Right now, as I type, I am sitting on the foot of my bed- door shut and locked, the sound of the fan spinning right above me, small pieces of my hair swipe my cheeks as the wind picks them up. I’m looking out my window and it’s a bit cloudy. It feels cozy in here, even though my back hurts a bit from leaning over to type. And I know there’s a better chair for me to use- one with actual lumbar support, but I’ve chosen to set up shop here. Because this is where my cat, Moo, is. The door is closed so our other cat can’t come in to mess with her vibe, and there’s a hair tie somewhere in the covers that she’s been playing with for the past 30 minutes or so. She’s happy and content here, and so am I. Just me and her, at least for a little while.
She goes under anesthesia this Thursday to get her teeth cleaned/some extracted, and, ever since I booked her appointment, I’ve been feeling nervous about it. We went through this a couple years ago, and obviously all was okay. In fact, she came out much happier because she was no longer in pain- the teeth causing the issue were gone. And now, here we are, about to do it all again. And I’m scared.
Part of me is happy she has no idea what’s about to come her way, but, selfishly, I wish I could look her in the eyes, let her know the plan, and tell her it will be okay. I wish this so she could look at me right back, and say, “It’s okay. I understand the process, I know that it is necessary, it’s going to be worth it. I will be okay.”
To someone who’s never had a fur baby, I may sound a little nuts. I’m okay with that. I am nuts. Proudly so. I have spent the last 10 years of my life, my entire adult life as I know it, with her. We’ve gone through college together, relationships together, many different homes and three different states together. A marriage, another college degree. Dad’s death. The loss of her sister Chip, and then bringing a dog, and then a cat, and then another puppy home. How loyal and tolerant she has been through all of these changes, and how sneakily she’s turned me into a self-proclaimed “crazy cat lady”.
She’s one of my last ties to an old life, old memories I never want to forget. She’s been my everyday constant for so long, that I swear I see her in everything I do. Anytime I see something in the corner of my eye, I immediately think it’s her. She is such a part of my being that I don’t know what I’d do without her. Which is why I’m writing this, so I can try to process. But how can you process such a thing, and why should I try, when she’s still here on the bed, laying right beside me?
Time is a thief, more so for some than others. We’re both getting older, but one’s aging faster. The hardest part of being a pet parent. The knowledge that you, statistically, will outlive this little being that has made your world so much brighter and happier and fuller in the short time you’ve known them.
I know people who’ve lost the fur baby loves of their lives, and refuse to bring another into their home because the hurt of losing them is just too great. And I get that. Every time I think of losing Moo, my heart skips and my eyes wince and I shake my head and try to remind myself of all the time we’ve had together. The love I have for her feels unfathomable. It’s unexplainable, I just know it’s here. Buried deep inside my heart. Which makes it understandable that the fear I’d have of losing her is just as deep. But I’d rather spend my days focusing on all the love, on all the life we’ve been blessed to have together. That’s the only remedy I can think of to this incredibly painful, yet inevitable outcome we will one day face- to remember that the pain can only be as big as the love, and that that makes it feel just a little less scary.
You may or may not know the Pug on Instagram named Noodle– he was the “bones or no bones” pug. And him and his Dad brought so many people so much joy just from the little videos they put out into the world. Well, I just saw a couple days ago that Noodle passed. His Dad got on Instagram and, in a very teary video, shared the news. Watching it, I began to tear up too, because that kind of pain feels SO close to home, but one thing he said really stuck with me. He said, “It has been the honor and the joy of my life to be Noodle’s Dad.” As sad and in pain as he was, he ultimately would not have changed one single thing because he got to spend a part, a very wonderful part, of his life with him. He got to be his Dad.
Yes, losing a loved one hurts- a lot. There’s no way around it. Unless you choose to never love anything at all. But what kind of life is that? It’s funny how things can only hurt when we really care. Feels like a cruel way to set things up, but I get it. It’s a lesson. In acceptance. In letting go. In trusting that, even when we throw all caution to the wind and love like nothing bad will ever happen and then we suffer a loss and are beyond heartbroken and don’t know how we will ever go on, that we can. And we will. And we’ll be better for it. That choosing to feel everything is absolutely worth it, because the opposite just doesn’t quite do it for us.
Moo is getting older and it’s hard for me to accept that now, at vet appointments, things don’t always come back normal. That there’s little red flags here and there and things to watch for like to make sure she’s eating and drinking and peeing and playing. That she’s happy and comfortable and being herself.
So today I tied a hair tie to a string, brought her up to our room, closed the door so it would just be me and her, and we played. And she was just as interested and agile and playful as she’s ever been. Yes, it hurts to think that she’s getting older, but the knowledge of this presents us with an opportunity to have more intentional, meaningful time together.
So that’s how we approach it. This pain that comes with such great love. With the knowledge that this all one day will end. We will never get this moment back. So we dive right in and soak it all up and marinate in it. One day the time will come for a goodbye, but that day is not today. And instead of anticipating when that day will be, let us focus on the love, right here, in this moment.
There is so, SO much of it. Yes, maybe just as much as the pain that comes with it, but remember that the pain can only be as big as the love. And if that love is bigger than you could ever articulate, then you, my friend, are very lucky, and that love is inarguably and *paws-itively:)* worth it.
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