This post originally appeared on the blog May 2, 2014.
Since then, as many of you know, my darling girl has gone to the Bridge. And yet, she is very much alive in my heart.
Today marks the one year anniversary of carrying her to the threshold of her departure. What more can I say than her living — and dying — changed me as a person? Profoundly changed. Transformed. I am more deeply human, for having loved and lost, and endured. Today, I honor the whole of our experience together. It goes on. Just as your loved ones go on, in you.
Nothing can destroy love like that. Not ever. So hold fast to that truth, and Corgi On my friends. Corgi On.
Once upon a time, I didn’t like cats. Not so much dislike as misunderstand them. Thought they all looked alike and had no personality. (Ha!) Dogs were IT for me. In my short-sightedness, I was firmly on the dog side of the fence, no budging. No way.
As those of you well acquainted with cats know, I couldn’t have been any more wrong about them. I also didn’t know I could love both dogs and cats with equal fervor. That my heart was vulnerable to takeover by a cat.
Imagine that! Life has some delightful surprises.
One gray feline in particular has been happily proving me wrong for over eighteen years now. Kitten Girl handily maneuvered me into line. From the lynx-like tips of fur on the tops of her velvety ears to the extra toes on her mitten-y paws, she fixed me firmly to her in no time flat.
Have I enjoyed it, this servitude? Frankly, I have loved it. But lately, there have been moments when I hate it. Because loving somebody in pain, the kind of pain you can no longer do anything about, hurts.
Just plain hurts. And it’s scary, too. Many of you know.
So this is the shuffle of the deck these days. My battle-weary cat has lived with kidney disease for over two years. Hyperthyroid for over three. Arthritis that’s laid claim to her muscle, making walking without a tremble or sway difficult, and I honestly don’t know how much she hurts. She hides it well, as cats do. I can touch more of the tiny architecture of her bones now, as there is little more than skin and membranes between my fingers and her ribcage, spine, hips. Although she is still eating and drinking and occasionally purring, hers is no longer a life of full dignity.
And dignity is what she deserves.
She and I had “the talk” yesterday. Yes, that one. The one you have when you have decided to release your animal to the Bridge, to free them from their pain. When they have had enough of it, and you can finally see far enough past your own hair-raising fear to glimpse reality. And your profound responsibility to this creature, who has given everything they have to give.
Yes, I have had 18.5 years with her. Many parents send their kids to college at that age. Me, I’m sending mine somewhere else entirely. If anybody tells me one more time that I was lucky to have all those years with her (I already know that, but she’s going — did I mention that?), I will have to spit in their soup. This is my kid, and after tomorrow, I won’t see her again on this earth.
I know I’ve been lucky, and I still am. Very blessed, actually. And I am grateful. But watch your soup! For a while, anyway.
Tomorrow afternoon, I will present her frail body for the last time to my wonderful vet. I will hold Kitten Girl in my arms as her pain, worries and breath fade away, feeling my kiss on her head, hearing her mother’s tender words.
I have to believe that her lovely soul will fly free.
I hope to see some sign.
I did ask for one.
“My life flows on in endless song,
above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the clear, though far off hymn
that hails a new creation … “
(My Life Goes On)
Eva Cassidy did a wonderfully soulful rendition of this song. You can listen here.
The blog will not publish next week, in honor of my beloved girl’s passing. I have no idea what life without her looks like anymore, and it will take a while to adjust. My inner compass will find a new North at some point.
Thank you for being with me on this journey.
Most sincerely yours,