Learning From Pain & Emptiness

I’m still struggling with the loss of Nora over the weekend.

Growing up, we seemed to acquire pets faster than we lost them. (Much to Dad’s chagrin, no doubt.) The pace of acquisition slowed once I was on my own. (And had to feed and care for them.)

I got Tigger, a half-siamese, full-asshole, barn stray cat, shortly after moving out on my own for the first time. I got Scout, a timid, medium hair, apartment complex stray cat a couple years later.

Scout showed signs of old age and failing health in the months leading up to the morning I found her in the Arizona room, 15 years later. It was sad, but she had a good life and I knew it was coming.

Tigger, full of piss and vinegar, didn’t really start falling apart until a year or so later, when we learned she had cancer “at both ends.” She made it to 17 years before I finally had to have her put down to spare her suffering.

That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But Tigger had 16 really good years before that and, again, I knew it was coming.

Nora was different.

Nora was 18 months old. Nora was still a happy, healthy puppy. Nora had a cold nose and played fetch with me the morning she died. She wasn’t 100%, but she made me think whatever she ate was past and she was getting back to being her usual, spastic self.

Hindsight is a motherfucker.

Knowing she died because, A) she ate a piece of clothing we either didn’t clean up or didn’t secure in a hamper and, B) could have been saved with routine surgery if we had $5000-$6000 in available credit makes this hard for me to let go.

If only I’d been more proactive about keeping her out of bedrooms when we weren’t in them. If only I’d appreciated her high energy levels more instead of appreciating her “calming down.” If only I’d not blown my credit on stupid shit I can’t even remember anymore. If only I didn’t have $700/month in student loan payments.

Ugh. If only.

If I learn nothing from her death, I do her memory an even greater disservice.

I need to feel this pain. But I can’t allow myself to wallow in misery and regret, either. I need to understand why it hurts. I need to get shit done through the ebb and flow of this emptiness within me today. And I need to come out of this experience on the other side better for having been through it.

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