind. And I’m walking in it alone, people at my side, start to disappear. And my life replays before my eyes. The hardships, the adversaries, the constant battles, the problems with family, the abuse the surpassed each line, the never-ending health issues, the depression, anxiety, pain disorder, and PTSD that followed. Some of those days were so dark that the only reason I chose to keep living was because Joey was here-Joey was a beautiful soul in an ugly darkness. Joey needed me-even if no one else did. Those were the worst days. The darkest times.

On the darkest days, it always went back to the same things, stories, writing, friends and family, and Joey. Joey was with me through three surgeries. He was with me on the worst nights of those surgeries when the pain was keeping me awake, the medication was terrifying me, and I wasn’t sure I would live to see the next day. The night after I was assaulted by my first college “boyfriend” (we had maybe four dates-he wasn’t my boyfriend )  I lay awake that night, numb, petting Joey who was by my side, purring.

Joey was my best friend. He knows more about me than anyone. Or knew. Joey was more than a cat. He was a friend when I had none. He was a light at rock bottom. And last Monday, I had to say goodbye to him. It was my turn to lead him through the darkness-it was my responsibility.

So, I excused myself, went to the bathroom and cried, then straightened my back, cleared my eyes, stiffened my upper lip, and went back to where he waited for me in the back room-the “dying room”.

I stayed with my baby as they began the process and told him stories. The first ever stories I ever wrote were of him and my youngest sister traveling through time and space on her birthday. I told him what I remembered of that silly story. Told him we’d see each other soon. Told him, he just had to go away for awhile, but that we’d be together sooner than he even knew and until then he could just play and have fun in the fields while he waits for me. But, eventually my stories had to come to an end, as his clear grey-green eyes lost their light, and closed, he almost seemed to be smiling.

His lifeless body was strangely empty. And he was gone.  I left the room with him still wrapped in a blanket that I brought for him earlier that day. Not having the slightest idea that morning that I would loose what was most precious to me. But I guess we never know when those days are.

Joey wasn’t just a pet.

He wasn’t just a cat.

He was apart of my family and a bigger part of my heart and healing after the worst things imaginable happened to me.

My hearts broken now. All the heartbreak I’ve ever encountered pales in comparison to the endless void that is the consistent absence of Joey. We didn’t want him to go. But he was ready to. He may have wanted to stay but he also knew it was time. I could see it all so clearly in his eyes.

Now I’m left with an empty bed, empty savings, and an empty heart that’s missing half.

But, I wouldn’t change a thing. Since living with this grief means I got to spend time with Joey, it is worth it, he is the best cat in my entire world.

I love him with everything I have in my heart.





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