Thursday, December 5, 2013

Loss and Life

Sunday marked the four year anniversary of my father-in-law's passing.

It still feels like just yesterday.

As in previous years, his loss is at the forefront of our minds as we enter the holiday season, a time usually of joy and family. We wish he were here so badly it makes the holidays difficult at times to enjoy. But this year is especially bittersweet because, while we are over the moon at our impending baby arrival, the thought that Charming's dad won't be here to see him become a father is weighing heavily.

This week and month are always difficult and we try to focus on the good times and use distraction and events to take our minds off of why December is not a welcome month in our household. We work really hard to keep Charming's mom occupied and away from thoughts that may send her into a spiral of despair. And while every year we never fail to have those moments where the loss hits us so hard and so quick we wonder how we have carried on these past four years, there is the return of joy too as we reminisce and laugh at memories and good times had before. It doesn't get easier to forget the pain but it gets easier to remember the good. Baby distraction has helped greatly and I can only hope our child will also aid in soothing those sad edges of our lives.

We attempt to keep things low-key, private and easy so that we can get through this month and it's family-fun filled joyousness unscathed. Every Christmas celebration seems to be tinged with whole family expectations and those are just hard to live up to when you have suffered such a serious loss at this time of year. My MIL has refused to decorate for Christmas these last years, not seeing the point of her doing it just for herself, which I understand. But we have always gotten together for Christmas and done small gift exchanges and she did agree this year to help us decorate our house. Which I see as a tiny step forward to accepting a bit of the joy of the holidays back into her life. Progress toward healing, no matter how small, is wonderful to see.

And that is why what happened yesterday is so especially devastating, so hard to understand and so inconvenient when it comes to the timing of such a tragic event.

My MIL's beloved kitty Cougar, who she got about six months after her husband died as a companion to help fill the void an empty house gave her, passed away suddenly. One minute he was on her lap, the next he had jumped down, run into the kitchen and yowled. She heard a thump and when she went to investigate, Cougar was on the floor, convulsing. One more small meow and he was gone, just like that. My heart breaks at that thought of her not only losing her beloved furry friend, but at also having to witness his passing in such a way and being helpless to stop it. Losing an pet is hard enough without having to see that happen. Our only solace is he went quick and didn't suffer.

We buried Cougar today, under the palm tree in her back yard that grew with no assistance or care and was in fact thought to be a deep seeded weed by Charming's dad when he was cleaning the yard so many years ago. When he failed to pull it out of the ground, my FIL left it there to see what would come of it and soon a glorious palm tree grew. It seemed fitting to put Cougar there, under life that refused to give up despite having no water to grow and someone trying to kill it. You see, Cougar was a rescue and we don't know his history except he was most likely abused due to his skittishness and temperament in the beginning and would have been put to death had my MIL not rescued him that day. We called him Sad Eyes because he always seemed to have a very concerned expression on his face that spoke of his tough life before he came into ours. He was an enigma in appearance, extremely round with tiny, tiny feet that did not seem big enough to keep him upright. Cougar was a tough sell, unsure of all of us in the beginning, wanting love but scared to give or receive it. But he grew to love my MIL and the trust that built between them was amazing. Over the years he became a different cat and the change was incredible, sitting on my MIL's lap, coming over to be pet, not trying to kill me when I needed to trim his nails. My MIL got two kitties that day almost four years ago but Cougar was my MIL's little buddy, her favorite and now she and Cougar's adopted brother Brutus seem lost without him. She can't imagine not seeing his cute little face when she wakes up and saying goodnight to him as she goes to sleep, with all their together time in between. The loss is huge, but I like to focus the fact he was loved unconditionally these last years and given a home that helped him to thrive and become the cat we knew he could be.

Plus, my FIL now has the best companion ever to keep him company while he waits for the rest of us to one day join him.

Rest in peace Little Buddy. We love you and miss you. Don't scratch Dad and keep that purrer going until we see you again.

1 Sprinkles:

pogonip said...

It truly doesn't seem like it could be 4 years. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that we all go eventually, so live the best life possible today because I don't know what tomorrow will bring.

I hope the beauty and joy of the holidays keeps healing your hearts. And that little one carries on the Charming tradition of family and love.