2016 ended with a bang for me. Unfortunately, it was not that of fireworks or a champagne bottle. My sweet, handsome 15 year old cat, Noche, had to be put to sleep. His kidneys were failing, and despite many tests and treatments, the vets still weren’t sure what was going wrong and couldn’t stop it. My heart felt like it was ripped out of me. Just 2 weeks prior Noche had gotten a great bill of health from the vet. As an older kitty, he had his share of health conditions, but they were being treated, and he seemed to be doing great. Imagine my shock, then, when we were out of town for the holidays, and my pet-sitter called to say Noche wasn’t eating. Thus began a week long roller coaster of vet phone calls, appointments, debate about whether to come home early, hospitalization, improvement and then rapid decline, all of which ended with my husband and I sitting at the vet’s office on the last day of the year holding my very sick boy for the last time.
I am crying as I write this. I miss him so much, and I still can’t believe that he’s gone. I also realize that as a highly sensitive person, I feel these emotions intensely. As an HSP and a therapist, I find myself noticing my feelings and naming the stages of grief as they come and go. “If only he could come home again, I wouldn’t complain when he wakes me up at 5am to be fed”--oh, there’s the bargaining. “This is so unfair and doesn’t make any sense!” Hellooo, anger. Then, sobbing. Yep, the obvious. But then, numbness. Oh yea, denial. The judging part of me gets a kick out of that one, “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you crying? Don’t you even care? You should be ashamed for not feeling more.” Sometimes all this insight is incredibly annoying. Other times, I’m just exhausted from the grief. It all sucks.
I even notice that I’m starting to feel guilty for writing words that might bring you down. I don’t want my blog to be a sad place. I have to remind myself that it’s important to give words to experiences like these. As much as life can hurt sometimes, it is a part of being alive. I am grateful that I got to share so many years with Noche. He was with me during times of tremendous change in my life, and he was my faithful companion all along the way. Often, pets know us and walk through life with us in ways that no other human beings do, which reminds me of how interconnected we are all. I loved Noche for Noche, and I loved Noche for who he was to me. Initially, this can sound selfish, but really, isn’t this just part of being relational creatures? Aren’t all relationships about both the other and ourselves? I think this is part of our beautiful humanity. I’m glad to be a social being.
I do hate that loving others means we risk getting hurt--perhaps even means we will inevitably be hurt again . . . and again. It strikes me how neither can exist without the other. We cannot love without risk. Relationships can go awry or come to an end in all sorts of ways. Loving can mean losing. And losing may be some of the darkest, most painful moments we have to traverse. But, would we give up love to stay safe? To not hurt? I, for one, vote hell no! I loved my time with Noche and have so many memories--funny, annoying, sweet, hard--with him that I will hold on to. He was a huge part of my life, and my heart aches without him. But I would not give up the ache because it would mean missing out on the love.
I wish all of us well in times of grief and in times of joy. For anyone experiencing grief or for anyone who has grieved, my heart goes out to you. May we be comforted during the hard times, and may we be kind to our experience and to the struggles of being alive.
To my Noche, may you be happy and healthy and free somewhere over the rainbow. As you’ve guessed, my boy is pictured above.