It’s so hard to say goodbye.
A few weeks ago, back in June, I had promised you all that I’d publish a blog post on the 30th. I didn’t make good on that promise. I traveled back to Illinois to help my partner clean out our apartment, as our lease was up the 30th, and to help my brother move into his first place outside of school on the 1st. I also attended the bridal shower for my brother’s fiancee, went to my dear friend’s birthday party, and got to spend a lot of time with my family and loved ones. I couldn’t really ask for more.
But I did. I asked for Ruby get better. My partner had taken her to the vet to have her checked out for an eye infection; a bottle of eye drops later, and she was back home. However, after my arrival to Illinois and our apartment, I could see that things were not improving. We took her in two more times, and were told to be hopeful, but were also told that it could be cancer.
Her condition only worsened in those few, short days, and we made the decision on Sunday, July 2nd at 10:00 pm, to take her to the after-hours vet and end her suffering.
We had to choose to end her suffering. Watching her struggle to live, I was hoping with all my being that she would pull through, and I wouldn’t have to make that decision. I didn’t want her to go; I wanted to bring her out to Colorado with me and watch her roam around a new apartment, and I wanted her to see the mountains and the magpies. Knowing that she’ll never see that breaks my heart all over again. She was only eight years old, and she only shared two of those with us.
But they were two wonderful years; she inspired this blog, she had the loudest purr of any of our cats, and she was the best cuddle buddy. She was my friend, my fur baby, and my goopy-eyed kitten.
Letting her go, and in turn telling you all about it, has been the hardest thing I’ve every had to do. Tears splatter my keyboard as I type. But in telling you all, and in Ruby’s passing, there is peace. The day after she passed, I felt a calm that I hadn’t felt since I had found out she was sick. I no longer had to watch her in a declining stage of health, wishing for days when she was better. She was no longer struggling for the life that was clearly out of her reach.
I felt so selfish that next day. I felt like I was betraying her for feeling better once she was gone, but the thing is, the suffering for us all had ended as well. There were no longer any decisions to be made, struggles to be witnessed, prayers to be prayed. She was at peace, and we could be too.
Ruby’s passing has helped me better understand the passing of others, people who have gone before her that I was still struggling to come to terms with, in my own way. I now know that death brings a quiet peace with it and a knowledge that the suffering is over for my loved ones; other than asking for their presence, I can’t ask for more than that.
The thing about loss is it never really gets easier; the only difference is that life continues to fill the days we’re given, and those new days act as padding for our loss. Certain experiences will cut through that padding and dig right into that pain and make it raw again. No amount of time will heal the wound, but that’s what keeps their memories alive.
I say leave the wound uncovered, let it breathe, and just be careful not to let it get infected. Let out the tears, sobs, and anger, but don’t let it consume you. Remember your loved ones, don’t forget or cover them up. And if, ten years from now, you’re still crying, don’t feel ashamed. Those people still lived. Those experiences with them still happened and were real. There is no need to suppress memories and feelings.
Loss doesn’t have to be a sign of weakness. There is strength in acknowledging the pain.
With that, I’ll sign off and say one last goodbye to my sweet baby girl.
Ruby: Beloved Feline, Supercharged Purrbox, and Bathroom Monitor
Rest In Peace: 2017