Good afternoon, everyone,
I am forever thankful that I happened to find this forum, and have spent hours reading the many posts and the compassionate replies, and absorbing the love you all obviously feel for your loved ones. Of all the many feelings I've experienced over the last week, there's not one of them I haven't found in at least one (and usually many more) of your posts and replies. But two things really stand out about what I've read: 1) Pet Grief is absolutely normal, individualized per person, and not a source of shame; and 2) The road ahead could be long, indeed.
Although I can write about him pretty well, I still can't even speak when someone asks me about Chandler just yet. My voice cracks and my eyes well with tears. On June 26, I had to say goodbye to quite possibly the best buddy I've ever had in my life, my 12-year-old orange tabby. More of a dog in a cat's body, Chandler was intelligent, playful, spirited, unbelievably affectionate and quite the nurturer. When he was only a couple of weeks old, he ventured from his mother's guard (I still have his mother, as well as a sister born 10 minutes before he was), found his way to my comforter, climbed up it, and nestled under my chin. This was the loving locale he preferred for the next 12 years. He was by my side nonstop after I was diagnosed with MS and began having mobility issues, he sat by me any (every) time I watched television, he waited for me if I left the room for any reason, and generally was my better half.
A very big boy, Chandler topped out at 25 solid pounds. But in June, I noticed he was getting thinner -- except his stomach, which seemed larger and harder. Hospitalization revealed liver cancer. Two liters (yes, liters) of fluid were drained from him, my big boy now down to only 8 pounds. The vet gave me medicine for him to make him comfortable for whatever time he had left. He perked up the very next day. The vet was quite pleased at his checkup a few days later, so I desperately hoped this meant he'd be with me for a little while yet.
Over the next 2 weeks, Chandler became more increasingly listless. He ate and drank less, and eventually not at all. No meowing, no purring, and what hurt the most is that he didn't even want to be under my chin anymore. On the morning of June 26, Chandler could no longer stand. He cried for me to hold him, so I put him on my chest and we nuzzled one another. I couldn't get him in to the vet until late that afternoon, so I held him for hours.
About an hour before the appointment, Chandler turned his face to me. He stared at me for what seemed like forever, and finally gave me a series of "kitty kisses" before we rubbed our faces together. He then lost responsiveness, went somewhat limp, and just stared at the floor. I like to think that he had been telling me good bye, and that he loved me, before he sort of "checked out". He still wasn't really conscious when I took him to the vet to help him over the rainbow bridge, but I'm not sure if that's better or worse. He felt no pain or fear, that's for sure, but his suffering had so quickly gotten to this that I felt guilty. I held him, kissed him, and cried quietly while he slipped away.
Today, only 10 days later, I'm still in a fog. My heart hurts in unimaginable ways. I've lost my parents and a brother, and have a sister dying of ALS as I write this, but for some reason this grief is on its own plane. It's crushing, it's agonizing, and it's unrelenting - at least right now. I don't know how to move on, but I see the possibilities now after reading this forum. I just need to let myself grieve, and let myself take all the time I need to do it.
Thanks again, everyone. I appreciate all of you so much.