I woke up when I felt something jump off the bed. I sat up with a jolt thinking it was my cattle dog x, Bobbie, wanting to be let out as she has done every morning since staying at my partner’s parents' house for the last few weeks. But when I looked down, Bobbie was still asleep. So, what had jumped off my bed? The dream I had been having before I had been awoken was fading from my mind slowly, so I could recall what it was about.
I had been dreaming about my cat, Cara. She had passed away 2 years prior and saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. She was eighteen years old by the end and I was twenty-one.
She had been there for me through everything. Always being a companion when I needed one most. Especially through those teenage years when I was losing friends and felt like I was losing my mind. She would sit by my side all quiet, except for her loud purrs that would overlap my sobs. I would tell her about my struggles that I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone else and she would sit and listen.
When she was put to sleep, I remember her absence seeming unreal. Like she wasn’t gone and I would hear her loud meow outside my door in the early hours of the morning, wanting to come in and sleep on my bed. I recall my mum saying the day after she died, she expected to hear Cara complaining that the heater wasn’t on like she had always done. But instead, she was met with a silence she hadn’t experienced in years.
I grew to accept that the silence was permanent and I felt like I could move on and it wouldn’t affect me as much, but I have come to learn that grieving isn’t linear. I feel like I go between grieving for her and accepting that she was gone. One day I can recall memories about her and laugh about how my mum used to call her a wombat because she had put on weight from just lounging around the house. And then there are the other times. When I would feel this wave of sadness hit me out of nowhere. I'd be in the shower, amidst washing the suds from my hair and suddenly my tears would be mixing with the soapy water running down my face. The pain being as fresh as the day she died it seemed.
When she passed, I decided to get a tattoo in her memory. I see her every time I look down at my bicep, looking at peace curled up there. I felt something jump off the bed last night. It wasn’t Bobbie and I think back to my dream about Cara and how she was sleeping by my side as she had done for all those years. In my dream, she jumped off my bed and I had felt it in real-time. I got my tattoo so she would always be with me, but feeling her presence so strongly that night, makes me think she never left.
This realization doesn’t expel the sadness that makes my throat go tight at times because I cannot have her here the way I want. I can’t feel her soft fur between my fingers or feel the warmth of her sleeping against my hip under the covers. But I feel content knowing that I still have some connection to her.
I go between these two emotions because grieving isn’t linear. I am allowed to move forward with my life, while still feeling the sadness of this loss because to put it simply, I miss her.
And I've come to learn that is okay.