(Note: I wanted to post this sooner but every time I tried to go through photos of her to add I broke down and couldn't do it.)
Fourteen years ago, which seems like a lifetime ago, I was getting ready to go on an interview when I heard a high pitched meow coming from beyond my porch. I stepped outside and peered over the side only to discover a tiny gray fluff ball who looked up at me and meowed a bold hello. I scooped the kitten up into my hands and she immediately cuddled against me purring loudly. I was in love.
For the next fourteen years Zoe was a force to be reckoned with. She was loud, stubborn, and demanding. She'd tell me when I needed to fill the food dishes and the water bowls. She'd meow to tell me to change the litter or brush her long fur that tangled and knotted easily. Sometimes she'd meow just to meow. And sometimes she'd drive me crazy with her constant loud voice because I was trying to concentrate.
But now I'd do just about anything in the world to hear her voice one more time.
I miss her so much.
I try to put on a brave face, I try to live day to day, but inside I'm broken. Every other thought is of her. My smile is fake and my eyes always only a blink away from tears.
Just a few months ago I lost Satchel... and now Zoe. I've had, and have still, a lot of cats but there was a group of them that I called the originals: Comet, Lucy, Satchel, and Zoe. The first four. I lost Comet and Lucy in 2008 only months apart. Six years later the cycle repeated itself and I lost Satchel and Zoe only months apart. How cruel is that? I had only just begun to feel slightly normal again after losing Satchel to a long battle with kidney failure and now this? And yet the vet gave Zoe a good prognosis. Her illnesses were treatable (hepatic lipidosis, pancreatitis, and hyperthyroidism). Yes she was an older cat but she had a chance for survival. I had hope. But now all I have is heartache.
With each one I lose, another piece of my heart breaks off. How much is left?
Yet on the other hand, is it not worth it?
She gave me fourteen years of unconditional love and companionship. She was my special girl. My beautiful Zoe. She just appeared one day, took a shine to me, and stayed. I've had a fuller life having had her in it. Every moment was worth it. I just miss her so much.
She had a giant personality. She commanded attention. She would sit in the middle of the living room and staredown visitors while most of the other cats would hide in the bedroom. She even stared down the dreaded vacuum cleaner while the others raced away in terror. She would greet me at the door every time I was away and if I went on vacation she'd get so angry at me when I first returned, holding it against me for ever having left at all, but after a few days she'd jump up on the couch, find her way onto my lap and cuddle with me, her loud engine purring all the while. I would say to her, "Zoe, can you say mama?" And she would reply, "Marow-ma."
On her last day I had a feeling it was the end. She was acting strange. She walked differently. She fell over in the kitchen. She wasn't herself. I placed her on her favorite cushion, laid on the floor next to her, peered up into her big, yellow eyes and told her I would always love her no matter what. I told her I'd never put her to sleep because I couldn't. If she had to go, it had to be on her terms. I couldn't let go. That night I carried her into the bedroom and put her in her favorite chair next to the bed. She stayed with me for awhile but in the middle of the night I heard her jump out, well, it sounded more like she stumbled out. I looked down and she was resting on her side on the floor by the bed. I reached down to pet her and see if she was okay. She seemed fine so I fell back to sleep. In the morning she wasn't there. I walked out into the living room to look for her. She looked like she was sleeping peacefully by the couch. I went about my morning chores and, when it was time to give her her medicine and food, I went to rouse her from slumber, but she never woke up. She was gone. My baby girl left me. At least she's not in pain anymore, but mine has only just begun.
The pain of loss never goes away, you just get used to it.