Seventeen years ago someone I loved so very much died. Before she died, she cried that she was not ready to go. Some people are; she wasn’t, and so she fought an uphill battle to live until she could no more. Her reason to live were the people she loved.
As far back as I can remember I use to imagine – really imagine people I loved dying so I could see how bad the pain would be. From a young age I couldn’t stand hearing about any type of ending and this spilled into my teens and then into adulthood. I guess nobody is ever ready or able but when you find yourself crying at airport departures for people who you don’t even know their names….well you have to pull yourself together!! There is a funny story to one of my sobs at airport goodbyes but I will save that for another blog. I also could never end a relationship! No matter how bad it was, the thoughts of an ending made it easier to stay. How lucky I was that my boyfriends earlier in life didn’t quiet feel the same about endings!!
How do I cope with this ending phobia? I simply block it, when it comes into my head, I literally shake it off. However, Animal Rescue makes me face my worst fears frequently. Yes, I face them and I feel the feelings and I literally crumble. Whether it’s a rescue dying or a rehoming – endings are plentiful. They are dreadful; even the happy ones!
Today was one of those days. Prince Harry, a beautiful, loving, and gentle kitten is dying on me. I took him out of SCAR one Sunday, months ago, after I had finished cleaning the cat cabin. I remember asking my friend Linda could she reach up for him as he was perched on a beam in his run. I’m not too good with feral cats and she reached up and brought him into her arms. He wasn’t feral; he wasn’t well, so I brought him home. The lady who owns the rescue wanted him to get more attention also.
And this is how his short little life has panned out: fighting one thing after the other. To find out that a six month old has gone blind and unable to stand suddenly is heartbreaking. He can’t tell you if he is hurting; he can’t tell you what would make it better. Vets and a specialist later, he has been diagnosed with FIP and the words you want to send back ‘there is no cure’ becomes like a verbal boomerang – it keeps coming back. He purrs constantly even though he can’t see or really walk. And if he had words, I think he would say, ‘I want to live a bit longer’. The cats here adore him and lately sometimes you see one at each side at him, to hold him up. They know; they are doing what they can. I’m thinking about his ending before it’s begun. Every vet visit, I thought it was the last. Every day he had to take medication, I said it’s not forever. Every time he pushes his head against mine, I told him how much I loved him. I thought he would be the cat who would be with me as I cross various milestones. I thought he was my forever cat when a home let him down as a kitten.
Animals suffer so much in this world and you wonder how they make sense of it with no words. So they feel but they can’t verbalise it. How blessed we are that most of us are gifted to have the ability to express, to share and to name what it is that lies within us. We need to do it more! Animals are so very vulnerable; they are without a voice.
Today I returned to a site where a friend and I had put up a dog run for two puppies. I wanted to fill it with toys and water and food bowls. Every toy I laid down, the two puppies quickly ran with them into their new house my friend built for them. They distracted me from my broken heart as did a little boy who lives here. It was as if he knew, as he ran to fill the water bowls, and fixed the run up. He asked me lots of questions and I enjoyed answering them. His only request was that I find a Santa Teddy for the puppies. Our first encounter wasn’t as smooth. From today, it can only get better. Leaving this site is made easier knowing that the puppies here have an insulated dog box and a run to keep them off the road. Little things to delay their ending and to make their lives nicer. The little boy’s
There is no cure for grief but as an elderly man from Connemara said to me, ‘you’ll learn to walk on again without them; you just might go through your remaining years with a limp.’ And so you do.