I was ready for Fall. I was not ready for any of this.
A dip in the duvet next to me, no longer filled with a big, fluffy bundle of love.
An empty bowl, no longer brimming with a face full of fur and a perky pink nose.
A lap 20lbs lighter on movie night.
An empty suitcase when I am trying to pack for a road-trip.
A gap behind me on my desk chair.
I was not ready for a drinking-straw-free life.
I was not ready for the first 10 minutes of my day to be purr-free.
I was not ready to never see those huge, bright blue eyes.
I was not ready to never bury my face in that sumptuous, silky fur again.
I was not ready.
I was not ready for any of this.
An empty space just inside the front door when I get home.
An empty hand where a soft, purring head used to lie, every night & every morning.
Nothing but a sea of yellow blanket on the green leather chair by the window.
And I really was not ready for a humongous hole in my heart.
Daisy was not ready for any of this, either.
I was planning to get ready for this in about 10 years. Chiko was 6. And he had never been sick.
When we went to bed on Thursday night, everything was right with the world. My beautiful boy was there, as always - purring, lolling against my thigh as I read in bed. When I turned the lights out & lay down, he characteristically walked over top of me and plopped down on the other side, where the duvet meets the pillow, right next to me. I stretched my hand out. He nuzzled my palm & gently laid his head in it. His personal pillow. It’s what we do. It’s how we go to sleep.
When I woke up in the morning, he was there. He always is. It’s been that way for 6 years. He’s the last thing I see at night. He’s the first thing I see in the morning. He says hello as soon as he sees my eyes open. Except on Friday, he didn’t. I softly laid my hand on his silky fur. And I knew. He was gone.
I screamed his name & patted his side. No! No! No! Not Chiko! Not my Chiko! NO! NOOOOO!! But he was gone. I grabbed a big white towel & wrapped him up like a new-born infant. I sat on the side of the bed and rocked him, back & forth, sobbing. Loudly, uncontrollably. Not my Chiko. Please not my Chiko. Anything but Chiko. Anything.
We went downstairs & sat in his favorite green leather chair by the window. I held him close. He looked so beautiful, so peaceful – like he was slumbering in a blissful sleep, safe in his mama’s arms. Friends came. We stayed in the green leather chair by the window. Friends called the vet. They said to take as long as I needed. We stayed in the green leather chair by the window. His still-warm body & silky-soft fur wrapped tightly in my arms. Some friends had to leave. We stayed in the green leather chair by the window. We stayed there for hours. One friend remained.
And then, it was time. She drove to the vet while I craddled him gently. She did the paperwork while I tenderly held him & whispered his name. She took the towel as I hugged him close for the last time – burying my face in his deep, lush coat. And then, he was gone.
We went to Starbucks and drank Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. For hours. We talked. I cried.
We went to Krispy Kreme & ate Original Glazed Doughnuts. For hours. We talked. I cried.
We drove to Alki Beach & walked along the shore. For hours. We talked. I cried.
And then I went home. He wasn’t there, just inside the front door waiting for me. I cried. And cried.
The house is so empty. His presence was so huge. The bed is so cold. His body was so warm. My heart is so numb. His love was so unconditional.
I still can’t believe he’s gone.
I remember the day I found him at the pet store – so tiny, so white, so friendly, so full of life. How he purred like a freight train & wanted to be with me every moment that he could. How he slowly changed color until he was 2 years old & didn’t stop growing until he was 4. How his fur got longer & longer, silkier & silkier until he was just a huge, floppy ball of fluff. That’s how Ragdolls roll.
He loved drinking straws. He used to carry them all over the house. Every time I got back from a road-trip he would spend all night collecting all his straws up & carry them, one-by-one, upstairs. Then he’d drop them into a heap by the side of my bed. It was his welcome home gift. The first time he did it, I cried.
Chiko loved to play fetch. I’d ball up pieces of paper or candy wrappers and he’d bound after them, pick them up in his mouth, carry them over & drop them at my feet so I would throw them again.
He used to love lying on his back. I’d come out of the bathroom, or I’d turn around in the office, or I’d walk into the den, and there he would be. Legs akimbo, happy as a clam, more fluff than body parts.
Chiko thought tissue paper was awesome. He thought one of the best things in the world was lying on the floor under several sheets of it. I’ll never be able to look at tissue paper again without thinking about him.
Chiko loved to chase bees in the garden. He adored rolling in the grass & especially loved sitting on a blanket on the lawn in the sunshine with me during the warm summer months.
Life will never be the same. Fall will never be the same. The golden leaves remind me of his coat. The dappled sunlight reminds me of his sunny, smiling disposition & his warm, nurturing nature.
He was always there. For the past 6 years. Through the hurrahs & the heartaches. Through the triumphs & the tears. Through the laughter & the letdowns. Chiko was there. Sitting next to me, sleeping next to me – if I was in the house he was always nearby. Loving me, nurturing me. My constant companion. The hole he has left in my life is huge.
I can’t believe how painful losing Chiko is, but our bodies are amazing – the way they handle trauma. It’s the only time you can eat 10 Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in one day & lose weight. It’s like your body just knows that you need the comfort without the calories.
I know that this pain will pass, that I’ll smile & laugh out loud again. In time. Even so, life will never be the same.
I am so glad that the last thing he did was lie next to me and snuggle.
Chiko – my soul mate: 7/4/05 – 11/4/11
BEST. CAT. EVER.