Saturday, June 28, 2014

To Emelie, Thank You for Everything.

Yesterday, I lost one of my best friends. A part of our family for the past 11 years. Someone who had been fighting cancer for almost two years, and boy was she a fighter. I’m talking about Emelie, my first cat. For many of you, you may not understand or ridicule those who refer to their pets as parts of their families, or best friends, or use words that refer to them as people. But some of you may understand how I feel right now. Emelie was so much more to me than a pet. She represented so many things in my life. I had to say goodbye yesterday, one last time, and although we had so much time to prepare for that final goodbye, it didn’t make it any easier.

In September 2012 I had noticed that Emelie had some type of lump growing on her forehead, and it worried me. We took her to the vet to get her checked out, and the vet immediately told us she had six weeks to live. Devastated is an understatement. We were told we could try and bring her to a specialist, but there would be no guarantee, plus we did not have that much money to spend on vet bills. So we took her home. We waited. We gave her extra love (although this baby had all the love in the world already) and made sure she got her favorite foods (which was kind of just about everything.) But the six weeks went by and she continued. The tumor kept growing, and I dreaded the worst. I worried she wouldn’t make it to Christmas. But she did. She made it for that Christmas, and the next one, too. Emelie lived for almost 2 years after that vet visit. Not a mere six weeks.

At times, we thought it would be the end. Sometimes she got worse and we feared this was it. I cried for Emelie many times throughout the past two years. I said goodbye so many times. But she kept bouncing back. She never stopped eating or asking for human food (her favorite meal was probably homemade meatballs with pasta sauce, but she sure loved cheese, too.) She got cuddlier than ever, and would sleep on the pillow next to mine many, many times. She was even strong enough to attack my cousin’s dog one thanksgiving, because as sweet as a cat she was, she was very territorial of her home. She was the queen of the castle. 

One of my favorite things about Emelie was that she was a very loud purring cat. Her purr radiated love and joy and warmth. Most of the time all I had to do was touch her fur and she’d start purring for me. She loved me, and I love her. She was with me since I was 12 years old. Almost half my life time. She was there for it all, especially all the hard times I faced as a teenager. We even had a song. Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe.” I’d pick her up and sing it to her. I’m sure she hated it. But she still endured my cheesiness.

For the past month or so, we noticed Emelie had started getting skinnier. She kept eating more than our other two cats and she still acted normal. But then these past couple of days we noticed how bad it had gotten. It got to the point where she just laid out on the cold hard floor because she probably had a fever. She still tried to eat (a foodie till the very end) but at some point she just couldn’t anymore. She started purring all the time, which I knew meant she was in pain. Finally, she meowed at me. A meow I knew meant it was over, it was time. Although we had hoped she would go on her own, peacefully and naturally, I couldn’t bare to watch my love be in that condition any longer. I made one of the toughest decisions of my life, and with the help of my dad who drove us to the vet, I took her on her last car ride.

I was about to put her in the pet carrier, but I didn’t want that for her. Instead, I wrapped her up in a soft towel and held her in my arms like a baby. That’s the way I held her the entire time until we got there. I stayed by her side for it all. I stayed until the end. Even after she was gone, I stayed. I had to say my last goodbye. And that image will stay with me forever.

As hard as it is right now, and as broken as my heart is, I am so grateful I got to experience the unconditional love that only an animal can bring us. I also finally realized something my last day with her. When she first got sick, I had made a type of deal with her/God, that I’m not going to get into it because it’s private and really kind of silly now that I look back on it, but today I told her the deal was off. She could go now. Because I realized, Emelie, that the love I had been looking for for so long was right in front of me this entire time. Not just from you, but from everyone around me. My parents. My friends. My pets. I am surrounded by love. Just because it is not the type of love you necessarily desire, doesn’t mean you do not have love. And that is something Emelie taught me. I don’t need that certain type of love. I may want it, sure, but I don’t need it. I don’t need it because I have every other ounce of love in the world, overflowing and ensuring me that I will never be alone, even if I feel like I am at times. Now more than ever, I know that I am never alone. 

You gave me more strength today, Emelie. You also showed me the answers I had been searching for. I miss you so much. But I know. I know that you are with me now, and always will be. I carry your heart in mine.

I have your favorite pink mouse toy right here next to me, and I promise I’ll take good care of it. You touched my heart and soul, and I will never forget you.

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