“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief. But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love.” – Hilary Stanton Zunin
This post is hard to write, and to be honest I don’t know how much of my personal life I should share – but it didn’t feel right to go on pretending that nothing has changed in my life since my last post and go on talking about food without sharing my true feelings. Plus, as a writer this is how I have always processed difficult times – yes, before I would have written it down in a notebook and kept it to myself but now I have this blog, an audience to share it with. So here it goes…
A week ago from tonight (Tuesday), about 10:30 pm I was already in bed, falling asleep when Paul came up the stairs with wide eyes and looking pale. “Emily, Granite was hit by a car…he’s gone.” He said it so faintly that I could barely hear him. I immediately jumped out of bed to put some clothes on and grab some sandals. Initially I didn’t believe him, somehow he must be mistaken, it can’t be our cat! Our cat is fast and smart and young. Waiting up for Granite wasn’t unusual, Paul would walk around the block a couple of times and Granite would eventually come to greet him. At first I used to worry but when he always came back I began to trust. Paul led me to where Granite lay, just down the street from our garage, so close to home – Granite looked stiff, a pool of blood near his head. I began to sob, my entire body shuddered. I probably woke up our neighbors. This poor little cat. Is ours. Our Granite. It was Paul who made efforts to move forward. He gently placed Granite in a too small shoe box and carried him to our back yard. Between hugs and sniffles Paul slowly began to dig a grave for Granite in our back yard. All I could do was hold the flash light. I am thankful it was too dark to thoroughly see Granite’s small body. From then on I knew that nothing would be normal or the same. That night we barely slept and woke with aching hearts and tears in our eyes.For the first few days I felt so guilty that I couldn’t protect my cat, my fur baby who trusted me. Thoughts ran through my head: if only we would have gotten him in the house sooner that night. Maybe we should have made him an indoor cat. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t protect you. But the thing is Granite was a very energetic cat, at the age of 3 he still acted very much like a kitten, he was happiest when he could go outside. He was always mad us when it was raining out all day or when we left him for the weekend. And anyone who has had a cat will understand that you can’t fence in a cat the same way you can a dog, they can jump over almost everything, fit between a small hole in a fence. Cats are free spirited. We live right across the street from a middle school with stop signs and slow traffic and plenty of sidewalks, we always hoped and trusted that the cars were slow enough and Granite was fast enough so we never worried about letting him outside. So, I realized that I couldn’t feel guilt, we couldn’t keep Granite locked up if he was going to be truly happy. We gave him the best life we could have.
Granite came to my parent’s house as a stray kitten just before Thanksgiving weekend several years ago. My parents live in a secluded, wooded area – they have had 4 stray cats show up at their house, including Granite. We joke that there must be an invisible sign that only cats can see pointing them to my parents house. I grew up with one cat and just before he died of sickness and old age another stray cat showed up. My mom took him in and has ended up taking in every other cat that has shown up since then. She tried to find homes for them, or send them to the Humane Society but everyone was full. At the time Granite showed up at my parent’s house they already had 4 cats. Paul and I happened to be spending Thanksgiving at my parent’s house that year. The night they found Granite it was going to be negative 7 degrees, my mom let him in so he wouldn’t freeze. Paul and I visited Granite in the laundry room that he was quarantined to, away from the other cats. And we instantly fell in love with this little gray kitten. Despite Paul’s allergies and that we lived in an apartment that didn’t allow cats we decided to adopt Granite. We always said that Granite found us. Most cats are attached to one person more than the other, it’s usually the person who feeds the cat – we both fed him. Granite loved to cuddle and play with both of us pretty equally. He would hide behind furniture and pounced on our legs as we walked by. He made us laugh and smile every single day. He was special to us, and I couldn’t have asked for a better cat.
This past week has been very difficult as we grieve for our furry companion. Anyone who has had a pet can relate to the comfort, love and unique friendship they give you. A pet is part of your every day life. They depend on you for shelter, food and water, for toys, for you to take them to the vet when they are sick, for love. They are there every single day. What I didn’t realize is how much I depended on Granite – how much company a small cat, even when he’s sleeping provided. Especially because I work from home I really needed his presence, even if he was upstairs sleeping and I was downstairs in my office. Our house is so quiet without him. It’s officially been one week and I can still feel the weight of him in my arms, the softness of his fur, the calmness of his purr, hear his meow. I still expect him to come prancing through the front door when I open it. I still look for him in his favorite spots throughout the house. I still expect to feel the weight of him jump up on our bed as I am falling asleep. I still expect him to push open the door in the morning and rub against by legs while I go to the bathroom – cat people understand this. Everything in our house reminds me of him, because he was everywhere – always there.
As I am writing this I am surprised that I have dry eyes – maybe I am out of tears – or maybe I should have written this days ago to help with the pain. Every day since last Tuesday has gotten a little easier, yet there are moments that are harder than others. It has taken everything I have to get out of bed in the morning, to do the normal every day things such as eat – and you know I love food – shower, get off the couch or even work. Things will never feel the same without Granite, they can’t feel the same. Things don’t feel normal at all – but as much as it hurts to tell myself this I know there will be a new normal. I know that this pain, this sadness is only temporary. That time will heal my broken heart. I will always miss Granite, but it won’t hurt as much.
I remind myself that Granite was a stray cat. My mom saved his life by bringing him in the house that cold night, and we gave him a good home and a good life. He was a very happy cat. I swear I could see him smile when he was curled up on the couch with Paul and I. Even though his life was much shorter than anyone could have anticipated I am very grateful that we gave him all of our love, and shared our every day life with him. Our relationship with Granite was cherished, it was special and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world. I find comfort in that.
We are taking one day and one step at a time to create that new normal in our lives. I hope to return back to my regular posting schedule soon. Funny thing is we leave for a trip to San Antonio, Texas on Saturday. I am tagging along on Paul’s work trip. We have 2 days that he doesn’t have a work commitment, but for the rest of it I am on my own for most of the day. I love to travel, but I am not used to traveling alone – it may be silly, but it scares me a little. Before I was looking forward to this trip, this new challenge. Now I feel even more scared than before. I am afraid to spend all day alone in an unfamiliar city left to my thoughts. But then I think of Granite and the time we saw him circling a tree full of raccoons looking very proud. And I know that if that little feisty cat can conquer his fears so can I. So, between grieving and taking care of myself and this upcoming trip I will do my best to get back to a normal posting schedule, soon. We can only move forward. I appreciate your understanding.
I debated writing this post all week. I finally decided to, not only because it felt right but because I hope that through my experience, my story you can relate. You can find some comfort in knowing that if you have ever lost a pet or anyone close to you that you are not alone in this experience, in your feelings. That time does heal and that people’s sympathetic words and their hugs really do help. That you will find the beauty in the little things in life again. Things do get easier. And I hope my story is a reminder to truly cherish each and every day, to love everyone in your life with all you’ve got. Soak it all in. Don’t take any of it for granted, be present in each moment. Thank you for listening, it helps more than you know.
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison