Pain has a way of changing things.
I woke up that morning, as the owner of four pets- animals I had loved with unguarded care for a least a number of years, each.
I completely missed that moment everything shifted- now thinking back, there were several moments I should have known that life would not be the same.
I left the apartment that after noon, as a the owner of a cat who seemed suddenly ill, realizing that the feeling in her gut that her 6-year-old Darwin seemed more lethargic than usual. As I hauled my 13LBS big boy down the hallway toward the elevator, frantic, but in too much shock to let my thoughts sink in, I realized I hadn’t seen him eat in days.
I think deep down, I knew Darwin wouldn’t survive long and that’s why he was my favorite. The awkward exchange I had with the volunteer worker at the Honolulu ASPCA, where I fist met and fell in love with my Darwin- he was the only one climbing up the mesh walls of the kitten enclosure and was almost at the top, was an omen. She asked if I wanted to get him tested for feline leukemia and that I could always “give him back if he ends up having it.” I said, “Hell no!” How could she not understand that I fell in love with him and nothing would change that? I handed her my $40 for the adoption fee and schlept my new kitten home.
I walked back in to my apartment days later, with an empty crate that I refused to wash until two months later, because I didn’t want to wash his smell out of it. Knowing full well, that that would be my first 8a without him, my first cup of coffee without him and that I didn’t know whether my other cats and dog were also missing him and wondering where he was. I fell onto my bed in a fetal position and sobbed- my entire body convulsing uncontrollably. I wept until I was empty, then fell asleep.
One of the most awful things about losing someone or something you cherish, is those first waking moments the day after it has happened. The immediate confusion, the pang in your chest, the lump in your throat, the churning of your stomach and nerves- the knowing. I woke up and for a brief moment, thought I had dreamt it and reality rushed in like a title wave. I sat in my bed just staring, letting the sorrow pulsate through my body and permeate the room. I had not felt this much grief since my mom died two and a half years prior. The sunlight in my studio apartment changed, the air suddenly was heavy and oppressive.
There was the last place Darwin curled up like a little fluff ball to nap. There was the last place he let me scratch his chin while he purred. There was the last place he scooted a glass bowl off the counter and watched it fall to the ground. There was the last place he sat, gazing at the view outside the north-facing window- my grief was taking on a life of its own.
He was not going to come back and nothing felt the same.
Sadness has a way of coloring things. It was beginning to wash over every moment with watercolor blue. But what happens when we turn toward and accept sorrow’s tight grip on the heart? What happens when we let it be?
I soon discovered my inner strength- with a heavy heart, I got up and went to work, with tears streaming down my face I relaxed and watch tv, with a heaviness in my throat I would cook dinner, but was living nonetheless. Living, with a hole in my life, which I held, cared for and gave space- then set free.
The true colors are cautiously seeping back in. A wetted paint brush sets its strokes across the canvass, chasing the blue back to the edges of the page. And everyday, the pain is a little less ❤
❤ In loving memory of Darwin ❤