Because It Was Real
Over the years, I’ve had many animals, and lost many animals. The sad fact is, our pets don’t live as long as we do (except for a few exotic exceptions). If you love your animals as deeply as I do, you understand just how bad it hurts to lose one.
It’s something I’ve come to dread. I can’t live without animals, but also can’t bear to see them die. I’ve realized that I have a coping mechanism that I really don’t like now that I’m aware of it. At times, when I know the end is coming, I’ll distance myself emotionally. I don’t necessarily distance myself physically. I still understand that my animals need me, but I try not to feel quite so much.
When my cat, Cleo, got sick, is an example of how poorly this method has worked. Cleo went downhill slowly. At first I just thought it was a little cold. I thought that it would be a good idea to not touch her as much so I wouldn’t transport germs to Reilly. The two cats lived separate from each other, so this seemed like a logical idea. This may have actually been a good idea, since no one was able to diagnose and treat her before she died. But I still look back and wish I’d spent more time with her at the end. I had realized that her time had come, and planned to spend an evening with her, giving her all the love and attention I could before ending her suffering. But when I got home from work, she had already passed. You can’t get that back.
With Quincy aging and slowly slipping toward the end, I find myself trying to protect myself from feeling that pain. He may only have a couple months left. He’ll have to make a dramatic improvement to have a year left. But I want to be right there with him to the very end. I want him to feel safe and loved in his last moments, no matter how much it hurts. I’m doing my best to make sure he enjoys his time left. The moments mean so much this close to the end.
One of my newest friends is Pirate Charlie, my one eyed hedgehog. I’m absolutely enthralled. My roommate jokingly calls him my soulmate. I love him. But every time I think that, I find myself thinking about hedgehogs’ short lifespan and how much I’ll miss him when he’s gone. As much as I try to live in the moment, that nasty little thought keeps creeping up.
So I’ve made up my mind. I don’t want to miss out on the deeper feelings of happiness and love while worrying about loss. The deepness of the loss is just a mirror of the deepness of the love. Love deeply. Let it hurt. I want to live in the present and enjoy every moment. And when it’s over, I want to feel the pain and be reminded that it was real. And then continue on and let the next little life in without putting up my guard.