Healthy. Happy. Life. Update. Taking a pause from yummy vegan recipes today. It has been three weeks since I wrote this post. Since Nelly lost her battle with cancer. And a few of you have asked how I am doing. So to continue this heart-filled conversation we have started about pet love and loss (thank you for sharing your own honest and emotional stories in the comments – I continue to read each and every one), I want to share my update..
First. Thank you. Thank you to everyone who continues to leave sweet and caring notes here on my blog about Nelly. I love that she will live forever through the pawprint she made here on HHL.
I have cherished the time I have taken to pause from work as well as my time now as I continue the work I love. Cooking, writing, photographing, laughing, creating, inspiring, being inspired. All things that make me happy. Work is so healing for me. So thank you for being on the other end of the work I love to do!
Dawn in Santa Monica. A new day. Pink sun-kissed clouds slowly clear for the rising sun:
My Three Weeks.
Nelly leaving. Nelly was a very special kitty to me. More special than any other pet I have ever had. So losing her was a moment in life I had been dreading ever since I first fell deeply in love with her sweet fuzzy paws and velveteen soft soul. I had no clue how I would react to losing her. Would I really be able to cope? The thought seemed unimaginable. I used to cry just thinking about losing her. Just the thought of it crushed me.
Ready or not. It was suddenly time to jump.
During Nelly’s cancer battle, the sky was spinning on a daily basis. And when it all abruptly and tragically ended, everything fell silent. The sky. The room. Every familiar scene became so calm and quiet. It all jerked still so suddenly.
I felt so dizzy in the sudden stillness of it all.
Our house felt bitterly quiet without Nelly frolicking around, scratching on her post, scampering across the hardwood floor, scraping around in her kitty litter, crunching on her greenies.
It is funny how loud silence can be sometimes.
I now faced the challenge of sorting out this whole mess in my head, while the swift world kept rushing by.
Thank goodness for friends, family & an uber supportive online community of animal lovers, aka YOU.
So three weeks is big for me. I am proud to feel my soul strengthen as I discover that I DO have the ability to cope with such a profound loss in my life. The loss of my soul kitty.
Baby cat. circa 2001..
Lessons Learned: Loss. Tears of Joy. And the Appreciation of Sadness.
It is so easy to be sad. To cry. To sit in that place of loss.
And for a while all you do is ‘be sad.’ Then eventually, through red eyes and endless tears, your brain whispers to your heart, “When will this sadness go away? When will this pain end?”
The sadness. It takes up so much space in those first few days and weeks that there is little room left to focus on anything else.
But then, for me, I realized two things:
1. That sadness? That sadness will never go away. I will always think about Nelly being gone and be sad. It is sad to lose a soul that brought me SO many years of happiness.
2. But the second thing I realized was that I do not mind that the sadness will never go away. It validates the bond I had with her. I cherish it actually. And the root of that sadness is simple, it is what I keep saying over and over and over, “I just miss her.”
So having accepted the fact that the sadness will always be somewhere inside me, I decided, like clicking on a light switch, that I had to force my brain to smile and let joy triumph.
To smile, laugh, look up and feel a warm glow of happy when Nelly crosses my mind. Which is quite often! I just have to remember the million billion things Nelly did to make me feel loved, to make me roar in laughter and to make me feel whole. And all those feelings I had when she was still here come swelling back in my heart, even if just for a moment. Those gifts from our bond will never fade.
I hinted this in my last Nelly post, but it is worth repeating: I will get through this by having gratitude towards the love Nelly gave me in my life, how lucky I was to have found her. And also by acknowledging the happiness, pride and thanks I feel from being able to have given her such an amazing, joy-filled kitty life.
So many kitties out there never feel the love and happiness that Nelly did. She was a blessed girl!
Feeling that gratitude brings tears to my eyes. Yet I am still smiling. Tears of joy. They come at such special times in life. At weddings, graduations, babies being born, long lost friends and family reuniting. Tears of joy, I think, are the secret to this whole mess of pain and loss. Tears of joy make everything make sense to me.
I am still crying. I am still sad. But I am smiling.
And my happy warm face is all I can feel.
And so like a switch, I turn on my memories-of-Nelly induced smile every chance I get.
Even if those bittersweet tears sometimes come too.
Animal Lover. So where now? Healing continues, forever I guess. But the other question is, when does another pet enter our lives? I am eager to save another animal and welcome it into our home. But we are not ready just yet. Everyone is different on that path I suppose. And I’m not sure if we will choose a dog, cat, bunny! Who knows. Just like with Nelly, I am sure the animal will choose us. But I have never had a dog, so I am actually anxious for some advice on that.. My friend Jaya actually had a beautiful sentiment about adopting a new animal. To not think of it as a “replacement” but more as a tribute. One life ends, another is saved. Beautiful. I think Nelly would love that. When we are ready.
If you are going through the loss of a pet: 1) Seek help if you need it. Via pet loss books, professional counselors or maybe even just an awesome friend, in person or online. And 2) Remember that beyond the initial horribleness of loss, there is much to be gained from the process of mourning and coming out on the other side, alive. Feeling yourself very slowly but surely, healing. Keep your eyes and heart open, I promise there is gold to be found on the other side.