Today was a rough one.
Growing up we never really kept a pet for more than a year – one of the struggles of having a father with bi-polar disorder. The silver lining to never keeping a pet for very long was never having to hold that pet while they fade.
Almost ten years ago, just a short while after Tiffany and I got married, she surprised me with a cat. The cat’s previous family was expanding and expecting a baby. The kitten wouldn’t stay out of the crib. Tiffany knew I’d always loved cats and offered to take her. Ludo entered our home and we renamed her Sylvanna.
I was finally free to love a pet without fear of losing it within a few short months. She was my responsibility…
Today we had to say goodbye to Sylvanna to cancer.
It’s harder than I thought it would be – and believe me when I say I knew it would be hard. Even years ago when she was healthy I would struggle with the thought of ever having to say goodbye. Today, my shoes still muddy, my muscles shaky from digging, it feels like I’ve lost an important part of me.
See, I’ve not dealt with much physical loss in my life. I’ve dealt with emotional loss – broken relationships, addiction, self-loathing – but I’ve lost few people that are close to me. I lost my grandfather as a teenager, and that’s the extent of it. Mourning is something with which I have had little practice.
I’m struck by the myriad of emotions that ebb and flow from one minute to the next. I’m struck by why it hurts so bad.
With my grandfather I remember individual moments. Walking down the street on the way to the card store to buy Pokemon cards, times when he’d pick me up from school when I was ‘sick’ and buy me hotdogs at the gas station. Him taking me home after a football game and putting me in the hot tub because I was convinced I was going to freeze to death. With people these moments stand out, they are anchor points.
Losing Sylvanna is different. Sure, there are big moments that I remember, but more than the big moments are the consistent small ones that I now know I will no longer get to experience daily.
When I look to my right she isn’t in her bed staring out the window, or perched on the back of the couch behind me.
She isn’t choosing to jump up on my lap and meow at me just as I’m getting on a work call.
When I go to the restroom I won’t be interrupted by her inexplicable rage at being shut out and separated from me for thirty seconds.
She’ll no longer be sitting on my lap as I sit on the couch, or sprawled on my desk as I play a game.
She won’t be pawing at the door to the back deck trying to get to the dead leaves that are just beyond her reach.
I won’t get to hear her meow in the morning because I’m taking too long to get up and she wants me to sit with her.
I won’t get to experience the moment when I would roll over in bed and she’d stand up next to me and there would be a tense pause before she’d go ‘fainting goat’ on me and collapse onto her side, shaking the whole bed. Then a few seconds later she’d let out a contented sigh and drift off to sleep.
I have to learn to cope with the fact that she’s been there for nearly ten years, a constant when so many things have changed – and now she’s not.
She represented peace for me, a small, steady anchor point. She’d always be there when i was having a bad day, always wanting to be pet and loved. Losing that is so, so hard.
I will likely always miss her. Though I feel the loss of her, I’m also so thankful for her. I’m so thankful for the companionship and the unconditional love that she showed (though I think more often than not she just wanted my body heat).
I’m thankful to my wife for bringing Sylvanna into our home when I knew deep down she wanted a dog.
I… I’m just at a loss for words. I want so badly to be encouraging, or to tie this post together in some meaningful way, to end it well. Normally typing helps me understand, to bring together my thoughts.
Right now I don’t think it’s about my thoughts. I ache. I ache in my throat and in my chest. I feel like a part of me is gone, missing, ripped away. It just hurts.
I’m not going to fight it. I’m going to let myself be right where I am. That’s what it means to be human, right?
Goodbye Sylvanna, I’ll miss you.