Yesterday I took a sad day. I didn’t have a fever or a stomach ache. Instead, I was engulfed in heavyheartedness. The day was devoted to Gilmore Girls and other mindless television. I ate chocolate. I made pasta. I pulled out an adult coloring book and filled in fairies’ wings with different shades of Crayola pencils. I took an extra-long nap. I cuddled with Finn, our big furry cat. I sat with my sadness. I wallowed.
Last week we made the difficult decision to let our other cat Zooey go. We both were with her at the end, petting her soft fur and whispering into her ear. It was heartbreaking. The next morning I cleaned with a crazed mania, trying to rid the house of evidence of her illness. I spent the next week in a daze, traveling to my hometown for a quick overnight to help my mother-in-law, and then a few days later up to Chicago for a visit with my youngest son. I didn’t have time to really acknowledge the loss of this cat, the void she was leaving in our home.
When I walked in the door on Tuesday afternoon, Finn greeted me with pitiful meows. “Where have you been? Where’s that other one? I need you. Pay attention to me. I can’t believe you left me. Don’t ever leave again.” I know. I know. I’m personifying, yet that’s what it sounded like. Poor kitty. Then, suddenly, I was knocked off my ass with the ghost of Zooey, and deep despair finally overtook me. I plopped on the couch, and didn’t leave it for almost a day and a half, except of course for bathroom breaks, snacks, and a quick shower. With my husband away on a business trip, silence echoed throughout the house. I allowed myself grieve.
Today I am stronger because of my sad day. I will welcome joy back into my heart. These furry housemates, as a friend of mine calls them, teach us much, but the hardest lesson is learning how to live with the sorrow of letting go. My heart will probably always have a small fissure in it, left by the black cat with the bitchy meow. Our Zooey.