As a kid, I didn't experience grief. What I mean is, I was lucky that no one really close to me passed away when I was young, animal OR human. I was 18 years old before one of our dogs passed away. (Not counting the one that, in 1978, my parents told me was going to a farm.) I was 20 years old when my grandma died. I was 40 when I realized that there was no farm.
But recently I have had the misfortune to experience grief way too often.
Neala, our tortie, (photo below), queen of the house, master jumper and flipper, passed away in 2015 from cancer.
In 2016, Elfie, our 4-year old kitty that I had cared for since her birth, (photo below), passed away from an anemia disorder. Her sister Pai Mei died in 2019, just shy of her 7th birthday from the same thing.
I didn't see this coming.
Henri was a drinker. He liked to go to the bathroom sink for water. I have 3 cat fountains in the house but he preferred the tap. So, when he seemed to be wanting to get up in the sink a little more frequently, I didn't think much of it. But then he stopped eating. He was in Stage 3+ kidney disease. I am intuitive. But I missed it.
He spent a few days in the hospital. I gave him fluids at home every day for two months. I bought massive amounts of recommended foods, treats, tuna, sardines, baby food, whatever I thought he may want to eat even once. There were days when he rallied. I got so excited that he had eaten 3 times in one day! But within a few more, he was eating barely a tablespoon of anything.
On August 10, 2020. we said goodbye to Henri. His breathing had started to become labored. He clearly let me know he was ready. He spent his last hour outside, on the deck, on a sofa, listening to the birds, feeling the gentle breeze on his beautiful gray fur.
Everyone expresses grief in their own ways. Elliot has spent some time sleeping in Henri's window seat. Penelope is sleeping in a bed that Henri used to sleep in when it was out here on the couch. Fiona is enjoying being right next to me, in the spot that used to be taken up by Henri's bed. They all have their stoic ways of adjusting.
My husband chose to channel his grief into building a catio in honor of Henri, who had just recently become quite a fan of the outdoors. It will be a special "sanctuary" where the kitties can ponder the universe and watch the squirrels empty the bird feeders.
To any of you who may also be suffering, I am here. Our animals are too.
May there be less suffering and more celebrating.