It has been three days since I lost my sweet DJ. After 18 years of having him around everyday when I woke up, having him waiting for me at the door when I would come home from work and sleeping next to me every night, it is very hard to believe and accept that he is really gone.
I adopted DJ and his sister Chrissy when I was 28 years old. This was a difficult time in my life, as I had just found out that I was not going to be able to have children. As you can imagine, I turned that grief into an overwhelming need to take care and nurture my two small furry family members. Chrissy wasn’t having any of that. She is definitely your “typical” cat. Feed me, rub me (but only on her terms) and basically leave me alone. DJ on the other hand was more than willing to oblige to my need to be “maternal”. He was always a very needy and demanding cat, which was good, because that was what I needed at the time. However, having anyone (human or pet) be that dependent on you, creates this extreme bond. Now, here I sit at age 46, left feeling empty and heartbroken by his absence.
DJ had a wonderful life. A challenging life… but still wonderful. He was beyond pampered and spoiled. At the age of 13 we discovered that DJ had a tumor which turned out to be cancer. After an aggressive surgery, after which they explained to us that they could not remove all of the cancer as it had “fingered” into other areas of his body, they removed what they could and gave us an estimated 6-12 months of remaining life. During this time, he was also diagnosed with being in stage 2 kidney failure. That was 5 years ago last November. I am truly blessed that I had all the additional years with him. Don’t get me wrong…sometimes things were challenging. We had lots of health issue over the last 5 years. There were times I was forced to give him IV drips at home to keep him hydrated, as well as dealing with constipation issues, and the kicker was when he went blind last year. We watched him struggle as he tried to get around the house by bumping into familiar objects to guide him. He got the hang of it pretty quickly and could make his way to food, water and up onto the couch while we were gone during the day and onto the bed at night to sleep with us (we did assist by putting stairs by the bed so he could get up easier). Did I mention that he was also partially nocturnal? I haven’t slept through the night in 18 years (no kidding). Even on vacation my body was just so accustomed to getting up that I always woke up. Even know.. three days after his passing, I am still getting up. Once at midnight and once at 2:30am. Those were his “times”. Sometimes he wanted me up so I could feed him. Sometimes he just wanted me to sit and hold him. We tried everything to break him of this at a young age, but nothing every worked. That was just DJ and we learned to accept him in all his glory (however annoying it may have been).
This past Sunday, things got bad. He was having really bad potty issues and hadn’t eaten in 24 hours. We could only get him to drink a tiny amount. Although he would still purr when I held him (that was just the way DJ was), I knew it was time. We got in touch with Dr. Anthony Smith from Rainbow Bridge. He was able to come to our house so that we could put DJ down in a calming and familiar environment. I never thought I would be strong enough to hold him through the process, but I was and to be honest, it would have taken an act of god to take him from my arms as I wanted to have every last precious moment with him that I could. Dr. Smith was AMAZING! He was calm and comforting and walked us through all the steps without rushing us at all. After DJ had passed, he stepped outside and gave us our time to say goodbye.
I can tell when I talk to some people by the look in their eyes that they think “it’s just a cat, why are you so sad”. I can honestly tell you that the lose I feel for DJ is greater then any pain I have felt before (and trust me.. I’ve been through some ridiculously painful moments in my life, which I will discuss in future blogs). This is real pain and real lose, just as if I would have lost anyone I loved dearly (human or none). Maybe it seems extreme, but this was my “child” and a small part of my heart really did die along with him. I feel like I’m not the same person anymore. As if he were a part of me and now without him, I am not complete. I still continue to cry randomly. Sometimes soft tears (like now while I’m typing this), and sometimes full weeping. I know the pain will lessen each day and I try so very hard to think of all the good times he brought to my life, but right now, I am just sad.
I believe his sister Chrissy is starting to feel the lose as well. She is NOT an affectionate cat at all, but while I lay in bed crying recently, she came to me and put her head on my leg and just watched me cry. I truly believe that they know and understand. I worry for her, as they were both completely indoor cats for 18 years. They have always had each other, especially during the day time while we were gone at work. Now she is alone. I’m just not sure how this is going to change her.
I am now wearing this ring around my neck in memory of my DJ. I miss him so much my heartaches.
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison