365 Days

365 Days.

It’s been 365 days since I lost him.

It’s been 365 days since I lost my best friend.

It’s been 365 days since I had to make the hardest decision in my life: the decision to put him to sleep.

It’s been 365 days since I put to sleep the cat who laid with me every night since the day I adopted him.

It’s been 365 days, yet I still cried when I found his old collar and tag in the drawer of my desk last week.

When I adopted Percy, then Cheech (his brother was Chong), I was questioned on whether or not I would still want to adopt him because he had a heart condition. He had a grade 5/6 heart murmur. I was told he could live a full life, or he could last a year. Considering the fact that I too had cardiac issues, I was a little offended at the notion that someone wouldn’t want him solely because of his heart issue. Of course, I took him home, and he was the most loving, social, and intuitive cat.

Over the years, he laid with me during some of the roughest times I’ve faced – physically and mentally. He was my baby. He was my rock. It’s been 365 days.

On December 13th, I took Percy to the vet. It was his first time going to the vet since we relocated to New York. I noticed he had some increased effort when breathing and seemed to be breathing faster than normal. The vet was amazing. She was incredibly caring, responsive, and gave me the most information she could. They did a chest x-ray. She brought me in and showed it to me – it showed his entire abdomen had built up fluid. She let me know he would need a chest tap and to spend the day with them. I left him there and she called me back shortly after I left to let me know I needed to pick him up and immediately take him to the animal hospital. She did the chest tap, but it wasn’t the fluid she was expecting – the fluid was filled with blood. She did another tap, still… all blood. We took him to the animal hospital in Manhattan. We could have kept him alive, but the fluid could build up within a matter of hours, or a matter of months or years, and there was no way to tell which it would be, and medication wouldn’t necessarily help him. I could have taken him home, but come home from work the next day to him passed away. It didn’t seem like it would be fair to do that – to prolong his life for my own benefit, to hang onto him for one day… while he suffered.

On December 30th, we went to the shelter and rescued Lincoln. He’s brought a brightness into our home when it felt so empty after our loss.

It’s been 365 days, but I had a remarkable 2118 days on this earth with him, and each of those days makes up for each day without him. I went into his adoption ready to rescue a cat who may or may not make it through a few months, and I got 2118 days with him. For that, I am thankful.

These last 365 days have been filled with so much. So many laughs, so many tears. In these last 365 days, we’ve gained some, and lost way too much. We lost Percy. We rescued Lincoln. We lost Caleb. We decided to make the leap and move to DC in January 2019. I will face the next 365 days with my head up, my heart full, and ready to face the adventure each of those days brings. Thank you, Percy, for showing so much affection to everyone you encountered. Thank you, Caleb, for showing us all the best way to live and reminding us every day how important it is to live with light, love, happiness, passion, perseverance, strength, and hope.

365 days. 

Lost After Loss

In early 2012, I adopted a tiny fuzzball Siamese kitten. He was 6 weeks old and absolutely perfect. He was with his brother. Their names were Cheech & Chong. After spending nearly a week with “Cheech,” I renamed him Percy. The animal rescue facility asked me if I was sure I wanted to adopt him, as he had a heart condition. Slightly offended, I said I was sure, as I too have heart issues. He was about 18 months when the vet told me he may have a full life, or he may only last another 6 months – it was uncertain. He had a grade IV-V heart murmur. I thought that day was rough.

December 13th 2017: I noticed he seemed to be breathing heavier than normal. I took him into the vet and they did a chest x-ray that revealed that his entire abdomen was filled with fluid. He was in severe heart failure. She did a chest tap and the fluid that was drawn out was full of blood, not clear like it was supposed to be. That’s the thing about cats, they are very good at hiding their pain. She called ahead to the animal hospital and I rushed him there, where I ended up having to put him to sleep. It was the hardest thing I had ever faced, and I spoke at my grandfather’s funeral at the age of 10.

If there was ever a cat to be qualified as an emotional support animal, Percy was it – from day one. He was there for me through so much. I know that may be hard to understand because he couldn’t speak (although, being a Siamese, he felt differently), but he could definitely console. During the time that I had Percy, I dealt with a multitude of medical issues from neurological to GI to cardiac to psychiatric. He was always there. Living alone wasn’t lonely with him.

I suffer from major depression, anxiety, and panic disorder – I was in remission from my depression, until I lost him. Losing him was like losing a large part of myself. I no longer was comfortable in the silence because I no longer had him by my side. Despite living with Michael, our home felt empty. This loss hit me like a load of bricks. I had no motivation. When I wasn’t at work, I was curled up on the couch or in bed. When people tried to talk to me about it, or I thought about him, my eyes filled with tears.

December 30th: I wasn’t ready to move on from Percy, but I was ready to rescue another kitten. We went to the shelter and met Lincoln (aka Buzz Lightyear, at the shelter). He was a timid little black-and-white kitten who was curled up in his dome bed with his brother (Woody). He was scared, but when I pulled him out, he curled up in my arms and purred. He was the right kitten. He wasn’t taking Percy’s place, but burrowing his way into a new space in my heart. We’ve had Lincoln a little over a month now. I still think about Percy often. Lincoln is starting to fill up the crater left by the loss of Percy.

It’s amazing what pets do for us.