I lost the last of the three great loves of my life on Friday with the death of my cat, Skat.She was with me for 19 years and was the longest, most lasting, love relationship of my life. I lived with her longer than I did with my parents. I am bereft.
Skat’s death has brought into sharp relief the grief I have felt over the loss of my other two great loves—furry family members Kitsch, her mother, who died this past February, and Spot, her sister, whose death six years ago knocked my world off its axis—plus that of my aunt and role model, Paula, who died this past summer; that of my favorite human in the world, my grandmother, Marie, who passed a few years ago. Suffice to say, right now I’m a mess, even as I know that life goes on and that this terrible loss will soften and grow ever so slightly more tolerable with time.
Though I keep reminding myself that Skat’s gone, just one second after that thought, I still look for her, sitting with her tail tucked around her feet as she waits for my arrival home at the door to my house, lounging in her favorite leather club chair, basking on a sunbeam on the couch or burrowed under the comforter on my bed. I have shocked myself at the all-consuming thoughts I have, seemingly thousands of times a day, about her love and care—from making sure her special water glass is full at my bedside table to nudging her various kitty steps in front of every piece of furniture taller than my knee so she can sit next to me wherever I may be.
I know that there are people out there who don’t get the importance of pet love, but for me, Skat, Kitsch and Spot were my babies. As a result, they were always more important than any other relationship in my life. The men I have dated always knew that they came in fourth, if they were lucky. My love for my fur babies was simple; I was their mommy. Having been relieved of that role, I find myself at a profound loss.
I miss her purr, her smell, her kisses. I miss the feel of soft fur against my body—of her snuggling up in the crook where my arm meets my torso, her paws on my shoulder and her head on my neck. I miss our mealtime routine, where in the last few months of her life I would bring her wet food to her in bed, thrilled by her appetite even though I knew she was inching toward the inevitable. I miss the way she would burrow under the covers, sleeping peacefully and happily in the bend of my knee. I miss the way she would stake out the shower, impatiently waiting for me to get out so she could enjoy a steam.
I’m so glad that I had the week off between Christmas and New Year’s and that we spent nearly every hour together. I’m glad that we were able to play a little bit with her favorite toys on the day before she died. And I’m glad that her last morning was a good one.
I’m grateful that she received the best, most loving care from Barry Browning, James Kuehn and the staff at Sag Harbor Veterinary Clinic up until the very end. And though I am beyond sad that she suffered—even for a minute—at the very end, I am grateful that I was with her (as I was fortunate enough to also be with Kitsch and Spot), holding her and looking into her eyes, as she left this world. I am glad that I did everything in my power to let her know that she was loved.