(I have a list of friends that I will forever associate with their pets. Amy/Steel, Karin/Popper, Lisa/Pablo Diablo, Angie/Voodoo, Donigan/Bella, Sara/Crow, Mike/Loki, Teresa & Eddie/Their Loki, Jeff/Zeus, and the list could go on for quite awhile. For some of these people I think of their pets first, and their significant others second.)
This hit home early this morning when my brother Chuck's cat, Lizzie, passed away. Lizzie lived to be 16 and a half years old, which I think is about 102 in cat years, and she passed away quickly and in my brother's arms. In some ways, it's the "best way" for an animal companion to leave this world, but that's cold comfort, and doesn't really ease the pain all that much. Lizzie wasn't my cat, but her loss has had me on the verge of tears for the last twelve hours, as I grieve for her and most especially, the hole in my brother's heart.
|Lizzie, we will miss you.|
|Me and Princess.|
(Lizzie also had a strange split personality on occasion. One summer afternoon she sat in my lap and let me pet her. Shortly there after she was purring, but at the same time she began to howl and growl at me. She was the only cat that could be perfectly content and yet completely pissed off at the same time. As weird as it was, it's one of the many reasons I loved that cat. That was some exceptional, and memorable, behavior.)
A lot of the pain I have over the loss of Lizzie is that I can't be there for my brother. I think our society often has this skewed perception that when an animal passes it goes into the ground and that people immediately move on. Such is not the case. Losing a pet is like losing any loved one, and the grieving process can be long and painful. If the average relationship with a cat or dog lasts ten to fifteen years . . . well that's longer than most friendships and most romantic relationships. Pets are often the most constant things in our lives, until we have children, and even then a bond with a pet might be one that's not shared with a significant other as a bond with a child might be.
On the positive side my brother and I got to share a lot of things with our cats over the course of their long lives. Chuck and Lizzie got to watch his Lakers and Red Wings win about ten championships between them (sports matter in my family), and see his Chicago Bears make the Super Bowl, and the Cubs come closer to a World Series than they have in 100 years. They also got to share several moves around the country, and see my brother completely pull his life together and go back to school. I'm not sure he could have done that last thing without Lizzie there to share his life and apartment.
(Princess and I got to share two Steeler Super Bowl wins, a Penguins Stanley Cup, and a Celtics NBA title. The Penguin win came just about two weeks before she passed. I remember running up the stairs after the Stanley Cup dancing around with her, so glad that she got to "see" this thing that she didn't even know existed. Yes, I'm weird. A week later Princess wandered through a group of my friends getting goodbye pettings, and then shortly passed on.)
I remember losing Princess and the pain that entailed. I think I cried more over my cat of twelve years (she was six when I got her, she had a long run) than I ever have over any other living thing. Thirty months removed from the experience I'm still bothered by it. Religion offers us some solace over those loses, but it's not as therapeutic as many of us would like. I remember having day dreams a few months after Princess passed on about a tiny kitten meowing on my door step, her face and paws black, her coat tan, a reincarnated little baby come back to me. Unfortunately, the Wheel doesn't quite turn like that, and that day dream was just that a daydream, however the world does work in unexpected ways.
|Evie the meercat. |
|Sisters-Summer and Evie.|
I came across Princess' stocking last week while putting up the holiday decorations. The wound was still fresh and it hurt, but I did take some joy in knowing how many years we were able to spend together. Both Lizzie and Princess had good, long lives, spent with people who love them. If you are a cat I'm guessing you can't ask for much more than that.
|Summer, house guardian. |