It was a ridiculously sad day.
And with not too much thought, I can still see the lifeless eyes. Just nothing, absolutely nothing staring out into emptiness.
A Dog Person and a Cat Person
The tragic story began over two years ago, at the beginning of my amazing relationship with Devorah.
We became super close, super quickly.
We quickly established that I was a dog person, and she adored her little kitty cat. If I look back to many of our early photo exchanges, a huge percentage of hers are with her cat.
When we started our new life in Jerusalem, the cat stayed home. Why? Well, for one, we had a dog, which could be quite challenging. But also, Teeny wasn’t a city cat. He was used to just roaming around outside, defending himself when necessary, and coming home when it suited him. It would be impossible to give him the life he wanted and was used to in Jerusalem.
Dog and Cat Family
But then he got sick. Extremely sick. And we had to figure out how to bring him into our home so Devorah could take care of him. So she could give him the best possible life with whatever amount of time he had left.
And in moments, we were a dog and a cat family.
And the bonding process began. Which was terrifying for me. I’m not much of a cat person. But I am an animal person. And it’s really easy to bond with an animal. Especially one that took a quick liking to me, and loved to sit on and fall asleep on my lap.
But forming a bond with a sick cat was basically guaranteeing an imminent trauma. And the bond happened anyway.
Obviously our time together was brief. And he was not himself, so weakened by his illness. But the bond began, alongside of the fears of the inevitable.
He Grew Weaker
When Teeny inched closer to his last days, he wasn’t eating. He grew weaker and weaker, and it was hard to watch him. At the very end, he would fall down repeatedly. It was honestly heartbreaking.
And it forced us to contemplate things no one should ever have to consider.
I am a dog owner (and lover). And I get chills imagining a world in which I have to consider the end of my beautiful Frank. And I have to immediately force myself to think about something else, otherwise risk ruining the rest of my day.
And as heartbreaking as it was to watch this innocent creature suffer, watching my poor Devorah was one of the most painful things I’ve ever witnessed. She was suffering. She felt a deep, dark hurt. And there was absolutely nothing I could do for her.
And only at the very end was I able to be there in a way that Devorah needed. She couldn’t bear to say goodbye. But couldn’t stomach her beloved kitty leaving this world without being held in a loving manner. Without someone who cared about him comforting him until his last moment.
And I sat there, knowing what I was there for. But not really knowing. Holding this poor animal, who didn’t ask for any of this. What does a cat want from this world? A bit of food. Some comfort. Cozy places to sleep. They’re not seeking medical attention or recognition for the impact they have on someone’s life.
They’re just in the world for a brief moment, and then one day they’re no longer here. Yet their memory and their impact stay with us forever and ever.
I thought about this and so much more, until one moment I looked down, and there was no longer another breath.
And it’s an image that will not leave my mind. It’s been a few months and it’s still burning in my memory. I’m not naive enough to assume it will be there forever, or will continue to haunt me until the day I die. But it’s certainly there now. And it’s strong.
Those of us so fortunate to be touched by an animal in our lives have trouble explaining this to those who are not blessed with this type of a bond. It’s powerful. It’s comparable to the connection between parent and child. In some ways even stronger. Anger with a child can last for hours. Sometimes days. Probably even more than that for major offenses (I hope I never know).
But anger with an animal dissipates rapidly. It’s like having a baby for life. When they cause harm, they don’t do so from malice. They are clueless. And thus ultimately innocent and harmless.Those of us so fortunate to be touched by an animal in our lives have trouble explaining this to those who are not blessed with this type of a bond. It's powerful. It's comparable to the connection between parent and child. In some ways… Click To Tweet
Parent or Human?
Devorah and Teeny were family.
We have a running joke in my household. I consider us the pets’ parents, Devorah considers us their humans. I tease about it. It’s fun to watch Devorah grunt when I pretend Frank is calling her “mom”.
But on the other hand, I take it seriously. Quite seriously. If we can adopt a child with absolutely no biological connection to us and become their mother or father in every way imaginable, then at the very least the concept of adopting an animal should be somewhat similar. We are signing on to love and care for another being. They are now our responsibility for the long haul.
And the moment that begins, the bond does as well.
So in essence I watched my wife lose her child just a matter of weeks ago. I watched something so amazingly dear to her leave her life forever. And I comforted her and continue to comfort her through the agony that accompanies such a tragic loss.
How to Say Goodbye?
How does one say goodbye to something so precious?
The answer is: You never really do.
A pet that has touched your life will be a part of you forever.
You will have your memories together. And of course there will be pictures galore. But the real impact comes from how they eventually intertwine with your life, and at some point you cannot imagine a world without them.
Teeny is still with you, Devorah. And he always will be.
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