Grief is hard, and I need to write about Lucy and how I am feeling, but I am not sure I can do it yet.
I need to write about all the details, how she’s been not quite healthy since January, how it came to pass that we rushed into the vet’s office after dropping That Girl at school yesterday morning, only to have to make the sudden decision that we had to have Lucy put to sleep. I need to write it down, to remember those important parts of her life and our life as a family. But those words haven’t come yet.
I am still feeling raw. It was rough, Monday night and yesterday, coping with Lucy’s sudden illness and then her death. She was my kitty, and I am brokenhearted at her loss.
She was my kitty, just like Opus was my kitty before her. But every cat is different, and Lucy was differently mine. Opus was a larger than life personality; she commanded your attention by her behaviour (and, let’s be honest, also by her misbehaviour). She was open and social, and full of equal parts life and love, and piss and vinegar.
Lucy was different. She was sweet. She was a diva. She was beautiful and sleek and awkward and angular. She was alert and inquisitive and comical and chatty. She was so unbelievably soft. She and I bonded instantly and never let go. She was always wanting a cuddle. She was always seeking warmth: blankets, radiators, the warmth of my lap or my arms.
She was a cat of my heart.
To see her suffering on Monday night was horrible. To hear her crying out in confusion and fear, but then purring the second I put my hands on her, or crawling into my arms to curl up and seek my protection, was more than I could bear. She did not know or understand what was happening to her, and she needed me to stop it. And I could not.
And then, at the vet the next morning, the vet determined that we could, and probably should, stop it. Stop her from suffering any longer. Stop her heart from beating erratically and not beating sometimes and making her faint and doing further damage to itself, and to her brain, and to her body.
And so, without hesitation, but with great heartbreak, we did so. I held my girl while she had a sedative, and she calmed down in my arms. Then, I held her on a nice, soft blanket, and talked to her while she slowly, gradually, fell asleep. She put her head down, chin on my hand as she has done so many times before, knowing I was there to protect and hold her, as I told her how much I loved her and what a great cat she was, and she drifted off to sleep. She breathed her last, and the light in her eyes — those beautiful, big, inquisitive eyes — went out.
I was so sad. It was a perfect passing, in that you wish all deaths could be so peaceful, but that does not make it easier to attend.
I am bereft without her. I keep expecting the thump-thump-thump of her coming down the steps like a rabbit, and seeing that head tilt and the big ears and she peeks around a corner to see if I am there.
It won’t happen anymore.
The house is so quiet and empty without her. It is amazing, and painful, how quickly a pet vanishes from your life. As you go through the house, picking up the bowls they will no longer use, or the blankets they will no longer cuddle up in, and going about your daily life again, they simply vanish from all the spaces they used to occupy. They disappear, so quickly.
Not so from your heart.
My heart hurts without her. I will never feel her unbelievable softness, her hugs, her gentle bites to get me to do what she wants — usually to pet her. I will never again feel her warmth and weight on my lap, my legs, my chest. I will never again put my forehead to hers and give her a scratch on her chest, right between her front paws, while she kneads my arm and purrs in absolute contentment, a peaceful and happy morning ritual.
I will never again have my Lucy to hold, and I am at a loss.
Ending a beloved pet’s suffering is a great act of love and compassion, but it does not help much with the sadness left behind at their loss. No amount of knowing it was the right thing to do eases that feeling of sadness when your friend is gone. There is no filling the space in your life or your heart that that companion occupied, at least in the short term.
In a few days, the sorrow passes. But the love will remain. There is no replacing a beloved friend, but eventually there will be happy memories where the sadness and grief is, and laughter where the tears are.
Until that time, this is goodbye, my Lucy Lu, my sweet, funny girl. Thank you for your love and your warmth and your sweetness. Thank you for choosing me as your girl. I hope you had a happy, contented life. You enriched mine in ways you will never know.