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I Was Told to Unbury My Cat

A story of dealing with love and loss

By Dylan M ParkinPublished 2 years ago 5 min read

As a kid, I have had my fair share of times I deeply felt that excruciating pain of losing a pet. But after losing families of rabbits and parrots and hens, I started to not feel that anymore. Nothing to complain about here though. I guess eventually one begins to take death as it is: the ultimate and inevitable truth that one must always be prepared for.

But just when you think you have mastered the art of dealing with death/pain and begin to believe that there is nothing else left to mess with your emotional stability, God knocks you off your high horse on which you were riding so arrogantly believing yourself to be some invincible Guru.

One might think that the death of a loved one is the most painful experience. And that if you can get over that, you have learnt all lessons. But pain, the biggest teacher, will never abandon you. It keeps coming back in other forms and sometimes it can be something as small as someone telling you to unbury your beloved pet.

Recently, we lost our 2-year-old cat when he was let out by this other cat we got as a partner. Some stray dogs caught hold of him at night and after looking for him at least 4 times in the entire neighborhood the next morning, we found him the same day camouflaged in the bushes near our house. We buried him in an empty plot where we did a full-blown funeral with a tombstone, flowers and prayers. What surprised me was how almost the entire neighborhood took it as seriously and came out to help in whatever way they could and tried to console us in whatever words they could find. It was humbling for someone like me who wasn’t grieving as much as everyone thought I would be and somewhat comforting for my daughter who was absolutely devastated by the loss. The next day I let my daughter be when she said that she did not want to go to the school farewell party she had waited so eagerly for. I left for work while she was busy editing a compilation of Sheyru’s pictures.

Absorbed in my daily office tasks I got a call from my daughter at about 11 a.m. As soon as I said hello she burst out crying uncontrollably. My heart sank. What else could have happened that would make her cry this much all over again? Upon asking I made out the scenario from the incoherent pieces of information she managed to deliver between her sobs.

Someone had come over to complain about Sheyru's grave. They were concerned that it would lead to the spread of smell and diseases. They told my daughter to tell me to come see them as soon as I got home and also to dig up the cat and put him somewhere else or they would do it themselves.

Now the problem with this entire scenario was not the irrational logic behind the complaint. Because I believe that if they felt that the dead cat properly covered in the soil would still cause the spread of smell and diseases then this was their truth and one must learn to respect and be tolerant to what others believe as their truth. There is nothing really that you can do to change their mind. It wasn’t even the rude tone and the harsh words because I believe that majority of the time (especially on first encounters) rude behavior from someone has nothing to do with you. It is mostly a consequence of anger towards their own problems in life and their own insecurities were behaving in such a manner makes them feel superior and somehow more powerful and in control. And it surely was not them complaining to other neighbors about how I had caused them inconvenience, because I had witnessed the compassion from the same people only the previous day.

Then what was it that was making me so sad about the situation? I could not really put my finger on it. Why was this bothering me more than the passing away of my beloved pet?

The feeling did not go away even after I confronted the said neighbors in the evening. In fact, calling it a confrontation would not be accurate considering that I was so exhausted and drained from the sadness, all I could muster was just an apologetic demeanor. So, I went to their house with a box of donuts with the word 'Sorry' written on one of them. Not because I was trying to be the bigger person but simply because in this heartbroken state this is all that I could manage. I only had the energy to offer an apology gesture for the unintentional trouble they felt they were caused. To my relief, they talked to me in a decent manner, and after politely refusing the donuts, graciously accepting my verbal apology, and some advice on how I should have known better, they allowed me to keep the grave as it was and to just put more soil on it. Without arguing, I obliged to their request and thankfully the matter rested in peace along with my dear Sheyru.

But the sadness did not go away. When it actually hit me was the next day. And there and then in broad daylight of a Sunday morning, I wept and wept for my dear pet. Uncontrollable tears came pouring down while I went through his pictures and missed his warm, fuzzy aura in the house that had become a constant for the past two years. His confident strut, his lazy eyes, his sweet innocence, and his unique 'catitude' that no other cat in the world would ever be able to match. Endlessly, I talked with my daughter about him and his stories from the day we brought him as a two-month-old kitten up until the end of the most joyous two years that he had given us. We laughed and cried and I felt myself beginning to feel better. All this made me realize the importance of grieving. Of proper goodbyes. Of not letting things hang in the middle. Of moving on without the baggage. Of closure.

It further strengthened my belief that all the experiences that we go through in life are meant for our growth and sometimes good people might be portrayed as the villains in our story just to teach some lessons. When the lesson is learned, our perspective of those very people, things, and events also changes. And eventually, we come to a conclusion that anything that is present in this world is ever-changing and comes without guarantee. Hence, that guarantee, that constant, that permanence, or simply that forever-and-ever that we all seek cannot come from anything that we have around us in the physical.

So, living in a world that offers no guarantees, when you are given a glimpse of something worse that could have happened than what is already happening to you or simply when pure goodness comes your way, make sure to allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised. Also, when it comes to our efforts in avoiding pain, we at times shut ourselves down emotionally which results in blockages that we carry with us through years and years. Emotions are beautiful and meant to be felt. They might give us a hard time for a while but they are vital for the process by which we purify ourselves. And at the end of the day, they make us who we are. The vulnerable, powerless humans that are on a journey of finding their way back to the great big permanence.


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