You Can Find Love Again
by Susan "Susie Squillions" Lynch © October, 2004
After being sick for about a week, my schedule was turned around. So one afternoon when I hadn't been able to sleep the previous night, I decided to lie down for a long nap. I thought I’d watch a little TV, hoping it would lull me to sleep. I tuned in to Animal Planet to watch Adoption Tales. I figured that would be a "feel good" show, and I would either drift off while watching it, or turn off the TV to go to sleep. That day’s story was about a mother cat and her four babies who were being fostered by a kind family. It was, in fact, a "feel good" show, with a very happy ending.
What I wasn't prepared for was the closing shot of the mother cat in her new home. The camera zoomed in on her face, and (with the exception of her eye color) there was the face of my beloved Bingo looking directly at me through the camera! I instantly felt a bittersweet tug at my heartstrings, as if Bingo had just paid me a visit more than 11 years after making his journey to the Rainbow Bridge, and I began sobbing into my pillow. I felt the same sorrow I had felt when my grief for Bingo was new. Oddly enough, I welcomed the feeling because it showed me that Bingo's place in my heart has never been filled by anyone else, and that I still love him as much as I ever did (if not even more).
We lost Bingo (aka: King Bing, The God Cat) on September 23rd, 1993 after 14 wondrous years with him. On that morning, while my son was at school and I was at work, Bingo ate his breakfast, went downstairs to use the litter box in the basement, and then fell asleep on a pile of our laundry which had yet to be washed. There, surrounded by the smells of our family, he peacefully left for the Rainbow Bridge.
When I returned from work that evening and found him, I knew my heart was broken and it could never possibly heal. Bingo was the defining cat of my life (and my son's), and he had the biggest heart ever. He lived for my son and me, and when my husband (then boyfriend) came into our lives, Bingo accepted him with open paws.
It’s true that Bingo had a big heart. His enlarged heart contributed to his journey to the Bridge. He had been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy five years earlier, so we knew that every day of his last five years was a gift. Every time we went to the vet, he told us what a remarkable job we had done caring for Bingo. Treatment for feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy was pretty much in its infancy then, and up to that point, our vet had not had a patient who had survived more than a few months at best from that devastating diagnosis.
Just one month after Bingo left, on October 23rd, we brought TJ into our lives, and we fell, instantly and hopelessly, in love. TJ seduced us through the grief, and showed us that we could love again. In June of the following year, Buddy joined our family. Many of you know that TJ is still with us, and that Buddy joined Bingo at the Bridge in early April, 2004.
Both TJ and Buddy found their own places in my heart, never intruding on Bingo's spot. I have now learned that no one else will ever intrude on their places in my heart either.
Please believe me when I tell you that it is possible to love again, and to do it well. Don't feel guilty for bringing a new animal into your home and heart. The new one can never take the place in your heart that is held by your Bridge Kid. Your heart will grow to make room for the new one who will snuggle into their own space. No matter how deeply you have loved, you can do it again -- and you should, for your sake, and for the furries who need good homes.
When the time is right, honor your Bridge Kid’s legacy by allowing another animal to make his (or her) own place within you. You'll enjoy every minute of it.
Post Script, March 22, 2008: Since losing Buddy in 2004 we have opened our hearts and home to three more kitties; Stevie Raow Vaughn, Haiku, and Gidget. Haiku was with us for two years and is now back with her original people, but Stevie and Gidget are here to stay. Each of them has enriched our lives and brought us joy as only they could.