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The Day You Left

Saying Goodbye; 4 years on.

By ElPublished 5 months ago 7 min read
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The day you left; it was as though my world split in two. It wasn’t sudden, not really. You’d been slowly fading for months, and I was just too blind to see it.

Acceptance is not something that comes easily, when faced with the encroaching mortality of someone that you love. The love I had for you, that surpassed the limits of what I imagined love could be.

The first time I realized that you were sick, your food lay untouched in its bowl. Uncharacteristic, when you were always so keen to remind me when you were hungry. If dinner was a few minutes late, I’d hear about it in your animated mews. You’d weave around my legs, yelling as I made my way to the kitchen, rearing your tiny paws on the cupboard door until I eventually managed to pry it open. I’d scratch the top of your head each time, finding joy in the purrs that would follow.

You always sounded as if you were loudly proclaiming “Now!” “Now!” It became a running joke in our house.

That day. Bowl untouched, I went and sat beside you on the couch. Gently stroked your head and you gave no reaction. You did not lift your head to acknowledge me, you did not purr a greeting. I lifted your lips to see gums as white as sheet paper.

My heart dropped. I couldn’t breathe.

That was the start of months of vet visits, accumulative hours spent crying in waiting rooms and around examine tables. They adjusted your medications so many times that I lost track, all while failing to bring us the answers we yearned for. Nobody knew why you were so sick, nor could they provide me with an answer of if you would recover.

I remained hopeful. Locked in a blissful state of denial. Believing that you would get better because the alternative was unbearable.

Success!

Between the steroids prescribed and the frequent soft meals I’d forced upon you, you gained weight. It was a small victory, but your appointments became less frequent, and you became more energetic. You came back to me, at least that was what I chose to believe. You had started behaving like your old self again, the person you’d been before you had gotten ill.

It’s cruel. How you lulled me into a false sense of security. How naïve I was to believe that the worst was behind us. Yet, I chose to believe- there’s that denial again.

I had to leave you. A decision that I continue to regret even to this day, it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how this one mistake, would cost you so dearly. But I believed you to be safe, leaving others with strict instructions of what medications you required, and when.

I want you to know, that my leaving was not of my own choosing. Someone else needed me, and I thought that five days would do no harm.

I was mistaken. Please, forgive me.

When I returned home, you were there to greet me. It hurts, to remember how you eagerly leaped from the couch upon noticing my arrival. Your hind legs buckled as you hit the ground and you slowly followed me out into the kitchen.

You were skeletal. Reminding me of a poor creature who had suffered months of neglect and malnourishment. How long had they allowed you to deteriorate from my absence? They sought to spare my feelings from receiving bad news, at the expense of your suffering.

For that, I can never forgive them.

This was the night before you left.

I sat on the kitchen floor that night, coaxing you to lick at the food. It had become one of your favourites. But you were so tired, you took a few licks and then lay down as if eating expended too much energy.

You lay your head on your paws, and you looked at me. That was the moment that I knew, I was losing you.

You fought so valiantly. I am so proud of you. I am so sorry.

I took you upstairs to bed with me that night, clinging to you as if afraid that you might slip away. You were so weak, I was almost too afraid to sleep, scared that I’d wake up to find you gone.

You held on. I believe that was your intention, you did me a kindness.

I made the appointment that morning, with plans to take you straight in. Deep down, I knew what this might mean, but still I buried my head in that same denial. Unable to face the truth of what was happening, convinced that the vet would find another way to prolong your life.

The vet was lovely. You really liked her. Even though she’d stuck you with more needles than I care to remember, you’d growled at her in the past. But not that day, I think you knew what was going to happen, because you purred the entire time that she pet you.

I didn’t want you to see me cry. I never wanted you to be scared. But I’m only human and as a species, we’re innately flawed. You’d roll your eyes if you were capable of such a feat, you did view us as inferior, all but me… I am honoured to have been your “person.”

We got to have a moment alone in that examine room, as I prepared to grant you that eternal sleep. You’d be at peace soon enough, and I think you’d more than earned it by then. You would be free from pain, from suffering.

You’d granted me seventeen wonderful years of companionship. You’d watched me grow from a clumsy three-year-old, who was probably a bit too heavy handed at times, into a teenager with very few friends. At times, you were the only one I could talk to, during my loneliest years. You almost saw me through the entirety of my teens, if you’d lived just shy of a year longer then you would’ve seen my 20th birthday.

I spoke to you softly in those final few moments together. I told you how deeply I loved you, and that we would meet again. Something I had to believe, because the thought of never seeing you again was too much- If that were the case, I don’t think I’d ever be able to let you go.

“This isn’t goodbye, this is just see you later”.

I repeated this to you. I told you that you could go and that I would be okay. You did not have to look after me anymore, because I truly believe that you looked after me as much as I looked after you.

The vet came into the room, and I almost chickened out. But I knew that I had to be brave, I owed you a peaceful passing.

I held you as she explained that she would sedate you first, and then administer the drug that would set you free.

She administered the sedation and I felt you go frighteningly still in my arms. I panicked, my grip tightening on you almost protectively as the vet pressed a stethoscope to your flank.

“She’s already gone, I’m so sorry”.

You were ready. I was not.

October will mark 4 years since you left, and I’m still every bit as broken as I was the day that you left. I kept my promise though, I am okay…

I’ve gone back to college, studying Animal Management… That’s pretty on brand, isn’t it? I'll be going to university next September, if all goes well. Hard to believe, I know.

I have two more cats now. Zephyr and Galileo. You’d have hated them; I’m not even going to lie. You hated company of the feline variety, and you’d loathe how often Zephyr can be found napping next to me. That was your spot.

They don’t sleep on me like you did.

I miss you.

PS: I’m sorry.

vetCONTENT WARNINGcat
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About the Creator

El

They/them.

Full time student, part time writer.

Sometimes writing drabbles about my life, mostly writing fictional tales to fulfil my needs for escapism.

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