One week ago, my lifelong friend and pet left us to cross over the rainbow bridge. I remember being 6 and having just lost a small kitten to an illness at the pound. We went to go visit my parents friends and meet a new litter that when I was ready, we could take one home. The black and white one was taken. A little lofty orange kitten, who did not want to be held, soon became my Happy. Happy was not named because of his incredibly pleasant attitude, but because I had been denied naming my cousin such and we had a strict alphabetical policy to follow. His namesake was the dwarf from Snow White.
He had a very full life, beginning with a crazy family, a love for hunting, and jumping out a second story window within the first year. He has moved across the country 3 times, hunted everything that moved or might have potentially, faced off with an evil doppelganger, and survived a house fire. His life was long and full. I know mine was with him. I always had a friend, pillow, or surprising story to tell the next day.
Now he is no longer with us life is quieter. I wake up without a furry friend that had crawled into my arms as I slept each morning. I can now sleep near the edge of the bed. As a result, I really haven’t slept at all. I don’t have an automatic lap warmer whenever, I sit down. I don’t hear my partner asking if they can pass out the 5 cat treat of the hour. Our apartment is free of litter boxes, scratching boards, and toys scattered around. I don’t have to be vigilant in putting any beverage down and walking away is going to be shattered to the ground. Anyone will be able to approach me while sick cause no one will be screaming them away. We won’t be keeping tabs on a phantom mouse. Happy was so much of my life and heart for so long it is going to take along time before I can’t reach any kind of feeling that this could now be my new normal, nine lives less.
My grandpa died about three weeks ago now. It was very hard and very weird to deal with as a human, let alone dealing with a death in the family as an adult for the first time. We knew it was coming but it was still a really hard experience
I feel like a lost so much:
- A family member
- One of the smartest person I have ever known (like actually I don’t know that I can think of someone smarter and worry seriously that a mind like his won’t exist again)
- A beekeeper and a wonderful source of honey
- My favorite gossip partner, after every family gathering we would just talk about the terrible decissions everyone had made and commenting on the slightest of remarks made by a cousin’s girlfriend or a great-uncle
- A home base
- And so so much more that I don’t totally have the words for yet
What I learned:
- Take more pictures of everyone for all time. You will want them and you will cherish them.
- There is no way to prepare to carry a box of someone’s ashes, you will just never be ready and yet it happens.
- A box of a person is A LOT heavier than you would think. (side note: the realest fear was coming from what if I drop this and he floats away)
- Tell HR at your place of employment there are these things called bereavement days and you don’t have to take vacation or personal time. Also, people can be nice.
- Sometimes it is helpful just to be there and be present and be ready for whatever.
- You can’t do many things until you have the official death certificate.
- No matter how much you know ahead of time and no matter how long you have been preparing to grieve it still hits you like a ton of bricks.
As you may no from my post on ambiguous loss, this past fall my family has been separated and we have in a sense lost my brother. This was our first holiday season without him. It has not been easy. In fact it has been incredibly hard. There was no fighting over who would light the candles or vigorous bets on which candle could last the longest. We didn’t watch his favorite Christmas movies, yes the Santa Clause is cheesy but this is the first year it did not graze our screens. My sister and I weren’t woken at 6 and then 7 and then 8 which is when we can actually come up to enjoy presents and stockings. Passing around presents went faster than it ever has. It is quiet. I don’t know if I like it. I suppose the only way to get through the holidays is to miss them and know that you miss them and not pretend that things are the same. We tried that for a while and my mom cried through Elf. Needless to say it didn’t go well. So for Christmas my mom framed one of his pictures and I gave my parents a framed photo of the whole family at my sister’s first Christmas (she is the youngest). It is so hard to know how sad you are supposed to be especially on a holiday where in all reality it should feel joyous.
Hanukkah was mostly easy because I was at school for all but the last night and could celebrate with my friends there and did not have to think about my family not being together, as I was states away and couldn’t be with them anyways. This has been harder because it is clearer that someone is not here, that there is a part missing. Hopefully it gets easier as the years go on or at least as we start to move away from this crappy year.
If you have any tips to make it feel any better please let me know.
What ever you are doing today celebrating or not, have a safe and happy time.