Last night (Sunday) was trash night. My SO and I dutifully went around the house emptying little wastebaskets and combining them in the main kitchen trash. During this, I took a deep breath and approached the litter box. I popped the top off. I looked inside. The litter had not been used. This told me Hamlet had been going downhill longer than I realized. And, while it might seem silly, I got up the courage to throw that litter away. Why not keep it? In case he did use it. In case, when we’re ready for a new pet, that cat smells Hamlet in there and won’t use it. And a little bit of it was helping me.
Saturday was one week without my Hamlet. I did well, really. A friend came and got me out of the house for a few hours. But then I came home and there was a card from the vet and I started bawling again. Especially when I saw the personal note from one of the gals, saying he was her favorite and she was going to miss him. They included the Rainbow Bridge poem and the water works were on high.
But now, I look back at the last picture I ever took of my boy:
To me, when I took this, he looked so happy and like he was feeling better. But now I look back and I can see that he was thinner. That he didn’t hold himself up like he used to. I remember now that he was lying down to drink water and would nibble only a bite or two of kibble.
And inside, I say to myself “maybe this was for the best. It hurts like hell, but he was sick. Now he’s not.” No, it doesn’t help the pain. But it helps me move forward. It helps me tell those funny stories instead of focusing on how he looked when I found him. I can tell people how he didn’t like my little nieces, but always obliged them when they wanted to pet him or throw him a toy or chase him around the house. And how, when he was tired of their attention, he’d find some place quiet to hide for a while. Other times, he’d look at me in desperation as if to say “why, mommy? why do you bring them over? are they leaving soon?”. My three-year-old niece loves to ask “can we go see Hamlet?”. I’m not sure she’ll understand when I say that he’s gone to the Rainbow Bridge. The older one will understand, I think.
So, one week on, I find myself pricing carpet and upholstery cleaning. This week I’ll donate his food to the animal shelter. And I’ll scrub out his litter box. And, when the time is right, we’ll get a kitten that I can love and dote on for another thirteen or fourteen years. It will never replace my Hamlet, but hopefully, it will help heal my aching heart.