This morning, tears filled my eyes as I leaned over to distribute breakfast servings of dry food into the other three cats’ bowls, and left Fancy’s bowl empty. Sure, I feel the temptation to put that bowl away. Just like the replacement-minded crowd, all of my old programming still cycles through my consciousness. We certainly share the impulse to erase that which calls the chest to ache, the eyes to fill, and the throat to squeeze back the hurt. Whether it is by design or by our training, the tendency to push back the emotion lives in most of us. But, we are better than that. We are capable of releasing that which no longer serves us, of letting go of the past, and healing from our losses.
Let us refuse to betray ourselves by running away from emotion that we are strong enough to face.
Let us recommit to our healing, to staying with this process until we are free to move on without the weight of denial.
Right now, as I write this, tears are pouring down my cheeks. Some of them are about Fancy, and my sweet wife’s broken heart, but others are far older. Some are tears from years ago, when people and things I loved left me and I didn’t have the ability, support, courage, or whatever else to release them. It seems as if this loss, provided I am willing to stay and experience it, will carry the old tears away with it.
Every tear you never cried is waiting for you… and they are heavy.
For today, we will leave her bowl right there in the kitchen where it’s been since before the children and I moved in nearly five years ago. When we feed the other cats, our hearts will certainly ache for a while, not because the bowl is there (and not because we didn’t get a kitten) but because Fancy is gone. And that’s going to be okay.
If we want to stop hurting, we need to heal.
Until then, we will notice how her deeply obnoxious and, somehow still, terribly charming howls no longer echo in the halls. Once we have the… whatever it takes… to mop up her final round of Fancy-peed-on-her-back-paws-and-tracked-litter-box-dust-across-hardwood-floors paw prints, it will be bittersweet when they aren’t masterfully reapplied eight minutes later.
And I don’t know how long it’s going to take for Fancy’s best friend to stop rotating between watching the front door and staring out the back window at the spot where Fancy is buried… but that cat is absolutely breaking my heart. For today, I’m going to dig deep and find the courage to let it.