Monday, December 11, 2006

Little Death

They say a little death makes life more meaningful. I can't agree. It doesn't make me want to live with less regrets. It just leaves a black hole. I know from experience that the hole gets smaller in time. But it's always there. Whether losing a family member, a friend or a pet, it's an aching emptiness that never fully goes away. You may hear a song, get a vision from the past or become flooded with memories, and you choke up. Tears well behind your eyes. It isn't exactly fair.

She was my world for three months. When you're 2,000 miles from a place considered home, trying to make a home out of a place that still feels a bit foreign, and you encounter a ball of love, pure love, it's a devastating blow when it's gone. Every night after work, I ran up two flights of stairs as fast I could, because I hated to hear her crying. I would crack the door, and there she'd be, on my kitchen table, tilting her head up at the doorway. I could always tell she'd just woken up by the way her eyes squinted. She hated to sleep when I was around, as she was afraid she'd miss something. I'd scoop her up, and she'd nuzzle my cheek, complete with a few kisses. I'd get ready for bed, she'd be under my feet. She'd bring her favorite stuffed mouse over to me, and I'd throw it. She'd bring it back, and it would continue like this until I decided it was time for bed. She'd stretch out on the pillow beside me, and we'd watch TV together. She never fell asleep before I did. I only knew this because I'd catch her sleeping, stretched out on her back when I'd wake up in the middle of the night. Until the sun came up and she'd lick me awake. My face, chin, neck. I'd brush her off, but she never gave up, always determined. I'd get up, take a shower. I always knew that when I stepped out of the shower, she'd be laying there. Ready to lick the water off my toes. Then she'd lay and watch me apply my makeup, in awe of what I was doing. Every day for three months. And I miss her so much. She wasn't afraid of anyone or anything. She loved people and she loved life.

And then she was gone, and I didn't see it coming. And I was in denial This isn't happening straight to hysteria Come back to work on Monday, Tina then angry at the animal hospital Couldn't they have done more? then guilt Could I have done more? then ashamed She's just a cat, right?, and then a dull, throbbing ache. And the next day I was OK. Until I found myself rushing up the stairs for no reason. And everyone at work is so sorry. And I'm OK. But then I come home, and I'm alone, and it's hard. That's the way grief is. I know from experience. But I also know from experience that she's just one of two angels who'll always be with me.

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