I’m trying to say goodbye to a fixture in my life for the past 13 years. My beloved kitty, my constant companion and most loyal friend, Bogey, has end-stage renal failure along with severe anemia. It is only a matter of time before he is gone. There are no viable treatment options. It’s a bitter pill I have been trying to swallow for nearly a week now, as I spend as much time with him as possible, knowing there will be a day very soon that he will no longer fill our home with his unconditional love and huge personality.
This is a first for me. As an adult, I have had other pets, but not for the duration that I have had Bogey, and no other pet has taken up residence in my heart like Bogey. We had a couple of parakeets when I was growing up, and I vaguely recall a fish or two in the house, but my dad claimed to be allergic to dogs and cats, so I had no experience with any furry friends until my late-20s.
Bogey has been mine since 2003 when he was rescued by my former brother-in-law who decided I needed to provide the forever home. My initial resistance evaporated when I saw my soon-to-be pal in Craig’s arms, happily eating a hot dog (the only somewhat-suitable-for-a-kitten food in a house filled with 20-something bachelors). That moment sealed the deal. The kitten came home with me, he was named Bogey, and he never left my side. He followed me everywhere and curled up on my lap every time he had the opportunity. I had no idea he would change my life, but he did. Oh, how he did.
Nearly three years after Bogey came into my life, our lives changed. I went through a divorce, moved from our home to a lovely rental, then shortly thereafter, to OUR home – three homes in six months, but he was not shaken, and adapted like a champ, every time. For the next six years Bogey and I lived in our little bungalow – just the two of us. And for the past almost-four years, we have lived with our new family – my husband and his two children.
Bogey changed me. Bogey helped me heal. He helped me grieve. He comforted me and prevented loneliness from swallowing me whole. He made me laugh and sometimes he frustrated me. He showed me my capacity for love when I swore I would never let myself feel love again.
And now that I know our time together is limited, I am relishing all of the moments with him that I am given. And he’s still helping me – even while his little body is failing him. My emotions have been running high, to say the least, and I have had what are probably irrational feelings, but this time I have spent with him since receiving the bleak news from our veterinarian has allowed me to really feel my feelings. I have been angry. I have been inconsolable. I have felt profound loss. I have felt fear of not having him to comfort me when I am sad. I have lamented the unfairness that I will no longer have him, the “package” that I brought to the marriage. I have grieved and mourned more than I can ever recall – even when I experienced loss ten years ago.
And as I recall that grief from what is now so long ago, I know I am experiencing this grief in a vastly different way. I have written before that I didn’t know I had feelings until I met the man who is now my husband. I KNOW there were so many thoughts and feelings that I did not share or express ten years ago because I did not know how. I know I kept so much inside even when I was so sure I was letting it all out. And because of that, I know it took me so much longer to move forward out of my grief and pain. I held onto it, so it held onto me, for far too long.
But this time it is different. I have let it out. I have spoken the words that I felt afraid to express. I have held nothing back, and it has freed me. I will miss Bogey terribly. He will never be replaced in my heart, and I will hold onto the gratitude of having him in my life through some of the most difficult and painful moments. But I know I will have grieved completely because of this time we have had together. This time that has gifted me with the opportunity to express everything inside.
Sobbing in the vet’s office. Breaking down whilst telling a friend about the prognosis. Feeling the loss more than I have from losing some humans in my life. Crying at some point every day for the last week. I am not ashamed of these feelings! I embrace them and know that they are a testament to how much I have loved another living being. There is no shame in our feelings. There is no shame in grief.
Thank you, Bogey, for helping me feel it all. Your mommy loves you and always will.