Here’s the truth: I’m doing terribly.
Just when I think I’m taking steps towards healing, I take some more steps backwards. The sudden loss of my dear kitty friend has taken quite a toll on me, and as much as I don’t want to talk about it, I do.
I think I have to.
There was something about him from the start that made me just fall head over heels in love with his cute little kitten antics and the little black dot of fur on his chinny chin chin. Heck, that spot is why we starting nicknaming him Soul Patch…. and then the name just stuck.
He wandered into our lives last July-he was about a month old at the time. I was still FaceTiming with my friend Nicolette fairly late at night when I looked outside and saw 3 kittens poking around my porch. Naturally, my first thought was “HOW CUTE!” immediately followed by, “Oh no… not again.” We already had Gracie, who unexpectedly was pregnant when we rescued her… and she had her kittens Powder, Cricket, and Ra’s al Ghul. So we had 4 cats spayed and neutered with hopes that we could simply keep it at that. I know myself well… I saw the kittens and knew if we didn’t find them homes ASAP, I’d get attached.
For feral cats, I was insanely surprised at how quickly they adjusted to having us humans around. Soul Patch was the first to accept us. Correction. He didn’t just “accept” us…. He made it perfectly known that he wanted to be part of our family. I saw him at the door one day looking in, and when I opened it, he ran inside purring and rubbing against my leg. That was the day we bonded and I knew there was no way in heck I was letting him go. I was a little afraid to tell my husband when he got home from work that day because we had already discussed finding them homes and agreed to not get attached… but when I told him that one of the feral cats wasn’t so feral after all and I accidentally bonded with him, he laughed and said, “Ok, I have to tell you something, too. You know why he wanted inside and liked you petting him? It’s because I already got to him first.” 😉 We agreed that he had to stay. He was just too sweet of a cat to be anywhere but here.
Months passed of us being snuggle buddies- the love was mutual. He’d run inside every morning when I’d wake up to feed our kitties, not having a care in the world about eating the food until he was held and loved on for a few minutes. His purr was such a pretty whistling sound, almost like a bird chirping. He grew very fond of our other cat Cricket, and he would mimic all the ways Cricket would get our attention- like climbing our legs to reach us if we stopped petting him (I could have done without that one!), or simply stepping on top of our feet when we’d have to walk away… again, could have done without that one, too. I nearly broke my leg a hundred times by them tripping me up together. 😉 But the fact of the matter was, he loved me. I knew that without a doubt.
Soul Patch had a bad eye. It wasn’t always bad, but a few months after he came into our lives I noticed the left eye was looking a little red. I thought maybe he scratched it, but then the next day we looked again, and it was worse. By the time we got to the vet appointment, his eye was in such awful shape that we weren’t sure it could be saved. Our vet was happy we were able to come in when we did because much longer and our fears of him losing that eye would have been right. In the weeks after that appointment, we were able to stop the infection with some prescription drops the doc gave us, but sadly, his eye was permanently damaged. We’re not even sure he could see out of it anymore. But none of that mattered to Soul Patch. He was still the same jolly cat he always was.
The things he would do just for our attention always had me in belly laughter. There was a time he couldn’t see me in our Great Room, so he climbed the roof (I mean, to the very top!) and looked down on us through the skylight! He got down safely & came inside, but we were just laughing at how ridiculous he could be. Always wanting to see where we were. I even caught him spying on me one time in the bathroom… again, because he got on the roof and was looking through the skylight! He couldn’t have waited two minutes?! So silly!
If I could keep him inside, I would have… but the thing with our cats is, they really enjoy being outside. When we try to keep them in, they will find a way out when they grow tired of being indoors. I’ve heard time and time again how cats shouldn’t be outside for many reasons, and I totally understand the reasoning behind it. But the thing is, my cats love the outdoors in the same way I do, and they are always very good about staying in the boundaries of our yard, which is blocked by trees in the front.
That is, until last Friday.
My morning was the typical morning- Nadia had school, so I woke up, fed the cats, and took her to school. It was garbage day, so I took the can to the end of the driveway and came back inside to read for a while before having to pick her up again. When the time came to pick her up, I drove down our long driveway, and suddenly had the urge to check my mailbox. I never check it before I pick her up, because we have a routine and we check it when we come home. It’s just our thing. But something stopped me, and I just walked over to check it. Inside was one thing- my baptism certificate sent to me from my church since I was just baptized a few weeks back. I felt the Lord speaking over me saying “Please remember this.” I didn’t know what I was about to see, but He did.
I made the turn out of my driveway, and two seconds later I nearly drove my car off the road when I saw the body of a black and white cat in the grass. I slammed on the brakes, threw my door open and ran over to see if my biggest fear was actually my reality.
Lying there lifeless was my sweet friend.
The image of his body is something I’m literally begging God to erase from my mind because seeing him in the condition I saw him in has left my husband and I traumatized and in the deepest grief.
I screamed at the top of my lungs and was left pounding on my car shouting “NO!” over and over. My darling buddy tragically lost his life prior to reaching his first birthday, and I couldn’t be more hurt by it.
In just that year, I have so many fond memories of him. I’d give so much to have him back- I can’t even think of a reason why he would go to the road other than the fact that he saw me take the trash to the end of the driveway, and maybe he was simply wanting to come greet me. My husband told me I can’t think like that because then I’ll start blaming myself for something I didn’t have control over. But I can’t help but have regrets about letting him outside in the first place. How a car could have been going that fast to do what they did to him is beyond me, but I can say with near certainty that he didn’t have even a second of suffering. It hurts me to keep thinking about how he was hit, so Dana and I had to talk about it together to really get it out of our systems. We’re in such distress over his death that few things are bringing us any comfort- but one of them is that we believe he didn’t see the car because his blind eye was facing it & that he didn’t suffer before he was welcomed into paradise.
Which brings me to my final thoughts- there’s always a lot of controversy about pets and their eternal destination. I understand why. The Bible is pretty vague about it. But God’s not vague about His character. When you enter into a personal relationship with Him, there are so many parts of His nature and personality that come out that it’s hard to explain just how gracious and good and wonderful He is. His love is so deep that it’s incomprehensible.
My sweet cats and I have a relationship that is above and beyond what I ever expected prior to pet ownership- when I’m in distress, they literally climb on my lap, put one paw on each shoulder of mine, and then lay their heads on my chest. They all do that. They HUG me. Hug. Cats. Hugging me. And I know they know what they’re doing. They all give me affectionate kisses on the top of my hand or feet, and like Soul Patch, they go to great lengths to greet me- not because they want something, but because they just want to show they care. So when the Bible is very clear about there being animals in heaven, and I know that because I put my life in the hands of Jesus Christ- God Almighty revealed in the flesh- and I have a generous reward awaiting me in the next life… how could I not think that he’d be so loving as to surprise me with my furry family members, too?! It would go completely against everything I know about Him to say otherwise. Heck, there are so many times I ask for stupid crap that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, and He gives it to me anyways. Do I think He enjoys seeing me cry every night and repeating over and over “But he was my friend! Soul Patch was my friend!”?! Of course not! In fact, I think seeing us in mourning hurts Him deeply because we have to wait to see the grand surprise of our loved ones in a fully healed state awaiting us in paradise. So do I believe I’ll get to see Soul Patch again, running free with TWO good eyes and plenty of hugs left for me? Without a doubt.
It’s just going to hurt until then. (And his dearest pal, Cricket is feeling his absence, too, because for the past few days he’s been wanting to lay in the area on the porch that was once Soul Patch’s spot.)
To read more about my feelings towards pets in heaven, here are some pages from a book I was given to help me understand this more. (And p.s.- the book was completely randomly in a package with an online order that had NOTHING to do with pets, pet ownership, death, etc. & was sent to us months back. We opened it and were like, “What the heck is this?!?!” and now we get it.)
Thank you to those friends of mine that aren’t expecting me to “move on” from this so quickly. Thank you to those that have reached out & that understand fully that I don’t want to talk about anything else right now, and thank you to those that sympathize with my need for space during these times of mourning. Thank you to everyone patient enough to allow me to put my Journal Shoppe on holiday mode for a few days because I wasn’t able to actually get into my car and pass the spot where I saw my buddy until I had to go out today to take Nadia to school. Thank you for understanding I haven’t even been able to walk down to the mailbox because the thought of seeing the spot where his body was sends me into an anxiety attack… I know there are plenty that don’t understand, and to be quite honest, I’m thankful that you’ve never had to go through this. He wasn’t “just a cat” to us- His life meant so much more. He was a pure gift. A source of comfort to me when I needed it. A friend to keep me company during my lonely nights. Soul Patch was a member of our family, and we miss him dearly.
The reality has set in that this is just the first we’ll be dealing with the loss of one of our furry family members, and because Soul Patch was the first to go, the place where he lay is the start of our cemetery. And it only seems appropriate to me to plant flowers all over the previously neglected space and tend to it with great care. A flower patch to mark the place where we will mourn and celebrate the lives of the sweet souls that have come into our family and forever marked our hearts and our home.
A Soul Patch, if you will.
Until we meet again, sweet babe.