Member Rara Avis
Durban, South Africa
CLEO, CLEO, CLEO
Though I really do hope that somebody (preferably more than one somebody) reads this, long though it is, and understands and says so, I understand if nobody does. This isn’t meant to be literature, just grief exploding, oozing, crying, screaming, catapulting, crashing through the walls of my being, and a letter to my soulmate and beloved kitty, Cleo, whom I know reads every word of my thoughts, a letter which I am sharing with you, and unashamedly asking for your sympathy or empathy or understanding or condolences.
Cleo, Cleo, CLEO! My sweet, darling, beloved kitty-cat, when for a moment I couldn’t find you, either inside or outside, I used to start calling you in the normal way one calls a kitty, but when I still couldn’t see you, that turned quickly into shouting for you, and then high-pitched anguished screaming your name, enough to frighten any animal, let alone a kitty-cat, but you who understood the bones of my being, you would come out from where you were not intentionally hiding – a new “housie” – or a favourite old one, often with a little meeow as if to say, “Here I am, Mommy! I’m fine, my darling Mommy, so there’s no need to worry!” BUT YOU’RE NOT DOING THAT NOW! Why? Why? Why, my precious, darling, kitty-koo? Why won’t you appear round the corner and allay Mommy’s anguish? Why won’t you, can’t you, come back from Heaven?
Mommy and Benji can’t cope without you and though the (grownup) kittens don’t know you as well as we do, and though I wish I had integrated you long before I did, I’m glad I did eventually – and they miss you terribly too, especially Meschach.
I don’t regret taking you to Doctie to help you on your way to Heaven, and I’m glad I explained it all to you and what to expect at Doctie’s rooms – and all about meeting Flicka-horse, Tigger-cat, Daisy-dog and Rambo-dog (the doggie who lived round the corner from us) and all Mommy’s furbabies before them – and that I told you that Mommy and Benji and Shadrach and Meshach and Abigail will all join you all in the future each in our own time. As I was saying, I don’t regret helping you to Heaven because you decided last night that it was time and that last night would be our last night together.
As almost always, you slept the whole night through in Mommy’s arms, but quite differently Mommy only dozed from time to time and woke up instantly at your every movement all through that long, short night and answered your every need.
For your sake, Mommy wanted the night to end so that I could take you to Doctie to end your suffering, discomfort and possible pain – but for Mommy’s sake I wanted it never to end, so I could hold you forever.
You who purred most of the time you were within earshot of Mommy, you hadn’t purred since Sunday, preparing yourself and Mommy, on Monday and Tuesday, for your decision and request last night. Your internal organs must have started to fail on Monday, and increasingly so on Tuesday until last night when you made it clear to Mommy that as much as you love Mommy you wanted to go to Heaven.
Mommy and Doctie in these past months tried so hard to make you better, and perhaps that lengthened your happy life a little, but getting you better wasn’t to be. Twelve years is a fair age for a kitty, but Mommy wishes that you had been with Mommy all of your twelve years and not just the last six and a bit.
Losing you ripped and continues to rip my heart into jagged bits of ribbons, but your happiness, relief from suffering, discomfort and possible pain is more important than the searing, unbearable, unrelenting pain of my bleeding heart (that is how much Mommy loves you) and I respect and understand and followed through on your decision and request/
Partly for me, but more for you, and even more for your three furbaby brothers and your furbaby sister, you all said your goodbyes. They needed to know that you were never going to return, and where and why.
But yes, I understand with every jagged edge of my blood-soaked heart that Benji peered expectantly into the air-windows of your wicker kitty-basket when I brought it back this morning. I told him that you were in Heaven now, as I had said you would be. Even when, with the slivers of my heart aching for the three of us, I opened the basket to show him that you weren’t there, he peered in over the top, wanting, WISHING, WILLING you to jump out. I told him that I understood, and wished you were here too. When I closed the basket and carried it (Snowflake’s then Tigger’s, then your basket) to the passage and put it next to the other wicker basket (Snowstorm’s, now Meshach’s), Benji sniffed at the basket, perhaps reading your last messages to him and Shadrach and Meshach and Abigail.
As I sit here in the study on our couch made of two armless armchairs, feet up and Benji next to my lower legs and a very empty space between my elbow and hip where you used to cuddle up to me, even just yesterday . . . and so many more yesterdays, I look through the lounge at the front door, and the sunlight shining in a line underneath it, with the gently moving shadows of leafy branches and I wish with all my severed heart pieces that the shadows were of your little kitty paws and that if I opened the door, you would be waiting there with a little meow to come inside.
Everywhere I go, inside and outside, I imagine you in all your usual and favourite places and I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that NOTHING I do, will bring you back, and I will NEVER see you on Earth again.
My insides are hollow and fragile and screaming. I want my Cleo back. I want to pick you up in my arms and cuddle you and shower you with kisses and tell you how much Mommy loves you and how precious and special all you sweetheart furbabies are, and how each of you has your own forever place in what was, what is left of, and what will again be my heart – and how the pieces of my Cleo-heart place are convulsing, caving in and gasping for breath. Yes, I want, NEED to pick you up and wrap my arms and love around you, BUT I CAN’T.
I am not coping without you and I don’t know what to do – but I don’t regret that your suffering, discomfort and possible pain are over. I’m trying, my sweet, darling angel to cope for the sake of your brothers and sister – and myself too, BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW! AND I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE NOT HERE ANY MORE!
Shadrach is on the piano now, next to Leo, my more than 114 year old lion, where Mommy would put your food dish during the daytime, before you were integrated with the kittens and that warms my heart bits and tears them into even smaller pieces at the same time.
Earlier over the day and evening I forgot a few times – and expected to see you walk into the study from the kitchen or lounge and jump on to my lap – and then there was the sharp icy stab of reality.
I don’t want to go to bed tonight although I didn’t get any proper sleep last night. I am too afraid to be tired, yes afraid. It will hit my even harder, to get into bed without you in my arms.
Today is Freedom Day and you are free my precious, darling, sweetheart, Cleo – and for that I am glad, but I am not free. I am contorted into a bundle of aching muscles; my head is still pounding and my eyes are still swollen from the sobbing and sometimes quieter tears.
I wrote the above paragraph in bed this morning, too afraid to take Benji out (aside from the first time on his own to do his business) as it won’t be Benji and you and me – but I know I must because Benji, Shadrach, Meshach and Abigail need to start their day.
I eventually went to bed last night, mainly for Benji’s sake, but also my own. You will be pleased to hear that Benji ate about an eighth of his Sunday breakfast last night before we went to bed, so the Gastropect is working – perhaps knowing that you are resting in peace helped a bit. And this morning he ate almost all the rest – just left 9 pellets. I think he may finish those today and get and finish supper tonight and breakfast tomorrow.
I was surprised to have slept, I think from minutes after I got into bed, until just after 7am. (I had turned off the five phone alarms and their three minute Snooze alarms because Benji’s three lots of Gastropect would easily fit into our waking hours.) I awoke with wet eyelashes. I vaguely remembered my dream when I woke up, but have forgotten those bits already, just that it was complicated. Strangely I am fairy certain that I didn’t dream about you – perhaps because I was afraid to – as with Flicka, Tigger, Daisy and Rambo – because of waking up to you not being here.
It breaks my tiny heart pieces further, not to see you and Benji cuddling up together and licking each other. He isn’t leaving my side for a moment. We are grieving together.
As with yesterday, I couldn’t bring myself to do the “play ballie” routine with Benji especially because I would have felt the absence of the whole extra-strokie routine with you in lieu of a game as you were seldom playful. But I know I must take up the ballie routine again because Benji loves it so much – as did I – and I know I will again. I’ll try to start that again tomorrow, especially as I believe with Gastropect again today he will be ready for all his breakfast.
Even without Lilian, my laptop, who went into hospital last Friday and whom I now will only get back tomorrow (Friday), I should still be working at other things like spring-cleaning and gardening, but I can’t face it now. I will try later today.
Everything I do, everywhere I turn, everything I see holds more than memories of you, my precious Cleo – and I WANT those memories, but I shy away from them, because the pain is too great and I am gasping somewhere in-between. From time to time, I pace the house in anguish, afraid to do anything, afraid to think anything, lost, lost, lost in frenzied fear and pain. I want to scream your name and shout how much I love you, but that won’t bring you back, and you know how much I love you anyway. Our bond was – is – strong, special and forever beyond death.
I am nevertheless SO glad that it is me left behind going through this separation anguish and not you, but my sweet, sweet, darling Cleo, how am I going to turn this grief into doing what I need to for Benji and Cle (I started to write ‘Cleo’ because ‘Benji and Cleo’ as words and as furbabies go together like South African blue skies and sunshine) Shadrach and Meshach and Abigail and myself?
Logic and history tell me that this pain will lessen and that my heart pieces will stop bleeding and join up again and start beating again with life, but for now my heart pieces and soul and body and mind don’t know how to believe that. “They”, whoever “they” may be, say “Live in the moment”, but this moment is stretched out of shape and my mind is a jumble of fears and pain and my body doesn’t feel like mine and I can’t find my soul.
I have five very individual furbabies but one of them JUST ISN’T HERE AND ISN’T COMING BACK! Nothing will ever be the same again. Cleo, CLEO, CLEO!