Smile though your heart is breaking…

On Wednesday morning, with my bags packed at the door, I lay on the floor of my bedroom with my companion of 21 yrs and thanked him for being such a good little buddy. I pet him for as long as he would allow, then I kissed him on his furry little brow and told him if he was ready, he could go, and I would understand, and that I loved him.

Shortly after midnight Monday, I walked through my door and into my bedroom,  and as I had sensed would happen, he had passed while I was away

I sobbed for hours last night until I exhausted myself enough to sleep for about 2 and then the minute my eyes opened the tears started again.
I managed to get dressed and then sat frozen on the couch staring at the bag by the door that contained my towel wrapped fur baby that I would have to somehow compose myself enough to commute across the city with to hand over for cremation.

Most mornings I’m impatient with my commute, but this morning I really didn’t want it to end.

So there I sat, the bag on my lap, the contents secret to everyone but me, silently crying, friends virtually holding my hand via blackberry, while trying not to pass out, lest it be discovered that the lady who fainted had a dead cat in her bag.

I walked into the animal hospital and just started to cry, and incoherently pointed to the bag and made some squeaks and gestures, which the lovely girl behind the desk decoded somehow and brought me into a private room to fill out the paperwork and say a final goodbye.

That was the hardest part… giving a final squeeze then walking down the hall and out the door without my fur baby…

With all of my interactions with people barely audible whispers or gesturing and nodding from behind dark glasses, I was trying to figure out if it was worth attempting to go to the office or not. In the meantime, I sat in a coffee shop, clearly looking like the saddest woman in the world judging by the concerned looks, trying to choke down a coffee and figure out how to move forward.

My boss was actually quite lovely, and let me off the hook as soon as I walked in but I told him I would just stay for a bit, check messages, etc… I ended up working for about 4hrs. He asked how I was and I kinda shrugged and started to cry, then he asked if I wanted a hug, and I just broke down and sobbed on his shoulder. Once I had that really good release, I was able to breathe a little deeper.

He has never had a pet, but he said he understood the bond, and told me not to feel silly or stupid (that was my word in my email to him at 1:30am this morning telling him I would be late) about feeling the loss. Then he asked me all about him (Skitzo) so I was able to talk about him, and laugh a little.

Work was a good distraction. But by 2:30pm the tired hit, and I could’t focus and I just had to get out and get some air.

I stopped in at the animal hospital and thanked the vet again for being so sweet this morning, and apologized for being completely incoherent. (I’m pretty sure I didn’t form a complete sentence) She gave me a big hug and said she was glad I stopped back and that I was ok, and that they were glad to be there for me.

When I got about a block from home and turned around. I decided I needed some more walk in the sun time. I made eye contact and smiled at a few people and felt a little more grounded. Then I took myself for a late lunch/early dinner at a new place I’ve been wanting to try, and started with a margarita appetizer.  I had lovely conversations about food and music with the charming and attentive manager and bartender. At one point “Smile” started to play over the sound system. That song is heartbreaking on the best of days, today? the tears stung instantly. Immediately following that song was “Put on a Happy Face” which caused me to get those nervous teary giggles you get when you don’t know what emotion to run with. It also prompted me to tell my two new acquaintances the story behind my “incredibly sad day” that had earned me this dinner out. They were lovely, and said all the right things, and I didn’t cry but rather shared some of my favourite Skitzo stories.

I started to feel the emotions well up as I approached my door. Of course you can only walk in and discover your dead cat once, so that was comforting. He had stopped coming to the door to greet me weeks ago, so it wasn’t as jarring a return as it might have been.

My intention was to do the “big clean” tonight, but exhaustion took over and I fell asleep the moment I sat down. When I woke up it was dark and I was still tired, and decided that distracting mind numbing tv was the order of business for the night.

It’s quiet now. Not that he was noisy in any way, but he had a palpable presence which is now gone. That’s what makes me emotional now… the emptiness. I guess this is what parents feel when the kids go off to college or get married. Only mine’s not coming back for a visit.

I feel truly alone and it’s completely unsettling. That said, I realized at one point this afternoon I was walking around clutching my blackberry so tightly in my hand it left an imprint… it’s like my friends were all virtually holding my hand through this difficult day.

and with that thought, once again, sleep beckons..

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