Goodbye, My Pet

Chloe

For the past few weeks, I’ve been avoiding friends, ditching work, ignoring phone calls, and staying curiously silent in terms of writing. The reason? Chloe, our beloved Persian pictured above, died last Sunday. It was a blow to both The One and me, especially since we weren’t with her when she passed. The only good that came of it was that she took the decision of putting her down out of our hands. It’s as if she knew we—especially me—were simply incapable of doing it.

But right now, it seems as though the grief and mourning is bottomless.

It wasn’t just Chloe’s death that has caused me to crawl into bed and to sleep 10, 11, even 12 hours at a time. It’s also the diagnosis we just received for one of our other cats, Raja, pictured below. When Emmy, our vet tech, noticed a foul smell coming from his mouth, she thought it was an abscess, and we made an appointment to see the vet. After exploratory surgery, she found he had squamous cell carcinoma in his gums and that it had infiltrated his jaw. The surgeon removed as much as he could, but we were warned that it would return. Two days ago, Raja started bleeding from his mouth. Yesterday he didn’t eat. Tomorrow we see the vet. And most likely this week we will have to put him down.

Raja

If you’ve never had pets, you’ll never understand what I’m about to say. The pain is as tremendous and soul shaking as if it were happening to a family member, because that’s what beloved pets are: family. A friend, someone who has since passed, once said to me, “The death of a pet is like the death of a child. But unlike a child who grows up and leaves, a pet comes to you dependent and needy and leaves the same way. They age, but they never grow up.” It’s true.

This is all a long way of saying I’ve stayed away from The David Blahg because writing funny posts with pretty pictures feels so deeply inauthentic to me and insulting to my dear cats. My mind isn’t working. I can’t even cast about for the words to express the pain I feel. Metaphors, similes, allusions, and onomatopoeia aren’t my allies at the moment. It’s as if my brain is dried, cracked earth from which no life can spring. I struggled writing even this post. I kept asking myself, What does this have to do with food? And the answer is: everything. And not in the way you think. It has to do with stuffing my emotions. I’ve eaten everything in front of me. I’ve binged on potato chips, ice cream, pie, peanut butter, doughnuts, tuna fish, hot dog buns, Cheddar cheese, alfajores, honey, and crackers (including some stale oyster crackers from last Christmas) while I wept on the couch. I’m not even remotely okay without munching on something. I’ve gained at least 10 pounds over the past few weeks. Lettuce and carrots simply aren’t sufficient ballast.

I know the pain will lessen in time, as it has for the other eight pets I’ve lost over the years. And in time I’ll be able to write about my homemade butter and my sour-cherry pie and my new kitchen and my swanky knife drawer—all those things you’ve seen on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. It takes so much less thought and energy to click a button on a cell phone and take a picture than it does to string words together that matter. So be patient; I’m here. I’m just heartbroken.

UPDATE: We put Raja down on July 17th. He went very peacefully, cradled in The One’s arms. Although it was terribly hard, I preferred it to Chloe’s dying alone, as we’d made a promise to our cats that ours would be the very last faces they saw. I’m at peace that we were able to do that for Raja. Our vet, the miraculous Kim Rosenthal, and Emmy, our vet tech, were so kind and respectful of our feelings. We thank them immensely. And we thank you, too, for all your support.

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Comments

  1. Dearest David and The One,
    Please know you are so very right in your belief that our pets are more than animals, they are a wonderful part of our life. They are giving and forgiving, loving unconditionally, attentive when we are down to only lift us back up with their purrrrrrrsonalities. They require only 2 things out of life, food and love. Whether a cat or a dog, they are our extended family and most time our immediate family. Have a bad day? Just go home and who meets you at the door, but your loved one purring or wagging the tail just to say I missed you and am so glad you are home.
    You sweet Chloe and Raja will be missed and have left a hole in your hearts, but just know you did the very best for them and they are so much luckier than many animals out there, they were loved. And you are better people having had that love. People who have never had an animal to love, don’t know what it is like when they are no longer there.
    Although we have another loved one, my sweet boy died 3 years ago and I still find myself weeping for him. Each one has their own place in your heart. Whether you try to fill that hole or not, there will always be special emotions that run through your veins at the sound of that lost love one. You have wonderful memories and it will get easier. Be Blessed.

  2. Wanting to know how you David, are doing in your grief? Any suggestions from The One to we, the on-line readers? How can we lessen David’s sadness and gently lift his spirits?

  3. David, my condolences to you and The One. The love given and received by pets is like no other. I know they will be in your hearts forever, as they should be. Be gentle with yourself during this hard time. We are all here for you.

  4. Your poignant and painful tribute to your faithful companions has me crying. Only last month I had to make a decision for my 17 year companion Mz Mini Juliet to find final slumber. She was in great distress but still came to me when I entered a room and tried to follow me around. I had to step outside of my own need and desire to have her and do what was best for her. I’m sorry for your grief. May your heart open to another when it is ready.

  5. David, I am so heartbroken for you and the One. In past years, I have also experienced the departure of beloved furbabies and can sympathize with your overwhelming sadness and grief.. The first days, the pain was inconsolable and the tears never-ending. Over time the pain does lessen, but the magic, love and memories of our beloved four-legged child/family member, will never fade. They live in your heart – always. Keeping you and the One in my thoughts as you heal from your losses.

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