Four seasons, 12 months or one year has passed since our dear Gris Gris passed suddenly. It doesn’t matter how you quantify time: fast or slow, it passe, the heart heals or changes with every breath. We buried our gray boy in the garden on Dec. 29. A day not unlike today: warm enough to shovel dirt dressed in a sweater and no gloves. Week after week I’d visit his grave with or without the other cats and notice the changes. Leaves dried. Snow covered all traces of the grave if not the loss. Snow melted, buds, blossoms and blades of green poked through in spring. Ivy spread in a blanket of comfort in summer. Leaves turned yellow and withered again in the fall and here we are again. Older, wearier, wiser and somehow owning a larger, albeit weathered heart. When something we love dies, it’s hard to let go. Watching the changing cycles of nature helped me let go.
I re-read (with tear-blurred eyes) the heartfelt comments from our RIP post humbled and blessed by our big-hearted cat-loving community. Thank-you and many thanks for everyone who kindly and graciously participated in my pet loss research study. Phase 2 continues. If you have lost any species of pet in the past year and have not already participated but would like to, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Pet loss in subject line.
For some, a year is more than enough time to grieve. For others, it’s simply scratches the surface. For me, the worst passed within weeks. For months, I’d look out the window first thing in the morning to look at the grave (the photo above is the view).Then one day I didn’t and the grieving process shifted. Tears ebbed and flowed. The grieving journey remains private for me. I thought I’d write about it publicly but decided not to. At least not in extended form. For now. The rivulets of grief flowed into other losses (death of close friend’s father, my mother on the brink of death more than once, illness and mind-boggling challenges of all kinds. I am in no way out of the woods and I will need to make some serious choices in 2015.
The shifting sands of sadness has softened its brittle edges making it easier to let go and move on. All the cats have moved on. They no longer pine for their feline friend but on the anniversary of his death we strolled and stopped to visit his grave. We paid our respects. Domino appeared solemn. Odin raced up and down trees. Merlin happily sniffed the warmer air. They seemed to know something had shifted including having a new gray cat in the home; our one-eyed foster girl Nou Nou. She’s an unexpected joy despite her challenges and causing 896 new gray hairs. Gris Gris would approve. Not the gray hairs but opening our hearts and home to a cat who didn’t present well at the shelter. He was the poster boy for the joys of adopting less adoptable cats. Old, toothless, skittish and not a cuddle buddy or lapcat , he had his charms. For a quiet no muss no fuss cat he left large paw prints in our hearts. Those paw prints keep kneading, making it easier to soften our resolve about adopting again, eventually. The house felt emptier for a long time and it would have been easy to fill the empty space. God knows there are enough needy cats in shelters but it didn’t feel right to rush. It still doesn’t feel quite right but sooner or later the irresistible siren call of MEOW sounds and well, you know how it goes…life and love go on.