Today I woke up and there was no ball of fur curled up at my feet, no demands to be fed, or meows asking for a drink from the bathroom sink. My cats are gone.
Last night I said goodbye to my little furry family members. I expected it to be unpleasant. But I had no idea how painful it would turn out to be. Saying goodbye to one of my dogs, Sandy, years ago when she had to be put down wasn’t this hard. Feeling her die in my arms wasn’t this hard. Leaving my two cats behind and walking away was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Which, I suppose, just goes to show how hard my life truly isn’t. But even if some might not get what the big deal is, it is a big deal to me.
Girla came into our lives first. She was a hell-cat as a kitten. She destroyed our possessions and drove us crazy at night attacking our feet and meowing. But we still loved her. She grew calmer in time. And she became more affectionate as she grew older, often trying to climb into our laps at inopportune times, like when we were using the bathroom. She could spend what felt like hours chasing after shadows and spots of light on the walls. She went absolutely nuts for the laser pointer. And she always wanted to be nearby. Often, if Adam was in one room, and I in another, she’d find a spot equal distance from both of us and lie there where she could see us both. They very first thing I ever sewed was a cuddly cat house for Girla.
Lily came later. I thought she was beautiful the moment I saw her. I adored her single striped leg. And I was so sad when the shelter said someone else was already adopting her. But then circumstances changed and we were allowed to bring her home after all. As a kitten she would spend the entire day sleeping in my lap. As she grew up she became more independent, finding a quiet, out-of-the-way spot to sleep most of the day. She loved watching the world through the window. She’d get excited watching snow fall, as if the flakes were thousands of fluffy, white bugs. Lily sometimes insisted on us watching her eat. I was never sure why that was. At night Lily turned into a snuggle addict. Sometimes she’d crawl under the covers with us, other times she’d sleep on top of us. When I was pregnant she’d sleep on my belly and purr so loudly I was certain Lovey could hear it. Lily had the loudest purr I’ve ever heard.
But not anymore…not for me. Now somebody else will hear the clunking footsteps of my fat Girla, and the chirpy purr of my little Lily.
I will never again find toy mice in my bed because Girla brought them in the night hoping for a game of fetch. I will never again be greeted at the front door by a Lily who is happy I’m home. I will never pick up their furry bodies and hold them close ever again. I miss them so much, more than I ever thought I would. And sometimes it’s a battle to stop from panicking and crying out “I want them back” and “I want to go bring them home!” And sometimes I lose that battle and am a tearful, snotty mess. I think of my last memory of them, cowering in a cage together because they’re surrounded by the smell and sound of strange cats they’ve never met. It breaks my heart to not be there to comfort them. And it breaks my heart to be hurting so much and to not have them here to comfort me like they have so many times in the past.
I try to remind myself that not only does Lucy deserve to be safe, they deserve a home where they don’t feel threatened or annoyed by small children, a home that will be more stable than ours in the coming years. And I know the SPCA will do their best to find them that home, and I hope, oh, I hope that they’ll find them a home together so they at least won’t be separated from each other even though they’ve been separated from us. But knowing I’ve done what seems best for my daughter and for them, doesn’t make it any easier to do something that hurts and sucks for me. I can feel their non-presence. The emptiness and quiet of the house is oppressive, like it’s closing in and squeezing me tight. And there’s just Lucy here to distract me. Lucy, who has no understanding of what’s happened, acts as if today is no different than any other day. She won’t remember Girla of Lily, even though “kitteh” was one of her very first words and “Gggrra” was another. She won’t remember how she used to meow back at them when they meowed. She won’t know that, even though they became aggressive because they didn’t understand that they shouldn’t attack her at other times they were loving. When Lucy cried the hardest they’d come to see what was the matter. Last night, while Lucy sat in her highchair I asked her sadly “where’s Girla?” And she smiled, and cooed and immediately looked down to the floor to see the cat that wasn’t there. She quickly forgot and went back to happily playing with her Cheerios. But I didn’t forget. I’ll never forget. I could never forget my fur babies.