My cat, Princess, died today and I haven’t stopped crying since.
I know for many people pets are just pets. They come and go, but Princess was a part of my family. A very small family. It is just me and my daughter and our pets. There are not many in my circle. Truthfully, I tend to be a loner. Quiet. Introspective. Writing is a very insular job. I spend most of my time alone. But in the stillness, I feel at peace.
What many people do not know about me is that as vocal as I am in my writing and poetry, I am a very introverted person, and Princess fit right in with my lifestyle. She was not an erratic cat, didn’t demand much of anything but food, water and lots of head rubs. Ironically, I am allergic to cats, but I loved her just that much that I kept my medicine cabinet stocked with Allegra, Zyrtec, Benadryl, eye drops and nasal sprays. Itchy eyes and a stuffy nose were nothing compared to our closeness. We just fit together, meshing seamlessly.
I had Princess for 16 years. For 16 years, she has been by my side, in 4 homes, one marriage, and subsequent divorce, every stage of my daughter’s education from elementary school to college and a multitude of other milestones. She was by my side when my father died. She was faithfully right next to me in my bed as I typed every single book, every line of poetry, every blog. She outlasted jobs that I thought would last forever, friendships that I thought would endure the test of time and even relationships that I thought would last an eternity. Princess saw me at my best and my worst. And nothing changed the way she reacted towards me. From the moment, I woke up until the second I went to sleep, she was there. No judgment when I failed. No condemnation when I was not at my best. She just loved me for me. And I haven’t met anyone, person or pet, that has loved me unconditionally.
It was painful to watch Princess get older. She moved slower. Was not the spry kitten I had brought home years ago. She slept longer, ate less, seemed even more attached to me than normal. But I was determined that I was going to be there for her like she was for me. I moved her items into my room, bought her new food, kept the lights low and the volume on the TV down. I would help her in and out of my bed, the only place she wanted to be. Some days I would wake up, and she would be sleeping on my pillow right above my head.
I watched as her personality shifted. She was older and with age came sickness. I loved her and didn’t want her to suffer; I made the painstaking decision to take her to the vet see if I had to put her down. We called the vet and made the appointment. I bought her, her her favorite food, determined that if this was our last day, she would have a wonderful last day. But when I took her to the vet, they did her blood work and said outside of her blood pressure; she was a healthy cat. Not a young cat, but healthy. They prescribed her some medication for her blood pressure, and I was thrilled. I didn’t know how much longer we would have together, but I believe everyone, even pets, deserves a chance. Maybe this was our second chance to have just a little more time together.
But when I brought her home she just wasn’t herself. She struggled to stand, seemed extremely lethargic, had no desire to eat or drink anything. So, I placed her on my bed and put pillows all around her just in case she tried to get up and fell. I didn’t want her to fall out of the bed. I laid next to her and rubbed her head. Told her she was going to be okay. Because I believed she would. Or maybe I just wanted to believe because I couldn’t imagine my best friend not being here. I couldn’t imagine coming home, and she wasn’t there to greet me. I couldn’t imagine typing on my computer, and she wasn’t right next to me. I slept next to her until I heard her breathing deeply and I woke up, and she threw up, took two deep breaths and died. Right there. Right next to me. And I just rubbed her back and told her it was okay. The same way we spent every day, together, we stayed together until she took her last breath.
I loved Princess more than I can ever say. She was my friend. And I hope that I was a friend to her and that she knew how much I loved her.
I imagine if there is a Heaven, she is there, running, playing, and happy, waiting for me, until I see her again.