After nearly 15 years, we had to say goodbye to our beloved cat this past spring. You would think I would be used to goodbyes by now, but death is simply not a concept you ever get used to, as far as I am concerned.
I adopted Zoe in August 2001 when I was a single lady working for a local PBS affiliate. I brought her home and called her Libby for the first 24 hours because I though Sam & Libby would be so cute together. She hated that name. Never once answered to it! So I called my mom and asked for help (as I still often do). We tossed around the name Chloe (a name my dad actually wanted for me back in the day) and somehow came up with Zoe. It stuck.
When 9/11 occurred, Zoe followed the news ticker on the screen with her paw. She was a source of comfort for me during that time and I clung to her. We survived an apartment, a condo, several boyfriends, lots of parties, and more diets than I can recall. Then I met my husband, and she loved him from the start. She moved in with him first, actually. Eventually, I packed up all my stuff and moved in, as well. She had such a crush on him that she pretended she forgot about me, but I knew the truth. I was so smitten with him, too, that I allowed her behavior.
When I was pregnant with our first child, Allie, Zoe became very protective. She napped on my belly and followed me all around from room to room. With Allie and Zoe, we covered the whole alphabet. We were smug and naïve and happy. We had a complete family from A-Z.
Now they are both gone.
Allie died at 37 weeks and 1 day–before she ever had the chance to be born. She was loved from the start and is missed every day. As is common with stillbirth, there was no reason why. That’s hard for me.
Two years after we said goodbye to our first child, we welcomed our second. We adopted a daughter who filled our home with so much joy. For a while, we finally felt like we had it all.
But about nine months ago, Zoe’s kidneys started to fail. There were lots of trips to the vet, blood work, and overnight stays that brought us to the same conclusion. There was no way to heal her. After about a month of failed treatments, it was time to say goodbye.
I did not want to let her go. It was not fair. It was the end of an era that I was simply not prepared for at all. Zoe’s impending death brought back so many feelings of sadness and loss that I did not want to face.
My husband and I brought her back to the vet one last time. We gave her lots and lots of kisses. We told her we loved her. We held her tight. We asked her to look for Allie when she got to where she was going. We finally said goodbye.
Living without her has been a challenge. It’s strange to not have to feed her as soon as we wake up. The house seems empty without her napping in the sunlight or bathing in the shade. I miss her face, I miss her purring—and I miss her.
We tried to tell our other daughter that Zoe no longer lives here. We said she got “kitty cat sick” and had to go to heaven. We did not want to lie about death, since it is a concept we are going to have to tackle sooner than most. All she said over and over is that, “Zoe is a good girl.” When I tried to explain that she does not live here anymore, her face fell, and she did that nervous laugh (you know the one), and then pretended she didn’t hear me.
How am I not used to death and loss by now? Will I ever be?
Zoe’s spirit will love on in our memories and our hearts. She had a good life and I have to hope that was enough. I guess it has to be. I think it is.