At the risk of sounding like a crazy cat lady, I’m going to talk a little more about my recently deceased friend and loved one, Tank the cat.
If you haven’t read my blog post regarding his tragic passing, please check it out first to catch up to speed.
That Thursday afternoon is such a blur for me. Sections of time seem to be missing. I know that I was incredibly nervous to pick my son Ben up from school, and was trying to conjure up the perfect way to break the news to him. After he hopped into the car, he instantly asked me what was wrong. It’s amazing how children have that capability, isn’t it? He already knew I had shitty news, and I tried so desperately to give it to him the best way I could.
Me: “Ben, Tank passed away today.”
Ben: “What?!? What happened mom? How old was he?” (Age was an important factor for him. I’m sure when you are 6, only old people and old pets die.)
Me: “He was 13, which is really old in cat years. He was really, really sick, and the doctor had to give him special medicine that helps pets go to sleep, only they don’t wake up from this sleep.”
Ben: “What if he wakes up?”
Me: “I wish he would Bug, but he won’t. This special medicine is given to special pets who are really sick, and need help so they won’t be sick and hurt anymore.”
Ben was very quiet on the ride home, as was I. I didn’t know if I said the right things, or if he understood. I cautioned him that Tank was in a box for us to bury in our backyard. I wanted to give him forewarning, so he wouldn’t be so shocked and scared.
When we got home, he asked me, “What if the box starts jumping around?” I assured him it wouldn’t, and we quickly assembled together to prepare a burial for Tank. Ben and I wrote on the box; afterwards Ben joined Kevin down by the gaping hole in the ground, and I picked up the box, which felt much heavier than Tank ever did in my arms.
The bottom was still slightly warm, and this saddened me so much. That morning, he was still alive. He was huddled under my legs while I drove to the vet office, meowing at me. I petted him when I could, and this quieted him down and it was as if he knew that I would take care of him. I’d make sure all was well.
At the last second, I remembered something; I placed the box gently onto the deck, and ran back into the house, headed for the coat closet. Inside, I found Tank’s old glove, hanging outside of the cubby hole I’d stashed it in. The welder’s glove was a special toy of his, that he loved to lunge at and play with. I ran back outside and placed it on top of the box and picked it back up, carrying it down the stairs to the ground below.
Such heartache, but I had no more tears to cry. I’d done so much earlier that morning and into early afternoon. My soul hurt, as I placed him into the ground. Ben asked if he could help shovel the dirt, so he and I did so, covering the box until there was no more of it to be seen.
I constructed a makeshift cross and tied it together with an old fabric headband of mine. It worked really well. I stuck the cross deep into the ground, at the front of the grave, and just stood there, staring. “It’s the end of the line, old friend” I said quietly to myself.
Friday morning I watched as the garbage truck pulled to a stop in front of my house, and emptied the contents of our cans into it’s belly. On top was Tank’s litter box. Kevin had taken care of that for me. As I watched it go, I started sobbing. It was so final, you know? Just like washing laundry later that day, and not having a cumbersome box in the way, or a food and water dish taking up valuable floor space. I’d sometimes get so annoyed by those things, and all I wished for was to have that back.
Grocery shopping Saturday morning, I attempted to turn down the pet aisle, for litter. There was no need for it, anymore.
It’s getting better, little by little. I’m not nearly as emotional. I can talk about it now without tearing up. My heart still hurts, but I’ve come to accept it. I felt so silly and foolish, for grieving the loss of my pet. So many people lose relatives, friends, loved ones. People they have known for years and years, and I’m depressed over my cat. But I’ve come to discover that there was so much more to Tank being “just a cat”. Through him, I learned patience, and tolerance. He helped me to prepare for the important task of motherhood for my children. He was with me for 13 years, most of those very tumultuous ones. He traveled with me everywhere I moved, and was my longest male relationship to date. He did so with some of his own patience, and tolerance, and for that I will always be grateful to him. He was so much like me, in a lot of respects, and in the end I was his one true friend, and how can I not mourn the loss of that?