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Pain, Loss, Grieving and Moving on with my Life

11/29/2011

Entry 11/29/2011 10:58:32 AM – Mentat 623

Yesterday, Cricket died.

I knew that she was in a bad way since the weekend when she was having serious mobility problems and that it was extremely difficult for her to get into the litterbox with the cover on it without falling all over the place, I remember being woken up around 3 in the morning when I heard her stumble into the litterbox and then out of it lying there on the floor looking all pitifully and glassy-eyed. I kept vigil with her and ensured that when she was hungry, she was near to her food. When she wasn’t hungry near to be to sit by to relax and enjoy a little lap time. Toward the end of the weekend, she seemed to have made a recovery and was mobile for the most part. Her appetite while slaking a little, recovered as well.

Then Sunday night, when I went to bed, I remember her mewing pitifully near to the bed, and knowing it was much too high for her to jump onto it, picked her up where she had gotten comfortable near to me, rubbing up against me and making all sorts of noise about wanting to be pet. After falling asleep with petting here, the next morning when I woke up, I found she had passed away.

No breathing.

No heartbeat.

I was (and still am) shattered.

This morning, I find the house unrealistically quiet. Even with the traffic outside my opened windows and three other cats in the house (all my roommate’s), I miss the familiar sounds of her either wanting attention from me, or making her way to and from the litterbox or food bowls. I felt the keen sense of loss after finishing my oatmeal and ready to put down the bowl for her to lick clean only to realize, she’s not there anymore to pester me for her “tithe” from my food.

I find myself wanting to look for her as it’s too quiet in the house, and having to stop and realize that I had buried her in the private pet cemetery my high school friends and I found in our wanderings through the Booth Pond Preservation Area. I had buried here near to where Satan (who I had to put down because of Feline Leukemia) and Svengali (who ended up running out of the house and being hit by a car) are buried. It was the place that Tiger was supposed to be buried, but being too poor couldn’t afford the trip back to Woonsocket from Atlanta with him in tow I ended up burying Tiger in the backyard of the house I lived in in Ormewood Park in Atlanta.

I still find myself bawling uncontrollably at all hours of the day and night and know that this is going to last another week before the hole that I feel in my heart and mind will be slowly filled with the everyday sounds and goings on in my life.

I find it strange that in all the years I’ve lived and all the people I’ve seen die and buried; I find myself devastated by the loss of my pets more than I ever have the passing of another human being (with the exclusion perhaps, of Tommy). I can put the affairs of other people’s lives and my life in order, crying sometimes at their passing, but with my cats? I am a complete and total wreck. I have (now and in the past) found myself bawling like the stories that people do at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem…

There’s plenty of reasons that seem to make sense — like the difference between the conditional love of peers and the unconditional love pets often give to their masters/owners. And while I can relate to them — I honestly don’t think they touch what I feel in my heart when it comes to people and pets. It’s something more primal and emotional and less intellectual and thinking. A part of something my cats have always touched in me, that humans often fail to find because they tend to think more than feel. Tommy was the only exclusion because I think his loyalty was far more primal and instinctive than intellectual and reasoned and why his passing has effected me in the same ways Tiger and Cricket have.

Cricket was part of my life for more than 14 years now, and a day later, the hole that I’m feeling with her passing sometimes too unbearable to handle. I know that with time and healing, the loss will become more bearable; but right now I find myself absolutely heartsick. So I’m writing this as a sort of homage/obituary to the cat that’s wandered about three states and 4 houses/apartments in that time.

I’ve nursed her through not one, but two masses in her stomach that she had lost unbelievable amounts of weight, though I’ve been fortunate in that she had recovered both times with a tenacity of surviving I find myself both jealous of and admiring.

She was the noisiest and most vocal cat that I have ever had in my life. She would voice her displeasure at the drop of a hat, and would beg like there was no tomorrow for a piece of whatever it was that I was eating… Meal, snack… Whatever it was that she saw heading for my mouth.

At the beginning she was fussy about things I ate, only sticking to meats and salty foods. I remember that as a kitten, she was stubborn as hell about foods she didn’t like at all and would literally choose to starve than eat what was put out for her. As she got older though, she would eat anything. Toward the end, if I ate it, she would as well; all except citrus. That was one thing that she stood fast against wanting to try. She used to be partial to seafood, but as she got older it would upset her and she only ended throwing it up instead of keeping it down.

She would follow me wherever I went in the house — be it the living room, kitchen, bedroom. When she was younger she would be waiting for me on the toilet while I was taking a shower, but later on in life she would simply sleep on the bed, watch and wait for me as I stepped out of the bathroom. She might not stay in whatever room I was in if it didn’t involve something she wanted, but she always made sure she knew where I was in the house. If I sat still long enough she would join me, and either watch television (when I still had one in the house), or Hulu (when I no longer did).

When she was younger, she would ignore me if I had left the house for an extended period of time (like a weekend vacation), but after her staying in the shelter in Pennsylvania when I was homeless she was always glad to see me home. She might have bitched at me about it — whining incessantly until she was sure that I was back for the duration — but when she was sure I was home to stay she would settle in as though I had never once left.

She had never shown jealousy toward anyone in the house (unlike Tiger who had on occasion by urinating on people’s clothes or shoes), though she never did take to anyone other than me. She was well known for hissing at everyone if they got too close to her for too long. I believe that she knew that no one would ever get between her and I. My aunt was confused about that given that I lived there for 6 years and Cricket’s attitude to her had never once changed.

Cricket was never a traveling cat like Tiger before her. She hated cars. She wouldn’t sit still and would cry about it for hours at a time wanting attention from me whenever she could get it. Though she did take to houses better than Tiger did and figured out the lay of the house quickly enough even when there were other cats present. Unlike Tiger who wanted to check what was going on outside, Cricket’s one and only time of being locked out of the house during a Southern Winter convinced her it was by far safer to be indoors than outdoors. So unless I would venture out of the house, I could leave the doors open to the outside and she would stop at the doorway to look out instead of venturing out.

She was always the alpha of the house. Even at 14 when we moved here to Providence, she made sure the other cats knew that she was the queen of the house, even causing the male of the house — Mr. Whiskey Whiskers — know that she wasn’t to be messed with when she was patrolling the kitchen. Quite the site that was, with her being 13 pounds wet and practically skin, fur and bones and he was easily three times her size.

She did remarkably well for a cat with no undercoat moving to the Tundras of the North. Even though when the temperatures fell below 50 F (10 C), she would make it a point to get under the covers with me whenever possible. Also, as one of the pictures on Deviant Art shows, her other favorite place near to me was to be sitting and sleeping on throw wrapped around my legs during the fall and winter.

Cricket earned her two other nicknames of Hellbeast (for the amount of whinging she would do at me during the course of a day), and Pusswah (for the way she acted like she owned the house and the world). And while she had given up her kitten like past time of taking coins and dropping them into my shoes, as an adult she learned through voice and through presence to make sure where she was in the house was well known by me. Even when she was hiding under the bed and sleeping in her pet bed there.

Sitting here and writing all this, I’m finding myself chuckling a little to myself (manic as it feels right now given how raw my feelings are), the look on her face when I scolded her. She would literally squint at me, pucker the upper part of her face and flatten out her ears at me; giving me the look of out and out rebellion. As though how dare I scold her for being her.

I made a promise long ago when I learned just how vocal she was, that she would be the first and last woman in my life (other than relatives) and when and if I’m ready for owning another cat… I know that that next cat won’t be female. Partially in dedication to Cricket’s impact, but mostly because I don’t think I could handle another cat kvetching at me like she used to.

Right now, as I’m sitting here listening to the first song I heard when I realized she passed away (a song I will always attribute to her as I do this song with Tiger) and bawling again like the 5 year old I was when I realized that Mittens had died, I know that like Tiger’s passing, I will be left with the good memories of Cricket instead of the pain of loss. It’s just getting through the grieving process that I need to do at the moment.

Until the next time when I’m able to think and feel without crying myself into hyperventilation…

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