These are some pretty unimaginable words for me to have to write at this time, and I wasn't sure that I was going to post something about this at all. When I tried to write other posts (or do anything in general) and came across his photo though... it just left me feeling like I need to get these words off my chest, and share my feelings with others.
On Saturday, April 6th Keith and I woke up to find that our cat Theo had passed away.
If you've ever read our blog before or know anything about us... you know about our cat. He was a huge part of our lives and a genuine member of our family. He's been with us since before we got married, and we've only ever really lived together without him for maybe 6 months. Theo came to us as a 22nd birthday present for me. We were living in Philadelphia at the time, Keith worked lots of late nights and with my graduate school schedule I was home a lot and got really lonely. I remember the day we got him so well! Keith was off, so I took the day off too and when we woke up he told me he had a surprise and we got ready for a drive out to the mall he was currently working at. We stopped at Chick-fil-A for a breakfast treat, and by then I was SO antsy and had a small hunch that this was going to involve bringing a new friend home. We drove through a strange neighborhood for awhile before stopping at a strangers house who Keith called to come out and meet us. She walked us over to the house next door and we went into their garage to peek into a box with the smallest tiniest kittens I had ever seen! They had been born under this families porch and they were looking for homes for them all. Initially they wanted us to take both of the boys, but we were only interested in getting one (a decision we later regretted when we realized how hyper Theo was going to be...) Regardless, I picked up one little guy and knew he needed to be mine. We took him home that day and he's changed our lives considerably since then.
I think it goes without saying that Theo wasn't always the easiest pet. After lots of moving around homes he was a little cranky around people he didn't know and his favorite toy in the whole world was peoples hands. He was known to attack your ankles if you talked on the phone too long and his newest dislike is if I spent too much time working at my computer (to which he would try to steal the mouse from my hand). But despite all the snakes, the mice, the BIRDS and other mayhem he brought to our home, he was ours and he loved us so much. He had lots of ways that he would show that love: special cuddles in the morning, naps on my lap under a blanket, and the excited way he would greet us and not let us out of his sight when we got home from a trip.
I think being home alone now is going to be really hard, 90% of the odd noises that we hear in our house were from him. We knew his sounds so well, like, when he came in the cat door or jumped off the counter or the little noises he made when he was stretching. I feel so frustrated because my brain is still "hearing" those things and its such a cruel trick. We have so many routines that revolved around him: 7pm is dinner time, all the blinds have to be raised at least a foot because he loved to sit in the window sills (and wreck the blinds if they weren't out of the way). I always started my morning by feeding him and having him sit in the sink with me while I got ready. Even going to the grocery store and not going down the pet food aisle, it breaks my heart. It was so easy for us to add him to our lives, but learning how to live without him has been much harder... we all had our place in this home, and there is a giant Theo sized hole here. Now we have no need for pet insurance and all those medicine droppers that we had to use when he needed antibiotics. Now all the toilet paper tubes and hair ties on the floor look less like favorite toys and more like trash we've just neglected. There are reminders of him everywhere I go, and it's absolutely laughable the things that will trigger my craziness. Let's make a quick list of some of the things that have made me cry this month: 1. a fly in our bedroom when I was trying to take a nap (because he would have loved to try and catch it) 2. having a bowl of ice cream and not having him there to beg to lick the bowl. 3. a beautiful sunny day with SO many chirping birds (he would have been out terrorizing them for sure) 4. finding his cat food prescription in my wallet when I was looking for a coupon. 5. deep cleaning our house and finding his fur just about everywhere... I could go on.
This is all so fresh, and it happened so suddenly that I just don't really know the best way to grieve. I feel ridiculous for getting upset every time I walk down the hall, or pass by his favorite chair. Part of me just expects him to be there when I get up from the couch because he knows that means it time for his nighttime snack. I don't want to forget him, but I'm ready for these memories to become happy and funny instead of how extremely sad and piercing they currently feel. I just cannot wrap my head around the idea that he's gone, that he's not just outside or away at the vet.
If anyone is interested in a brief version of the story, we're 99% positive that he was poisoned by something. Whether it was an animal he ate, or just something bad that he got into while he was outside... either way it moved quickly without any signs to us or anyway that we could have helped him. That Friday night he was acting completely normal, he ate his dinner and laid with us on the couch. Early Saturday he woke me up begging for food and I closed him out of our room, and when I got up to go to the bathroom at 6:30 I noticed that he had gone poop on the floor (which has never happened in 4 years). I got Keith up because it just didn't seem normal and that's when Keith found him, already gone. We had a very emotional morning, and it felt like everything was moving in slow motion. I refused to believe that Theo was actually gone and made Keith wrap him up in his favorite blanket so that I could see him and say my goodbyes. We eventually buried him in the backyard which was probably his favorite place on the planet, and now we have a place to visit him (whenever I can manage that without completely losing it)
In the meantime, we are living in a pet free home which feels quite sad. In an effort to look on the bright side I hope that this makes the transition of adding the baby to our home this summer a little easier. I was just a tiny bit worried about how Theo was going to react to all of the changes, and now I can wipe away any of those fears. But truly, I would gladly worry about Theo bringing in pet snakes for our son if it meant he could come back and live with us forever.
I miss him, and I think I'll miss him for quite some time. Before too long our hearts will heal and we'll be able to invite a new pet into our lives. Bear with me now, here are some of my favorite photos of Theo that I have on my computer from the past year....
Lastly I just want to say thank you to everyone who has offered kind words to us this past month and checked in to see how we're doing. Thank you to all our friends who ever came by our house while we were away to watch Theo and make sure he had plenty of food. That means more to us than you'll know and we're sure he appreciated it too. And of course, thank you to everyone who has ever hung out at our house or stayed for the weekend and had put up with the full harassment from our favorite cat, he was still learning how to be sweet and we appreciate that you didn't hold that against him haha.