I can pretty much tell you this week has been the fucking lousiest week I’ve had since my mom died. It was tons worse than losing my job or deciding not to be a classroom teacher anymore. The idea of letting go of someone we love is immense. It doesn’t matter who that someone is, whether he or she has two feet or four, when it’s time to say good-bye the emotions are overwhelming.
I had to learn at an early age to let go. My first pet Susie, a fabulous German shepherd, died when I was probably 4. I have pictures of us together and stories my mom told me, but no solid real memories. I know that we used to play “Ring Around the Rosie” together. Apparently, I would grab her tail and she would take my arm in her mouth and we would go around in circles as I sang. Then at the end we would both fall down.
I had to let go again when I was 12. My wonderful, amazing uncle and godfather, Chesley Jamison, got cancer and died. It was the first funeral I attended where I really knew the person. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be my last. At 19 I lost my father to cancer. If you’ve read some of my other posts you know he was an alcoholic and there were issues in the family, but it doesn’t matter. He was my dad and he was gone.
Less than 6 months later I had to let go of my sweet loving sheltie, Lady. I’d had her since the first grade and she was my comfort when dad died. I told her things I had never told anyone and she listened and kept all my secrets. After her, I lost both grandmothers. My Gramma Jamison was the hardest since I was so much closer to her.
I got a puppy, a beautiful black lab/Irish setter mix and named her Pagan. She was so smart and so much fun. But, as anyone who has fur-babies knows, they don’t live long. So when she was 14 I had to let go again. After that I swore I’d never ever get another pet. It was too difficult this constant letting go.
I lied. My friend Jennifer talked me into going with her to the humane society to look at cats. I had never owned a cat before . .. or perhaps a cat had never owned me before. But I went and that’s where I fell in love with a beautiful calico girl I named Fiona. She sat on my lap all the time, kissed my tears away, and slept with me every night. Because I had her, I was open when we found a tiny kitten in a mall parking lot. He probably wasn’t even 6 weeks old. I packed him up and brought him home and named him Max. A year later, I rescued another cat from the small town I taught in and named him Warlock. Somewhere in this craziness my cousin talked me into taking in a dog she’d rescued. Lucy was a golden retriever/rhodesian mix (can you say 100 pounds of fury??) But she really wasn’t since the cats kind of raised her so she thought she was a cat.
There I was with 4 fur-babies! My poor Mom finally begged me not to bring anyone else home. Max became her cat. He slept with her and sat on her lap all the time. Fiona was getting older and didn’t want to be bothered much but she did deign to sit on our laps occasionally. Warlock, on the other hand, became my shadow. He followed me from room to room, sat with me constantly, waited by the door for me to come home, came to the bathroom with me, and slept with me. He was my Mister Boo, my Lockster Boy, my Mr. Fuzzypants.
When Fiona was about 16 or so, I once again had to let go. I knew she was ready. She was in pain and had stopped eating and drinking. It didn’t make the goodbye any easier, but I understood it. Lucy, on the other hand, I didn’t understand. She was 5 and ended up with an auto-immune disorder. I did everything I could. Took her to specialists, gave her a billion different kinds of medicine and still I had to let go.
Barely a year after that in 2010, my Mom had a massive stroke. My sister and I were devastated. She was our rock, the one person who loved us unconditionally, our support. In less than a week, she was gone and I had to learn to let go again. The week she was in the hospital and the next week of her funeral was horrible. I came home every night and cried, but Warlock was right there with me. He laid on me, purred and it was such a comfort.
Max is almost 12 and he’d been having health problems. He has thyroid issues, which caused him to lose a ton of weight. For a while, he stopped eating so I was force feeding him. Then, miraculously he began eating on his own. I knew, in my head and heart, he would probably be with me another year tops so I was preparing myself. Spending tons of time with him and babying him.