Kato had battled digestive issues for eight years and this last year, I had watched it grow progressively worse. The medicine and the special diet was not doing the job and Kato started having more bad days than good. Three trips to the vet and no real improvements. I came home from a business trip near the end of January and he had a horrible night. The next morning he gave me what I call “the look.” Having had three other cats and three dogs, I have seen “the look” before. “The look” that says, “ I am done. I am ready for my pain to be over, I am ready to leave this earth.” With that, we made our final trip to the vet and I said goodbye to my first little boy.
Before Kato, I had always had girl animals. I had never really considered a male cat, but circumstances brought him to me and I learned almost immediately, that just like humans, boys and girls are born with different personalities. It is just in the DNA.
He was a “Mama’s boy.” He came to me when he was sick, needing affection or just plain looking for some attention. He never really took to the D-Man. He hated going to the vet, but loved the attention of the girls who worked in the office.
He grew up with dogs and loved Chelsea, the dog I had when I brought him home. When she left us and I got Samantha, Kato tolerated her, but was not overly attached to her. I think he looked at her and said, “She’s alright. But she’s no Chelsea.”
After we lost both his cat sister Kiara and Sami, we were alone for a while. Kato did not seem comfortable being without another sibling. When I brought Kody home, he seemed to really take to having a brother. For the first time, I was a “boy mom,” with my dynamic duo.
It is always difficult to say goodbye to the pets we love so much. I came home after it was done and threw away the litter in the litter box. I threw away his dishes, his scratching post, and his toys. I hung his little collar by the door.
Then I cleaned and did laundry. I was probably an hour into my chores when it occurred to me that this wasn’t the first time I cleaned when I was grieving.
A day after my father’s funeral, I went through his den. I threw out old magazines, I put some things aside that I wanted to keep. I boxed up his clothes to take to the Goodwill.
I remember my mother standing in the doorway and asking, “Why are you doing this now?”
“I don’t know,” I said. I didn’t know at the time, but I realized it made me feel better to bring some control and order to my broken heart.
After my mother died, I did the same thing. It was more out of necessity, having to clean out her entire home, but thinking about it, once again, it helped.
It occurred to me that a lot of people would think it is cold and unfeeling to get rid of things that should remind you of the person or pet you lost, but I find that packing things up and putting them out of sight, allows me to focus on happy memories. Staring at Kato’s empty dish or looking at a stack of my dad’s old magazines made me feel worse, not better. I did what was right for me.
Of course this was all going on right in the middle of the tragic helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other people. Los Angeles was grieving, as was a lot of the country. People gathered at the Staples Center leaving notes, flowers and basketballs. Some people brought out Laker gear and wore Kobe’s jerseys. Folks got new tattoos and posted on social media. Some people grieved quietly, not even wanting to talk about it out loud.
The husband of one of the victim’s spoke with the morning news shows, expressing the fear he had of how he was going to manage his life without his wife and talking about their life together. The Bryant family silent. Two different reactions to the exact same tragedy.
As we go through our lives, we will all grieve. Not just losing someone we loved, but losing a job, losing a house, losing a marriage. We live in a society that tends to judge and talk a lot about the “right “way to do things.
So what is “right” way to grieve?
There is only one “right” way. Your way.
Now I think I have some cleaning to do.