The old adage says that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. If I look at the past year and half, I’m not so sure. In 2014 alone, I suffered a miscarriage, I was hit by a car which led to a broken leg and a year of physical therapy, and I moved to a new city. This year, the dating gods have miserably failed me, and finally last week my 18 year old cat Paxton died. So while, I am out of bed and I’m going through the motions, my cracks are starting to show.
I fear the superwoman strength inside me is struggling to find air–the levies of strength that have held me up through years of heartbreaks, crappy jobs, bad bosses, intrastate moves and late nights wondering WTF is wrong with me are crumbling piece by piece, layer by layer–I can touch the bottom with my toes and I fear it won’t be long before the break pulls the rest of me under.
A week ago today, my beloved, best-friend, soulmate, Paxton the cat, died. He was 18. For some time, I’ve known I had less years than more years with him, so I had been trying to prepare myself for what I knew was coming. Yet, what I quickly learned is that you’re never ready to say good-bye. You’re never ready to walk into the house and see your family dying on the floor where just hours before you had played, and said, “I won’t be gone long.”
Over the years, I had prayed Paxton would go quickly and on his own. Thankfully, he did, but having to not make that final choice that so many pet owners have to make doesn’t make it easier either. Death is death and it sucks!
Grief starts with shock. The morning Paxton died, I came home from the vet, not sure what to do, so I ripped the sheets off my bed as if I was hiding from my boyfriend that I had cheated on him in our bed. I tried to soothe myself remembering our last night together–He curled up beside me on the big sofa as we watched Parenthood on Netflix together. I haven’t been able to watch TV from the sofa since. The last time I even walked into the living room, I found a fur ball on the hardwood floor and burst into tears.
I tell myself that grief is short-lived and the 18 years of love, devotion and companionship far out weighs today’s pain. I tell myself I was lucky to have had so many years with him. Yet, as I say these things, I double over on the kitchen counter and sob. I am lonely and the tidal wave of hurt swallows me whole. I begin to hate every man who’s left me for another, every woman with a healthy child, every 20-something with a dream, everyone who has someone to call their person. DAMN IT! I hate God for teasing me with hope each time I dared to like someone. And now the one thing I did have is gone and there’s no one to fill the void, no one for me to collapse into, no one to hold me up when I can’t hold myself, no one to wipe away my tears. Loneliness consumes me and I’m forced to feel the pain of every man who never fought for me, never chose me.
When I adopted Paxton, I was 25. The future looked like light years away with so many hopes and dreams ahead of me–dreams of family, three kids, more cats, maybe a dog and a house full of love, laughter and a little bit of wackiness. Paxton was the start of my family. I had no doubt I would would add-on.
Twenty-five became 29, then 31, then 34, 37, and 42–Paxton was still there, but the dreams for the add-on of family began to fade. A select few boys, and men would come into my life, providing hope for what had eluded me, but just as quickly as they entered they’d leave, each time chiseling away at my dreams, taking a piece of my heart along the way.
I finally accepted an alternative family, my only constant: me and Paxton. We developed a routine just like any married couple–every night he’d jump on the bed, curl up on the pillow beside my head and we’d fall asleep together, and then at some point in the night we’d both go our separate ways until morning when he’d jump back into bed and with a soft cry and sandpaper licks to my cheek wake me up. Today, I wake up in a sad silence, in an empty bed with dried tears on my cheeks.
A voice came to me a few days before Paxton died and said, “you’ve spent your entire adult life striving to be ordinary, maybe you’re destined to be extraordinary.” I think it’s that voice that was preparing me to let go, to say good-bye to what I thought I was supposed to be and look to the future to what I was destined to be. I still believe I have something extraordinary to give, to offer someone, and damn, they’re going to be lucky! But right now in this moment, I don’t know what that is and the energy to find answers to make sense of why I am where I am has been zapped out of me. I think I have to sit in my grief for a bit, feel the pain, curse the demons, and let the water seep through the cracks and crush the guarded exterior of my soul.