Grief

8 Nov

I sit outside, sun down, floodlights on, and watch my toddler cram fallen leaves into the cab of his toy dump truck.  When the week started, the leaves were still on the maple trees.  By week’s end, many lay on the ground, having fallen in their annual ritual.  It seems a fitting end to this week of sadness, as if the trees are crying leafy tears.

P1060304 P1060308

The whole household is grieving.  How do you explain to a toddler the concept of heaven?  He asks for his cat, and there is no explanation he understands.  He just knows the cat is gone.  Our Ninja Cat roams the house, searching Doogie’s favorite hiding places, calling to his brother and getting no answer.  He spends his days plastered to my side, curled in my lap in the moments I sit, snuggled into me when I sleep at night.  He runs to us and looks relieved when we return home after leaving him alone for a while to run errands.  He doesn’t know how to be an only cat.

I wrestle with the decision of life or death.  Did we do the right thing?  Should we have waited to see if he got better?  The idea of putting a suffering creature out of its misery is a noble one…until you have to make the decision yourself.  Humans aren’t meant to play God, and it’s good that we aren’t allowed to make these sorts of decisions for each other.  

My husband sees my pain, feels my wet tears as he holds me.  He reassures me that what we did was right.  He even says that he made the decision, so I need not feel the pressing guilt that threatens to crush me.  In my head, I know he’s right.  But my heart.  Oh, my heart.  How deeply it hurts.  Doogie was my baby, the sweet, spunky kitten I chose over 14 years ago to join our family.  The kitten who won over our crotchety tabby cat.  The little cat who accepted Ninja willingly when our tabby died, and we brought a new brother home.  The cat who seemed to shrug his little shoulders when we brought Alex home from the hospital.  He could take anything we threw at him.  But kidney disease did him in.

I wish his last days had been better.  He made Alex cry the day before he died.  We were in the vet’s waiting room, surrounded by other pet owners and their dogs, a toddler he didn’t like getting in his face in his carrier and exuberantly saying, “Hi!”  When Alex stuck a finger in his carrier, Doogie reacted in terror.  A paw came slashing through the carrier bars and smacked Alex.  He didn’t hurt him, but oh my heart, Alex’s face crumpled with the betrayal of it all, then the hot tears came.  I gathered my human baby up in my arms, while saying soothing words to the furry one.

This isn’t the way I want to remember Doogie.

I see something out of the corner of my eye, and I turn, expecting to see a little gray-and-white cat.  But it’s just a toy.  Or the laundry basket.  My heart hurts all over again when I remember he’s not here.

We have a board book, Busy Kitties, which Alex loves.  We read it together, and I smile as Alex imitates the cats.  I say something about Ninja, and Alex meows in response.  Then he says, “Doo-ie!”  I ask if he wants to see Doogie.  He nods enthusiastically with a grin on his face.  He has forgotten that Doogie slapped at him.  He remembers only that a Doogie sighting is a thing of excitement.  Doogie avoided Alex as much as possible, but Alex squealed with joy whenever Doogie made an appearance.  I smile and try not to cry as I explain again that Doogie went to live in heaven.  He looks puzzled, but he quickly moves on to something else.

I wash dishes while Steven is upstairs bathing Alex.  Ninja cries.  His meows grow desperate and ever louder.  I call him to me, and he comes, but he looks confused and runs back out of the room.  I see him under a chair, calling out with everything in him.  I come undone because I realize he is wanting Doogie to answer him, and I know that it isn’t coming.  I stop what I’m doing, pull off washing-up gloves, and go to him.  I sit on the floor, drawing him into my lap.  He sinks into me, burrowing his head under my hand, wanting comfort.  His grief is palpable, and I cry with him.  Tell him he’s loved and not alone.  We sit together for a while, and then I go back to my work.  Ninja is quiet.

This is life after loss.  It is guilt, sadness, pain, loneliness.  But it is also joy.  Joy that Doogie no longer suffers.  That he is with his beloved big brother, Calvin, the tabby who ended up adoring him.  My husband reminds me we had 14 good years with him.  He lived long, and he lived well.  We have so many happy memories of him, and they will come back to me when I’m less encumbered by the weight of fresh grief.

And then there’s the joy in knowing that in a few weeks, we’ll be ready to start all over, choosing just the right cat for our family, one who will win over his or her new big brother and steal our hearts.  Just like Doogie.

P1050149catsasstuffedanimals

Advertisements

One Response to “Grief”

  1. Kameron November 9, 2013 at 12:42 AM #

    (((Hugs)))

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

%d bloggers like this: