Oof. This is going to be a hard one to write. Even as I just sit thinking about the general last year of my life tears start to come to my eyes.
Last year was hard.
It was a year full of upheaval. Full of loss and grief. Change and fighting stagnation. Sadness and joy.
This time last year I put down my cat, Patches. I have never made a harder decision in my life. Moving to Paris was easier. Buying a car was easier. Nothing has torn at the fabric of my soul so much as that decision. I frequently still mull over whether I made the right choice. And I keep reminding myself that I did.
Patches was in her 17th year. She had been my cat friend since I was 12. Her illness came on fast. It was inconclusive and not diagnosed. She had fits where she could barely breathe at the end. But she was still my grumpy lady, knocking over water bowls, watching TV with me, and purring. She certainly didn't make the decision easy.
I play those images, Patches sitting on the couch, those last moments before the vet put her down, over in my head often. Sometimes I bring them up purposefully, most of the time accidentally. Does that seem tortuous? It is. (If I wasn't crying earlier, I certainly am now.) But it is also a reminder that I don't take anything lightly. This life can be over so quickly, and we better make the most of it while we can.
Patches' passing was the catalyst I needed for change. I was stuck. I had moved to New York for a job I thought I would love for a long time. My interests had evolved quickly in that year, though, and I felt a deeper yearning to move into the healing space, to give my time and knowledge to helping others find balance in their bodies.
For a few months after Patches passed, my thyroid function tanked deep. It was all I could do to get out of bed and go to work. I have never felt so physically exhausted as I did then.
About a month later, I adopted a 5-month old kitten, and she quickly broke up the stagnant grief that was forming. Cricket was (and still is) a ping-pong ball of energy. After coming home to find my room in pieces one day, I questioned if this kitten was the best move. I had an appointment with my facialist, Melanie Herring, and talked about it before our session. As I laid on the table, Melanie doing her magic, she said could feel that this kitten was a good thing for me. I needed something, and someone, to break things apart. To break the grief. And that was Cricket.
While this past year has also included the passing of a beloved aunt, quitting my job, moving to a new city, struggling to find a new job, balancing two jobs, and getting accepted into herb school, that grief over my baby cat Patchy has still been there. Still is there. Sometimes I call Cricket Patches. Sometimes I confuse their images in my brain when I think of Cricket. I have to remind myself that it's Cricket, not Patches, who waits for me at home.
Has my grief transformed? Wholeheartedly, yes. It has softened. It is not gone. Nor do I really wish for it to be. If I'm honest, I want to hold on to that image forever--the image of my last moments with Patches--to remember what I have lost, the consequences of each decision I make, and the joy that comes with loving.
I'm not sure what my future grief may look like. I will love and lose again. That is the nature of life. But I will hold on to each precious moment and tell my loved ones how much I care for them while I can. Even if that's just giving little Cricket an extra treat tonight.
If you are grieving, reach out. Find someone to talk to. We cannot do this on our own. I am infinitely grateful to the friends and family who have been there for me this year.