Grief, Mourning and Moving On?

Yesterday Earth Hour. The annual event sponsored by WWF asks people to turn their lights off for one hour on a particular Saturday, has become bittersweet for me.  How exactly is Earth Hour, something aiming to protect the environment and educate people bittersweet? And what does it have to do with cats?

Back in 2009 I took part in my first Earth Hour. I was so excited about it! I made sure everyone in the house turned off all the extra lights and any appliances we had that might be draining power. I then spent an hour using no electricity. Since it was already dark out, I actually spent the time playing with the cats. Considering my cats were 14 at the time, I was surprised that they were actually showing interest in playing.  I particularly remember playing with Sam. I sat on the floor of the dining room with him. I was getting him to pounce on various toys, and he was  pouncing on them around the scratching post. It was a great time with him. We were both so happy when we stopped playing. I remember it so particularly well because a few weeks later  he died.

sam-31

Sam’s motto was “If I fits, I sits.”

My sweet Sam died on April 10, 2009. It was unexpected. He died in his sleep, most likely from a heart attack or something similar. (He had known heart problems.) I was heart broken. Words do not begin to describe how devistated I was at his passing. Perhaps because it was so unexpected, perhaps because he was the first of the three to go, I was traumatized. For weeks after my heart stopped whenever my phone rang and I was not home. Was someone calling to tell me another of my cats died?

I mourned Sam (pictured at the top of this blog and in my icon) for years. Years. It took so long to stop thinking about him every day. It took a few years, but I did finally move past the pain and hurt. I stopped hurting, but I didn’t want to forget him. Whenever I talked about Crash and Muffin, I had to mention Sam. He was one of them. He was part of them. Co-workers, vets, friends, they all knew Muffin and Crash, but they didn’t know Sam. They needed to at least know about him.

Then last year Muffin got sick. It came on quickly and was also unexpected. We first noticed something was wrong with her in early November of 2014. By Thanksgiving she was super sick. Sadly, she crossed over to Rainbow Bridge on New Year’s Eve.  Again, I was heartbroken and devastated beyond words. I’m down to just one now; one of my three beautiful kittens.

muffin-16The wallpaper on my smartphone screen is a picture of Muffin. It’s an adorable picture of my little girl looking at me and enjoying the sunshine.  I looked at the picture and said to myself “God I miss that cat.”  Then it hit me. I don’t really miss her. Not the way I missed Sam. Not the aching, longing hole in my heart missing that I had for Sam in the first  year of his passing. Then I realized that I hardly think of Sam anymore either.  And I felt like a horrible human being.

The first anniversary of Sam’s death was a painful one for me. Now, I have lost track of the number of years since his death. The first anniversary of Muffin’s death was not nearly as hard as I was expecting it to be. Perhaps because I knew I was releasing her from suffering and pain. I hate to admit it though, but it seems longer than just over a year since she passed.

Part of me realizes this is probably a healthy thing, not hurting over the loss of my cats so many years later. Not dwelling on their deaths or the hole they have left in my life. It means I am moving on. I have other cats to care for, other things to do in this life. I know Sam and Muffin would not want me to waste my life being sad over them. And what sort of world would we live in if everyone who lost a beloved companion animal never got over it? Never loved again?

Still, I feel guilty. I feel guilty that I have moved “past”  Sam.  I have a locket that contains pictures of Sam and Poplo, a kitty I provided hospice care for. I used to wear that locket every day. I would clutch it during bad times and ask them for support and guidance. I would tell them I loved them. Now, I don’t wear it about as much as I do wear it.

I don’t think about Sam and I don’t mourn Muffin. I miss them, but I don’t feel the pain of missing them anymore. I am too busy spending my time worrying over Crash and wondering if it is time to send him to  join his brother and sister. I worry about medicating him. I worry about his arthritis. And I feel guilty for thinking about sending him to join his brother and sister. I worry about Sneakers and trying to keep him occupied, helping him burn off his energy.

I hardly look at the memorial shelf I have with their pictures and ashes on it. I find I have a hard time remembering details about Sam’s quirky behavior. I don’t really remember the way Sam looked or felt, I just have pictures to look at. I don’t think about the goofy things Muffin did as much. I remember the way she would climb in my face demanding attention, and paw at me if I stopped petting. I remember some of her other little quirks too. But her cat bed is put away, as are her toys. Neither of them are part of my life anymore. And I want that to hurt. But it doesn’t, and I feel guilty about that.

So tell me friends, you’ve all lost beloved companion animals before. Is this what it’s like? Is this how it feels? I don’t ever, ever want to forget them. I realize though, I can’t live in the past. I have to move forward, open my heart and life to other kitties and make fabulous memories with those kitties.

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