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I was fortunate in that I had a lot of distractions after Meeko's passing, but when the sadness hit me, it hit me hard. The grief felt fresh, and it was like I was just processing it over and over and over.
Meeko was our only cat, and while we knew we'd probably get another cat at some point (although we weren't talking about it yet, not out loud), we put all of her things away. The cat condo was wrapped up and stored in the garage. Same with the litter box and the food. Of course, cats are small and, therefore, so are their things, so we kept finding little items — jingly toys, packets of catnip — stashed here and there. And each time I found something new, it was a fresh flood of emotion, which felt ridiculous at that point, but there was nothing I could do.
I'd gotten used to finding little kitty trinkets. I still felt sad, but I rarely cried. And so, when in the course of cleaning, I come upon a scattering of kitty litter on the carpet where Meeko's litter box had been, I was shocked at the tears that immediately started rolling down my face. It's kitty litter! This was the one part of cat ownership I positively detested — in fact, we got an automatic litter box because I had such issues with it, and then to be crying over it? For Pete's sake, really?
My husband and I both had to leave town, so, as usual, I left instructions for the house/dog-sitter. But, for the first time, I didn't have to include a whole, long section on Meeko's schedule and meds and care. I felt a wave of ... well, relief isn't the word, but I felt like I might be moving on.
However, while out of town, I stayed with friends who had small lapdogs, and I realized how much I've missed Meeko curling up on my lap every evening. Great. Back to square one.
One of the tricky parts of working as an editor on a pet site, as I do at Vetstreet, is that even when you're dealing with the loss of a pet, you're surrounded by reminders. For example, attending Global Pet Expo. I couldn't help but look at the different cat-related products and think, "Man, Meeko would have loved this!" or, "Oh, she would never have used that." I even came across an adoptable cat at one of the booths, and my eyes misted up. But I realized that when I looked at the toys, I envisioned a young, healthy Meeko playing with them, and that's the Meeko I wanted to hold in my heart.
I'm not done grieving. Shoot, I still tear up over pets who died decades ago, so I'm not sure I'm ever really done. I'll always, always miss Meeko, regardless of the number of days she's been gone or the cats that have crossed my lap. But I'm definitely healing — I can feel it more every day — the good memories are beginning to overtake the images of her last few days. I know that one day, Jared and I will be ready to take in another kitty (or two!) in need of a home. In fact, we've started having conversations about whether we want to look at kittens, as Jared does because he has such fond memories of Meeko as a kitten, or adult cats, which I'm leaning toward. One day I'll have a cat knocking things off my desk again. Not today, not just yet, but soon.
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