Indulge Me This One Last Look
The words of comfort and support here, on facebook, and in email have meant a lot to me. It seems, on one level, silly, an indulgence, to grieve over the loss of an animal. And yet, we live within the cognitive dissonance of eating some animals and loving others, and we do it every day.
My mom used to feed her parrots chicken and turkey. We thought that was pretty funny and pretty cannibalistic, too.
Each day, we do things and believe things that are contradictory. And most of the time we don’t even give these things a second thought.
Joseph Campbell wrote that life was predicated on eating life, that mythology arises out of this need to make sense of such a horror. It is what it is, a mess of a thing.
Many of us are easy going, half-assed kinds of folks. Good enough is good enough and we waste no time or thought in a lack of perfection or order. We don’t mind winging it. Order doesn’t drive us, and so we exist within the contradictions as if they weren’t even there. Plot holes? No biggie. Inconsistencies in story lines? Who cares?
But a large portion of us are not like that; some of us crave patterns and order and consistency. We need it like the air we breathe and we are bereft when there is no pattern.
I can wing it, within the order, within the patterns. I have my limitations, and change, especially sudden change throws me, leaves me reeling, trying to grasp the whole there/not there thing.
Today my little corner of the world changed forever and his name was Ibit, short for Little Bit. We brought him home, the only intentional cat, from the vet back in May of 2001, a few months before Lily was born. It took us a couple names to get it right. Ibit was exactly right. He grew to be fat and he was a perfect companion for Bobby, in a way that a dog just wasn’t. He was the boy’s shadow for a decade.
Two years ago, Ibit was diagnosed with diabetes, this cat of my boy’s, and I began injecting Ib with insulin. He became thin and with a constantly wet chin from never-ending thirst. I did my best to help Ibit, to keep it under control and I began regular talks with Bobby about the day we’d have to let Ibit go. Those discussions ramped up in December last year, but we managed to push it further away until a couple weeks ago when I warned Bobby we were going to have to make this decision soon. And we did. We made that decision yesterday and we carried it out today.
And the boy and I have wept off and on all day. Rick took Ibit to the vet and brought his body home to us, and Bobby and I buried Ib after Rick widened the hole enough to hold the box Ib was in. And the boy hugged me tight after we had finished, and then, in true Bobby fashion, said he was sorry for the boogers that were all over my shirt.
We came back in to a house that seems emptier without Ibit, without Bobby’s shadow.
The girls came home today and asked if Ib was gone now, and I said yes and that was that. They moved on about their afternoon. And that’s okay. It’s okay however they process this loss. It’s okay if it registers later. It’s okay if it somehow passes on with no more rain clouds; they cried yesterday; they held him and loved on him yesterday. They said goodbye yesterday.
We are all different in how we process loss. And that’s okay. It’s been a hard start to the summer, to lose two beloved animals, for my niece to lose her maternal grandfather last week, too, a loss that we feel only tangentially, but it registers nonetheless. And we can hope that the rest of the summer will be easier, but the reality is that loss is our shadow. It follows us wherever we go. We just have to remember to enjoy our times in the sun.