Something that took me far too long to learn is that where someone is today is not their final destination.
Life is full of changes, both big and small. Those changes can occur for a variety of reasons; choices, time, or just plain old bad luck.
My wife and I experienced a change ourselves recently when we made the painful decision to say goodbye to our cat of nearly 14 years, Willow.
We had been vetting with her for the last six months or so, and nothing we had tried seemed to be helping her maintain any quality of life.
She continued to lose weight, did not want to eat, and generally was just an unhappy feline.
Making the decision to say goodbye was one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make as we’ve had Willow just about as long as we’ve been married. Still, we had to ask ourselves the question, “Are we continuing to do this for her, or for us?”
Ultimately, based on conversations with each other and the vet, we decided that if we kept going on with the treatments it would be more for us than for her, as according to the vet we had tried most of the first-line remedies with no success and there was little to indicate that anything else would any different.
The house has been quieter without her; she hasn’t been fighting with the dogs, growling at the birds outside, or trying to steal my wife’s food right off her plate. Nor has she come to pay me a visit in my home office, which is something she did regularly to make sure I was taking appropriate study and work breaks.
I’m definitely going to miss that, and I am definitely going to grieve her loss.
However, I am soothed by knowing that we gave her a good, and loving life right from the day she picked us as her humans.
When we were first introduced to Willow by my wife’s sister, the cat immediately fell in love with us and we immediately fell in love with her near-instant purr. We had no intention of taking the animal home at the time, but Willow had been dropped at the sister-in-law’s neighbour’s house, which was sort of an animal rescue in the community.
Being a rural property, Willow and the other cats were allowed to run around outside. Once Willow met us, she kept finding her way over to where we were staying and little by little she wore us down, a decision we have never regretted.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is quoted as saying, “Grief is the price we pay for love.”
While welcoming animals into our lives can almost be seen as a guaranteed infliction of grief at some time down the road, they also add a level of fullness to people’s lives that is hard to ignore.
Early twentieth-century author and journalist Anatole France said it best. “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
I’m going to remember the good times we had with the fuzz-ball, and hold on to those memories tightly; but, I’m also going to move forward with life.
The loss of the cat so closely on the heels of the loss of my stepmother at the end of December has made for an inauspicious start to 2023. Still, with things happening both personally and professionally, I have reason to be optimistic about the coming months.
As for whether we will ever get another cat or not, I don’t know. Maybe if another one picks us, but that will be a ways down the road.