Cat-Shaped Holes

First off, thank you all for your messages of support and understanding. I know I’m not always ready to say much in return, but every word from you guys is helping to make this easier. Knowing you’re out there means a lot to me, and there is also something really special in feeling like other people are moved by Morning, and that in some small way I’m able to share how special he was.

I have heard a lot of repeated, cliche stories about human grief. About how people who have lost someone close to them will wake up in the morning, and for one brief moment everything is happy, and then they remember and it all closes in on them again. About how they will go about their daily activities as if that person will be coming home, and then are suddenly reminded that they won’t. About how it all feels impossible, and part of them keeps expecting that their loved one will be walking back through the door at any minute. About how they have a brief glimmer of happiness about something, and then feel guilty that they are capable of it. About how everything that everyone else talks about seems so trite and frivolous and unimportant.

And they’re all true.

And the loved one doesn’t have to be human.

We got up on our own yesterday. There was nobody waiting patiently until the alarm clock went so that he could purr all over us to wake us up.

I put our leftovers on the kitchen island yesterday. I just left them there for a while. Right in on the edge. Because I knew no curious little furball be coming to investigate them. We could leave them there forever if we wanted to. No one wants to sniff them.

I threw out the eye drops on the counter. Nobody here needs them anymore.

I made tea, and nobody came running. No one thought it was the most exciting thing in the world to get to sniff the tea bag. Nobody wanted to stretch up and put his paws up on the counter to help me. I didn’t have to be careful pouring the water. There was no one there to splash.

I walked into our office yesterday to check the calendar. I didn’t need to close the door quickly behind me, but I did anyway. I didn’t need to feel guilty for not giving somebody some time to explore in there, in what was often our special place. I haven’t been in there much since getting my laptop. Somebody used to miss spending time on my desk. Nobody is missing it now. And when I came out, I didn’t need to keep one foot held out at the ready to discourage anyone from making a quick slip inside. But I did anyway.

I didn’t need to leave room on the couch last night so that someone could climb up there with me. I didn’t need to be careful when I shifted positions because there was nobody there to poke or prod. And because there wasn’t, I kept looking to the ottoman, where usually there would be a little brown furry body, making questioning eye contact with me and giving the special little murp that was a question whether I wanted to shift over a little and make room so that he could join me. The answer was always yes. Always.

A little pile of electronics out of the corner of my eye looked like my sweet boy, and I was going to reach over to pet him. I wondered why he was lying so far away. But it was only electronics. And I was forcefully reminded of that.

I keep calling our girl-cat a “good boy” by accident, and having to correct myself. And I keep comparing them. And feeling guilty that she can’t be what he was.

Nobody startled awake and turned an inquisitive eye on me when I turned on the sound on my laptop. Likewise there was nobody there to keep sleeping blissfully upon being petted, or snuggled, or kissed unexpectedly.

I took some melatonin last night to try to shut down my thinking and let me get some sleep, and I was so careful, like I always am with pills. But I realized it wouldn’t matter if I wasn’t. No one is curious about what they are, or likely is to accidentally sample one if I dropped it.

When I went to bed, I tried to sleep closer to the edge. We don’t need to leave a third of the bed empty anymore. But I moved back to the centre. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to be in his spot in case he wanted to climb up.

When I get up and move around the house to do anything, things keep catching my attention out of the corner of my eye. I keep waiting for the curious little inquiry into where I am going and what I am doing, and for somebody small and brown to come and join me in wherever and whatever it is. But I don’t hear anything.

When I go out today, there will be nobody to say goodbye to me, or to watch out the window as I leave. When I get home, no one will be waiting. Nobody will sit on the stairs until I get my shoes off, or want to sniff my face to say hello.

When I leave the shower, nobody is waiting on the toilet seat for me.

When I leave the bathroom, nobody is lounging on the floor just outside, waiting to see where we’ll go next.

I could wear a sweatshirt today without tucking up the hood strings. I could let them just dangle there. Even shake them around a little. Nobody cares. Nobody wants to play with them, or thinks they’d be great for a good chew. And nobody will be happy to be presented with a toy instead, or decide that a cuddle would be just as much fun.

I sobbed cleaning up the little patch of vomit he left on our floor. It was like wiping away the last traces of him from our home. My husband had to help me. I couldn’t see through the tears.

I can’t believe he’s really gone. That he is really never coming back. I had thought that first night was pretty awful, but it was actually easier than the days since. That night was so full of adrenaline, and shock, and exhaustion, that it was still all very surreal. Without that protection, there is just weight, and pain, and the occasional bout of numbness, and as much distraction as we can manage. At least my husband and I have each other to lean on, and are both going through the same loss. That’s a rare occurrence, I guess. Often when you lose somebody, other people can sympathize but they aren’t going through the same thing at the same time as you. We will get through it. This is only day three. And I recognize this feeling. My old friend depression. I have been here before, and will face it intelligently. I am actually still better off in this moment than I was when my medications were messing with me.

But still, if I could say one thing, I would wish that the image that came to mind when I think of him didn’t have to always be his unnatural still face, lying on that table, once he was dead.

He looked like road kill.

And that isn’t right.

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10 Responses to “Cat-Shaped Holes”

  1. pinkbrain says:

    Don’t worry that final image of him will fade, and you’ll remember only the good.
    I wanted to yell at my cat this afternoon for pooping on my bathmat (yet again), but she got a reprieve. This time. She has Morning to thank for that.
    I’m sorry have a giant hole in your heart where a kitty is supposed to curl up.

  2. IfByYes says:

    I am agnostic by nature – a little too scientific to be very religious – but watching all the euthanasias has me convinced that there must be a spirit or soul. I know what you mean when you say “looking like road kill”. I still have a traumatic memory of my father picking up my first dog when he was euthanized, and his jaw dropping open slackly with a click, in a way that no animal’s jaw does if the yare alive. *shudder*

    BUT the consolation to memories like this, and the many memories I have of preparing the bodies of euthanized patients, is this:

    A dead cat is a totally different thing from a living cat.

    Why is this?

    The body is the same. No molecules disappear upon death. The chemical and physical make up of the body is exactly the same as when the animal was alive… except that it isn’t alive. Yet, the dead animal looks like a totally different creature than the living animal. It’s hard to believe that they are the same creature. The personality disappears from the face, and the cat that moments ago was Fluffy or Mittens or Spot is suddenly… just a dead cat.

    So something must have LEFT. Something CHANGES on death, and it MUST be the soul leaving.

    So that memory of my dead dog is just the memory of a dead dog. Your memory of your precious fur baby looking so still is NOT a memory of your precious fur baby. It’s a memory of his empty shell… Your fur baby wasn’t there. I don’t know where they go, but there is a soul and the body is just what is left behind, like a cocoon or snake skin.



  3. Geege says:

    IfByYes said everything just so perfectly, how can I even comment after her?

    My heart is breaking for you guys right now and I hope you are able to keep strong and find the peace you need. I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling the depression sneaking back in, but so happy that you know what to do in order to kick it’s ass and make things better for yourself.

    Keep your chin up, and when you can’t, just know that you have so many people you can count on.

    xo G

  4. tammy says:

    Oh, C. There is nothing that I can say that will make you feel better. In fact, I don’t really want suggest that you should hurry and feel better, that will come soon enough. I always felt like I didn’t want to feel better right away after a loss. That my loved ones deserved the energy that I devoted to grieving them, that the pain that you feel is a measure of how much you love someone. The deeper that loves carves you out, the more pain fills you. You loved Morning deeply and you grieve deeply.

  5. Becky (aka DrD) says:

    A cat-shaped hole is exactly right. I hate when you think you see them out of the corner of your eye, only to realize that they’re not there. I think that’s the worst. I think about you and Morning all the time now and I want you to heal from this pain but I know it will take a long time. I’m so glad you have your husband there with you and that he understands your pain. Lean on each other and lean on us as much as you can. I wish someone could take the pain away because it seems too much for one person to bear.

  6. SuzRocks says:

    I’m so sorry that you lost your kitty. I can’t even imagine if I lost my puppy- and I wasn’t even that attached to her at first. Just think of all the great times.

  7. Wombat says:

    I still say “hello” to my sweet Annabelle whenever I find a stray yellow dog hair in the house. They seem to appear now and again, and I like to think it’s her way of saying hi to us. Now I can think happy thoughts about her instead of crying. Not that there are no more tears left for her, because there are. There are just far more happy thoughts now.

    It did take a while to wipe away that final image of her that summer night she died suddenly at my feet. Now when we talk about her, we reminisce about the fun we had with her and all the wonderful things we loved about her.

    Hang in there. It does get better with time.

  8. Joanna says:

    Reading about your daily routine–and how it’s not the same routine anymore–allowed me to picture Morning following you around and being your faithful companion. The image was so vivid I teared up on your behalf. I never got to meet him, but I can see what a huge part he played in your life.

  9. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I’m a bit behind on the blog reading or I would have commented sooner. I hope it’s helping to write it down. Hug your husband often.

  10. Curiosity says:

    notquiteawake – I don’t mind at all that your message was delayed. I totally understand. It was really nice of you to comment. And yes, my husband is getting a near impossible number of hugs.

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