I have always had a difficult time opening my heart to pets. I never held back friendship or love, but getting into my heart takes a lot. It was only been cracked by a handful of cats. Two passed through illness and I held them as them as they were put to sleep, one went out one night and never returned. These losses were difficult but I could get over them.
My most recent came at my own hand.
Accidentally, but still I carry the remorse and regret for my carelessness. Finding her almost a day and half after the accident, I had to piece it all together in my mind which suddenly made it so much more real and painful. She was almost 6.
I am sick to my stomach and cannot forgive myself.
She was about 5 - 6 weeks old, scrawny and sick and a bit wild when she landed at out doorstep. We live in the country and feral cats come and go, she stayed. She adapted and became a wonderful house cat. In recent years I noticed her draw closer to me, crossing that line between being a pet and a companion. I work from home 50 - 70% of the time, even though there are 4 other cats in the house she stood out. Almost always laying on the left side of my pc, rolling over for some petting, climbing onto my lap and trying to chew my ear buds during a conference call or falling asleep and using my left hand as a pillow so I only had my right to work the mouse and type.
She’d typically follow me when I’d play guitar and sit on the chair behind me, eventually making her way down to sit right on the song book I was trying to play from. She had this thing for newspaper, when I would do a crossword puzzle she would come along and sit right on it, with an expression like “what?” Most every evening when watching TV she’d eventually be laying on my chest, getting those pointing claws into another shirt. I loved that she’d always be sleeping in the same spot on top of the cushion of the couch in the parlor or on top of the cat perch with her head on the rail. She would follow you across the room with her eyes, not bothering to pick up her head.
On mornings when the cats weren't sleeping with us, my wife would open the bedroom door and she would be first in, jumping on the bed and planting herself on my chest. I would open my eyes to that orange and white face looking down at me and know that with just a pet she’d starting purring away. If I wasn’t sleeping on my back she would jump to whichever side I was facing and nudge me or lick my arm, or just curl up next to me till I acknowledged her. This entire routine lasted about 10 minutes but it was my favorite.
It has been helpful writing this out, but I know my pain, longing and heavy feeling of lost will be with me for a long time to come. The other cats in the house are a nice comfort, but having your best little friend torn from you so unexpectedly leaves a hole that feels bottomless.