July 27, 2016

Coping with Loss and Grief

Grief is a cruel thing to have to experience. It's been two weeks since Oz, my cat of nine years, was put to rest. I received his ashes in a carved wooden box and a clay imprint of his paw just a few days later. They now sit on my mantle with one of his favorite toys and his collar. When I brought them home I pulled them out of the blue bag they'd been wrapped up in and set them on my kitchen counter. I starred at them for a few minutes before a wave of grief wracked my body. I cried. My heart cried. My soul cried. My memories cried.

Years ago my mom gave me a canister she'd found at a store. It was shaped like a cat and looked exactly like Oz - orange with a little pink nose and white belly. It sits in my kitchen window and has since we moved to Charleston. Now it holds Oz's inhalers, some syringes we used for his oral medicines, and another toy. I sealed it up and will likely not open it again, but I wanted to have those things. They were crappy items to have to need for your cat, but they were a part of my life with him.

I still look to the spot where his bowls sat in the dining room. I expect to feel litter under my feet when I go into the bathroom because he was so messy and kicked litter everywhere. Sometimes I feel like I still see him walking toward me or climbing down the stairs out of the corner of my eye. One night I swore I heard him having an asthma attack and I sat up and flew out of the bed before remembering he was gone. My mind was playing tricks on me. After listening for those attacks for 6 years, my mind still thinks it hears them when it doesn't.

That's grief though. I'm glad he's at peace and no longer having asthma attacks or taking medicine with each meal, but when he was here, I was happy to give him his inhaler and mix up medicines into his meals for him. I vacuumed the bathroom nearly every day, and while I shook my head the whole time, I did it because litter on the floor meant he was there for me to take care of. Sometimes I wish I could still do those things again, just so I could see his sweet little face or hear his meows for dinner one more time.

Grief still hits me at moments I'm not expecting - like in the movies because a preview commercial for Blue Bunny ice cream came on and the bunny's face made me think of Oz. I quietly sniffled and tried not to cry. Sometimes someone will mention my pets and it makes my heart sink because now I only have one. Oz will always be in my heart though and nothing can take that away.

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