Despite the fact that I’m almost 50 years old, I’ve had very little experience with death. I’ve been to exactly three funerals in my life, none of which were people that I was close to.
I’ve experienced the death of one pet, several years ago, and although I cried my fair share of tears, I’ve never been through the grief as my recent loss.
Perhaps it’s because there’s no closure. The not knowing is maddening. My Bart escaped a month ago via a partially open patio door. Under the dark of night, he snuck out, his black fur blending into the darkness surrounding him, never to be seen again.
It had been a particularly beautiful night, until the heavy rains began a few hours later. My family and I spent hours screaming his name, shaking the treat box, jingling his toys, roaming the property, walking along the fairly busy highway we live on, getting eaten by mosquitos and brushed by moths. We were oblivious to those things at the time, all of us distraught.
Bart was rescued from an animal shelter in June 2017 during a particularly rough point in my life. Following a sudden diagnosis of stage 4 kidney cancer, an operation to remove the right kidney two weeks later, the death of my father during this time (a funeral that I was too sick to attend), and then severe bouts of debilitating anxiety, we had gotten Bart to keep me grounded and put a smile back on my usually cheerful face.
We did everything together. We were together basically day and night, since I was no longer in a position to work. He’d help me with laundry, sweeping, dishes, yoga- oh, his favourite, of course, was helping with the groceries! He’d get so excited, inspect every bag.
Bart was a very smart and gentle cat. He was an American Bombay and one quality they have is that they usually select one main person as “their human”. I was his Human. He would sleep on my toes while I watched t.v. or read. Naturally, I’d keep my feet under him until I could no longer bear the cramping in my legs, or until my bladder could take no more.
I’m no stranger to emotional pain, but this? The not knowing. The “why”. The regret, heartache, cold feet even when it’s been especially hot. The mind games, picturing him starving and dying of thirst. Wondering if he hears us calling his name. Maybe even watching us from afar, as we put his litter box outside for three weeks in a row, hung our dirty laundry out, hoping he’d catch our scent. Playing the djembe, in hopes that the sound of drum filters it’s way to him and he finds it familiar, finds his way home.
I’ve cried every day since. After much debate, we got another rescue kitten from the same shelter Bart had come from. While the little guy is adorable, I give him snuggles filled with guilt. I cannot fully love him, as my heart is broken and it’s not fair to him
I’d like to think that every day, I heal a little. But I don’t know if I have, or if I will. I’ve lost a part of me. My mind plays evil tricks on me, making me think I hear his cry or see a flash of black fur.
I have few regrets in life, but that day? I would give anything to relive that day, I still have hope, but that hope rips me apart a bit more with each passing day. Always, I am so sure that “Today is the day!”
But yet, it is not.