Cats, Animals & Nature · Life Story

Collaboration with a Purpose: Loss – My Cat’s Death, Realisation and Goodbye

collaboration-loss-704x480

Two days ago I wrote about Collaboration with a Purpose, where the topic is loss. Well, the wait is over, because here’s my post! I did promise not to let you all wait for months like movie trailers, right? 😆

Before we start though, a little warning; as you can probably guess from the title, this post won’t be in my usual chipper style. I think it’s really hard to be chipper about loss in the first place (unless it’s the loss of a wallet followed by an epic chase after the thief along the streets like an action movie, but that’s not likely to happen), so for this reason, I’m going to put a [❣❗] highly sensitive people alert; it may not be easy on your hearts. 🙂


Loss

Loss. We all experience it in one way or other, in varying degrees, at varying speeds. It can be something small like losing a pen or a sock (there’s a darn blackhole in my house that likes to eat my pens and socks), or something significant like losing a loved one. It can be something tangible like losing a limb in an accident, or something more intangible like losing one’s self through multiple personality disorder.

But there’s one kind of loss that happens often but I feel aren’t given much thought to – the loss of a beloved pet.

With millions of pet owners around the world, losing a pet should have been something that everyone treats with compassion. But while it’s understandable to take a few days off work for a family member’s death, it’s not when it comes to a pet’s death. We’re expected to take maybe just a day off to settle the paperwork and whatnot and then come back to work the next day looking our usual selves. If we take “too long” processing, someone might say, “It’s just a pet, not your spouse.”

But it’s never just a pet. When we lose our pet, we lose our animal best friend, our companion, our emotion stability, our love radiator. We lose a part of us.

When my cat passed away a few years ago, that was what I felt – I lost a part of myself. And it wasn’t years later that I realised why.


My Story

I had a cat; her name was Emily. She came into my life when I was sixteen, during the peaceful valley of a difficult time when I thought the worst was over… and twelve years later, she left my life severely ill, a premature death.

Death. As with every other difficult situation, I have an avoidant way of dealing with it – I push the event out of my mind until eventually I never think of it, and all that’s left is a flicker of memory followed by a numbness in the heart.

But Emily’s death was very hard on me. For almost three years, I could never recall a memory of her without that deep, heavy feeling at the bottom of my heart, without my eyes stinging with tears that rendered me speechless. For years I could only recall a single memory of her – of the night she died.

That night, she barely moved. She had been ill for weeks, refusing to eat. Despite multiple trips to the vet, they couldn’t find what was wrong with her and only prescribed medicine that didn’t seem to work.

That night, my mother said tearfully, “I think she’s going tonight.”

That night I spent time alone with Emily. I stroked her head that was still, the fur that was rough and dull, the chest that barely rose with each breath. With tears in my eyes, a heavy pain in my own chest, I told her, “I don’t want you to suffer anymore. If you’re only staying because you’re worried about me after you go, don’t. Please don’t worry about me and don’t suffer anymore.”

That night, after I went to bed, my mother and sister spent time with her. They told me later that she was more energetic than she had been, even sitting up and drinking some chicken broth we had for her.

And that night, the eve of Chinese New Year 2014, she passed away.


Grief

That Chinese New Year, we cancelled all plans of visiting relatives and just stayed at home, aside from the brief visit to the vet. A passerby stared as I sobbed.

A few days later, when I returned to work, I pushed these feelings aside to appear my usual self. But when I was at home, I would just silently remain in my room, doing nothing but play video games or read Japanese comics.

This phase eventually ended, and I went back to my usual self. I was “over” Emily’s death. Or so I thought.

Every now and then, a flicker of memory crossed my mind. My heart ached, then my tears welled in my eyes. If I let the tears fall, it triggered a crying session where I couldn’t do anything for a while, so I pushed it away before it even started. I pushed it away because I was in the public / with friends / in a situation I shouldn’t be crying. I pushed it away, but I had never processed it when I went home.

It was to the point where all I could recall was the memory of that night. It was to the point where even if I forced my mind to forget and recall a more loving memory, that heavy feeling at the bottom of my heart and the sting in my eyes returned.

It was to the point where all she became were negative memories inside me.

Finally, late last year, I decided I was tainting my memories of her and gave myself a full day alone to go all out. This time I didn’t stop any memory recollection, I didn’t stop any tears. I let everyone come out.


Memories

photo-emily1-400x300
Emily

Earlier I mentioned Emily came into my life when I was sixteen, during the peaceful valley of a difficult time when I thought the worst was over. (I promise that’s a story for another time.) A friendly neighbour gave her and another kitten to us because she already had too many pet cats (a family of tuxedo cats, they really were cute).

This little kitten was such a pretty little thing – fully white with a few patches of brown and black and a little bobtail – that we called her Emily, a name we thought suited a princess. Later on I suspected she was a Japanese Bobtail, but we never confirmed it.

photo-emily2-400x300
The only overhead picture I have of her, she’s all white except for those colours you see. Doesn’t she look like a Japanese Bobtail? And don’t mind the shirt; it was meant for a dog. 😆

She earned her nickname of Scaredy-Cat. The first few weeks she did nothing but hide under the washing machine (turned off) whenever we visited the tiny laundry room we temporary placed her in, refusing to come out until we left. I remember trying to open the door as quietly as I could, so that I could catch a glimpse of her; it did work for a while, but the moment she noticed me, “ZOOM!” she went back under the washing machine.

My first triumph was getting her out when I was in the room. After I entered the room, I sat on the floor and started wiggling a thick piece of string. Her companion (yep, we had another kitten at the same time) was happily playing while she stared with these big, round black eyes. She stared and stared, until she could no longer take it and started joining the other kitten in play. I got her to even stand on my lap! Then I pulled away the string, to see how she would react. She stopped. She stared. Then “ZOOM!” she went back under the washing machine.

But in the weeks after, she eventually warmed up to me. More towards me than the rest of the family, because I discovered she loved the cat vitamin that the vet gave (the toothpaste-like kind that apparently tastes like meat) and gave her a bit to lick whenever I could. Eventually she became “my” cat, not “the family’s” cat, though the whole family loved her too.

Now that she was more relaxed with us, I learned more and more about her. She had a high gentle voice that her meow came out as “mrau?” instead (yes, question mark included) whenever she asked for something. Every time she gave those big, round eyes as she “mrau?”-ed for food or to come into / go out of the room.

photo-emily3-400x300
She definitely wants something.

Like all cats, she had her own quirks. She loved to play with strings, but couldn’t be bothered to play with balls or toy mice. She loved to sleep on my bed (until I accidentally kicked her  at nighttoo many times), or on the three-seater sofa. She loved chicken, but fried fish not so much. She loved sitting on papers and files placed on the bed or sofa seat, for some funny reason.

As a scaredy-cat, she didn’t often venture outside, but sometimes I caught a glimpse of her sneaking under the two little plants we had outside. She liked hiding under things (like on the chairs under the dining table), but she didn’t like being on high place like the countertop.

Sadly, she wasn’t really a lap cat. If I sat on the sofa and put her on my lap, she always got off and instead lie down on the sofa next to me, so we called her a sofa cat. The only time when she was a lap cat was when I was sitting on the toilet, and she always gently gripped my knees as I stroked her back. Why she was in the toilet, I never really knew.

photo-emily4-400x300
Yep, she usually slept like this, with her pink belly exposed. 😆

Emily was always a loving cat; she always, always purred when I stroke or carry her and never rejected me.She always came when I called her from my bedroom, though it usually took her around 3 minutes to come upstairs from the living room; I imagine she was probably asleep on the couch, woke up at my voice, yawned, stretched, then slowly made her way upstairs to my bedroom.

 


Realisation

photo-emily5-400x300
The last photo we took of her in 2014 before she became ill.

During my depression, she was the one light that was always shining in my dark life. Although she wasn’t the type to come to me when I was sad or crying, she always waited for me to reach out to her and purred. Although I wasn’t the one who fed her, she always came to find me whenever I came home from work, peeking from the corner of the wall or from between the railings upstairs. She always took interest whenever I did something on the floor (like paper filing) and “mrau?”-ed from the top of the bed.

It was only late last year, when I was processing her memories, that I realised.

My cat came into my life to teach me love.

Love was something foreign to me at the time – or rather, my mind knew what love was, but my heart didn’t. My family never exchanged greetings, hugs or kisses, and we usually talked from a distance. We don’t ask “How are you?” or “How did the [something] go?” but instead go straight to our rooms.

And there she was, Emily, who was always peeking at me, purring when I reached out for her.

She came into my life to teach me love. The idea cemented in my mind when I realised the timing of her death.

She died on the eve of Chinese New Year on Thursday, 30 Jan 2014. That was around the time when my then-boyfriend, now-husband was discussing about marriage, a whole nine months before he proposed to me.

It was as though she was saying, “Well, my role is done. Now I trust that your husband-to-be will love you as much as I do and continue to be your support.”

She came in to my life to teach me love, and she passed the torch over to my husband for me to continue to love.


Goodbye

I think after this post, I can finally close this chapter of my life. Not as in forgetting, but accepting – I will always remember her, the loving little cat that always forgave me no matter what I did (like putting her in that shirt she never liked, but it was cold in the air-conditioned room).

I think I can finally say goodbye, three years later.

Here, I’m sharing a song from a video game (haha, always with the games, aren’t I?) that I feel suits this perfectly. It’s called “Reset”, the ending credits song from the game Okami, a game based on Japanese mythology (definitely suits a Japanese Bobtail cat, even if we didn’t confirm it 🙂). I’ve pasted both the Japanese and English-translated lyrics below, which has the perfect message.

Reset, from Okami by Hirahara Ayaka
Japanese lyrics | English-translated lyrics (from AnimeLyrics)

Chiriyuku hanabira ga
Machi o irodoru kedo
Saigo no toki na noto
Kaze ga oshiete kureta

Scattered flower petals
Coloured the town
But the wind told us
That this would be the last time

Kisetsu wa meguru kara
Shinpai wa iranai to
Ano toki yokogitta
Tsuki ga terashite kureta

The moon that crossed the sky then
Shone down to say
That the seasons always change
So there’s no need to worry

Itsumo onaji namida bakari nagashi tsudzukeru
Nakusa nakereba
Kidzukanai kara

We always shed the same tears
You don’t realise what you have
Until it’s gone

Tada hitotsu negai ga kanau no nara
Kinou no jibun ni “Sayounara”
Kawaranai omoi ga aru no naraba
Itsuka sakura no shita de

If I could have just one wish
I would say “Goodbye” to who I was yesterday
If my feelings don’t change
I’ll see you someday, beneath the cherry trees

Ano hi no yakusoku ga
Iro asenai you ni
Yubi de nazotte miru
Asa no mabayui hikari

So that the promise we made that day
Will never fade away
I’ll trace with my fingers
The brilliant morning light

Hitotsu toshite onaji toki wa otozurenai kara
Mou mayowazu ni
Saki e susumu no

The same moment will never happen twice
So I can go forward
Not lost anymore

Taisetsu na inori ga todoku you ni
Kyou mo utai tsudzukete yuku
Sagashiteta kotae wa kitto aru to
Sotto oshiete kureru

To send my deepest prayers to you
I’ll keep on singing today
If the answers I seek are out there
Please kindly let me know

Tada hitotsu negai ga kanau no nara
Toki o koete todoketai
Kawaranai omoi ga aru no naraba
Itsuka sakura no shita de

If I could have just one wish
I would like to reach across time
If my feelings don’t change
I’ll see you someday, beneath the cherry trees

Taisetsu na inori ga todoku you ni
Kyou mo utai tsudzukete yuku
Sagashiteta kotae wa koko ni aru to
Sotto oshiete kureta

To send my deepest prayers to you
I’ll keep on singing today
If the answers I seek are right here before me
Please kindly let me know

Kanashimi o RISETTO shite

Reset the sadness

photo-emily6-400x300
She always looked so relaxed when she slept. 🙂

Emily, my beloved cat, thank you. Thank you for coming into my life and teaching me love. Thank you for loving me as I am, flaws and all, so that I can love myself.

Thank you, Emily, and goodbye. I hope we’ll see each other again in my dreams. 🙂

~Nicolle ❤

A Short Self-Compassionate Letter

Dear Self,

I’m really proud of you. Even though it was very difficult for you, you went through with this; it speaks volumes of your strength. And I’m glad that you now love yourself more than you did many, many years ago. ❤


Read more on Collaboration with a Purpose: Loss

Advertisements

51 thoughts on “Collaboration with a Purpose: Loss – My Cat’s Death, Realisation and Goodbye

  1. My furkids play a prominent role on my blog, even to the point of Bandit, our latest rescue dog, having his own update every week.

    I know all-too-well how hard it can be to remember them without pain — and while it gets better, I’ not sure it ever really goes away. Because they are no longer with us, and it hurts, no matter how much time has passed.

    It’s been a bit over a year since we lost Chester. Somehow Bandit really helped me get over the pain I felt, to some degree, but I am still always wistful when I think of Chester, which is daily, and I still miss him.

    There is not time schedule for grief. And I am sure that Emily is happy that you are now happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. YOU ARE QUITE A CHARACTER NICOLE (A GREAT ONE OF COURSE😄😄😄😄😄). I REALLY ADMIRE YOU UNIQUE ABILITY TO SHOW YOUR READERS, THROUGH WORDS, WHAT GOES ON IN YOUR HEART/MIND.

    YOU HAVE TAUGHT US A LOT THROUGH YOU STORY, AND I AM VERY GLAD TO HAVE BEEN ABLE TO LEARN AS WELL.

    YOUR LITTLE (NOT REALLY😄😄😄😄😄) COLLABORATION IS QUITE A MIND CHANGER TO MANY. DO KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

    GOD BLESS YOU.

    👼👼👼👼👼

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much for the kind words! I was a little worried it might be a little long, but I thought, “What the heck!” and went with it. 😆 Glad you love my writing style too. ❤️

      Like

  3. Hey therd
    What a sweet and lovely pet uve got. How i wish it was mine lol
    Actually, this is the first time i have read such a long post about a pet. And i must say its worth reading. I did enjoy every moment of it. Thumbs up

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! This is the first time in my life that I’ve even attempted to read the story of a pet and honestly I have no words to describe how wonderful it was. Even the best movies I’ve watched have never kept me so attached to them.
    Your cat was a gem of a pet and rightly said, she taught you something which was otherwise dormant in you. She must be in heaven now and still looking at you with those lovable huge black eyes and a passionately throbbing heart(if hearts exist in heaven 😜)
    Thank you so much for sharing this really touching story!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thanks for the wonderful compliment! I certainly wasn’t expecting to be compared with the best movies you’ve watched. 😛 And thanks for the kind words too! I hope to dream of her one day with those lovely black eyes and loving heart. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Emily sounds like a very sweet and loving cat, and the pictures were absolutely darling. I agree with you that when you lose a pet, you lose a part of yourself, and people should take that loss far more seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You are most welcome, Nicolle. I was touched by your story (and pictures! Great pics!) of Emily. She was a sweetheart. (I still miss several dogs and cats I’ve been friends with, and I see them as bright, loving souls. We are the richer for knowing them, even though their lives are so terribly short.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Glad that you thought the pictures were great! It’s a bit sad the picture quality aren’t so great on my old phone (and that I don’t have many of them), but at least I have pictures of her. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I love your post. It’s so honest and heartfelt. The pets in my family are just that – family members. You gave Emily a wonderful home. She was lucky you were her family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you loved my post! I was lucky to have her, maybe more so than her having us as family. As I wrote this yesterday, sometimes I wonder if our souls met before we were born and made a promise to be together. 🙂 Thanks for the kind words. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Im really sorry about your cat Nicolle. I never had the privilege of having a pet at home. But reading your tribute to your beloved, I could feel every word. Emily was so beautiful. She was a part of you and now she will be a part of everyone who reads the post ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much and glad you thought it was beautifully written! I was a bit worried as I kind of wrote it the whole day with tears in my eyes, but I suppose I was worried for nothing. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s