And maybe that makes me one of the lucky ones, but it doesn't make my loss any less painful. My sweet cat, Pekoe, passed away on Saturday night. I am truly, utterly, inconsolably, irrevocably devastated. I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest, stomped on, kicked, bruised beyond recognition, then handed back to me as if I could possibly go on living my life as if no tragedy ever befell it. I know what you may be thinking, he was just a cat. But that was inconsequential. He was so much more...and then some. He was a beautiful soul, the likes of which I had never met before, nor expect to encounter again. He radiated love; it poured out of every part of him. He couldn't contain it, nor did he care to try. He loved to love and he loved to show his love. And I must admit, he made me feel more loved and cared for than the majority of human beings I've come across in my 32 years of life. He would look at me as if I was the only person that could ever possibly matter in this world. And if I didn't matter to anyone and only mattered to him, it would be okay, because that could be enough. But it wasn't just me, he had that affect on everyone. Though, him and I did have a special bond, one that only grows from being the person that brought him home all those years ago. I was the one who picked him out of the litter of four boys because he looked just like our other cat Banjo and because he was the only one that ran to me when I opened the cage. We were meant to be, him and I. Meant to find each other, meant to be in each other's lives. He was the most wonderful cat, more wonderful than I could have designed him to be if I tried.
And he had wisdom in his eyes.
He never had that vacant, just-give-me-food-and-I'll-leave-you-alone stare; the wheels were always turning. I swear, I know it sounds silly, but I had deeper conversations with an animal that can't even speak than I have had with some people. When I looked into his eyes, there was just a 'knowing'. I can't explain it, but I sensed that he knew me, knew my heart, knew my soul.
And he was a gentleman.
He would always let the other cats in our household eat before he did. He would patiently sit and watch as they gobbled up food as if their lives depended on it, then casually stroll over when it was his turn. He had patience.
And he was welcoming.
When Indiana, our 11 year old female tabby, found her way into our lives via wandering into our backyard one Spring afternoon, Pekoe welcomed her with open arms, literally. He became like a father to her, a brother, a best friend. They would lie together cuddling, Indy in Pekoe's arms. When they got older, this bond changed a bit, and while they may have stopped the beyond adorable cuddle-fests, it was obvious there was a camaraderie there; a kitty love that only they could understand. When my husband and I moved in with my folks a couple years ago in order to save money to buy a home of our own, along with us came our 4 year old calico kitty, Munchkin. While Pekoe wasn't a fan of Munch's incessant need to get right up in his face, and may have smacked him a few times to show it, Pekoe tolerated him the way an older brother tolerates a younger, slightly annoying little brother. And there were many times we'd find them sitting on the chair in my parents bedroom together, "Pekoe's Chair," Pekoe in the chair and Munchkin on the ottoman, snoozing the day away, peaceful as can be.
(Pekoe and Indy in happier times.)
I could go on and on. He was THAT special. But all I want is answers. Why did this have to happen? How is it possible that he was a living, breathing kitty one day...and gone the next? How am I to cope with knowing that he's in the freezing ground, all alone in the dark, without me there to comfort him? How did we not have any signs that he was falling ill? How can God do this to me? I have so many questions that I feel as if my head is going to explode from the pressure. But in the end, there is really only one question that I desperately need answered...
How do you say goodbye?
I am at a complete loss as to how I say goodbye to this wonderful creature, my best friend, my baby. I have to fight the urge to go dig him up and cradle him in my arms, beg and plead with him to come back to me. I've never experienced loss of this magnitude. And like I said, if this is the worst thing I've experienced at age 32, than I guess I'm lucky. I know there are so many atrocities that happen in this world, the loss of my sweet Pekoe seems so small, so insignificant. My mind tries to think this. But my heart...my heart. My heart can't comprehend that I will never see him again. That I will never get to look into his eyes and feel the warmth of love staring back me. To say I am devastated is almost laughable, this is so much more than that. Mostly because there is so much I don't understand.
We didn't get a straight answer as to what happened. He had been fine all week, his usual slow-moving, head-butting, love-bug self. So when my Mum found him, sitting in her closet in the dark Saturday morning, we all thought maybe he had just eaten something that didn't agree with him. His breathing was off, and that scared me, but there was no way that it was life-threatening! He was fine yesterday! We took him to the emergency vet and they immediately said he needed oxygen. What? And that his lungs were filling up with fluid but "we're not sure why because he's in too bad a shape, that even giving him an x-ray to find out what's going on may throw him over the edge." What the fuck? My cat is on the verge of death? How the fuck did this happen? I can't bear to write more about the rest of the story, but needless to say, it didn't end well. There was no happily-ever-after.
But I'll tell you this.
In his last moments he was completely and totally surrounded by love. My Mum, my Dad, my brother and myself. We gave him all the love we had in us as he faced death, as he had given to all of us when he was alive.
And I will never regret that.
I regret a lot of things. I regret that I didn't sense his distress. I regret that I was too damn busy with finals last week to spend much time with him. I regret that I didn't find him on Friday night and wish him good night and tell him that I love him, one last time, when he was still the Pekoe that I have known for almost 13 years, before he succumbed to his illness and he was lost to me forever.
But I don't regret being there when he left this life. When Banjo passed away 5 years ago, I couldn't bring myself to be there. I didn't want to remember her that way. How selfish I was; I was worried about the effect it would have had on me and I let her leave this world by herself, with no one to hold her paw as she passed. I will never do that again. I didn't hesitate with Pekoe; I knew I had to be there until the end. Because that is just what you do for those you love. I held his paw and looked into his eyes and told him how very much he was loved. And he knew, I know he did. All I can think of since is this quote from Steel Magnolias:
"There was no noise, no tremble, just peace. Oh god... I was there when that wonderful creature drifted into my life and I was there when she drifted out. It was the most precious moment of my life."
Yes, it was the most precious moment of my life, as well as the most heart-breaking, the most tragic. But I told my sweet boy how much he was loved and he looked me in the eyes. Maybe that was our goodbye, the best we both knew how.
Dearest Pekoe Bean, my sweet boy, my boo, my honey dew. I love you and miss you with every ounce of my soul. Please wait for us at the Rainbow Bridge. We will go into the next life together. Until we meet again, my darling. xoxo