Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pearl

This morning we found the heart of my heart, our cat Pearl, under the bed, gasping for air and covered in urine.

There are truly no words in the English language (or all of the other languages combined) that could explain what this cat means to me. I have never had a friend so true, a love so consistent, or company as comforting. She loves me without expecting anything in return, the mere sight of me enough to send her into a passionate fit of purring and rubbing. She puts my children to bed every night, curling up on their feet to listen as I read them Harry Potter and then staying after I leave until they are sound asleep. She is my personal alarm clock, whether I like it or not, as she wakes me early each morning by rubbing her nose on my face and purring in my ear, using her paws to unearth me from the covers if I try to hide.  She snuggles the three of us before school starts, walking from chest to chest and rubbing her faces on ours. She is the very essence of love.

She is warm and soft and solid, light and sweet. To call her a pet would be gravely understating her place in my life--she is more than my best friend. To even call her my baby may be in error--I love her that intensely but appreciate her in a different way, a way that marvels at all she will give without expecting in return. She is my equal or maybe even my superior in this family, a place earned through her selflessness.

At the sight of her in distress, Big Kid gasped and burst into tears. I assured him everything was okay although in my heart I knew it wasn't. He believed me, though, and I envied that hope and trust. I couldn't wait 10 more minutes for the bus and asked them to wait alone, the fear I felt in doing so completely overshadowed by my fear for the small, gasping bundle in my arms.

At the vet they took her from me and promised to call. I was supposed to work at the yoga studio from 11-2 so I called the vet back and asked, if they were me, would they come to visit her before work? Praying for them to tell me that was unnecessary, that I could pick her up at 2, that she was looking great.

They said yes, if they were me, they would.

The uncomfortable and sympathetic front desk girl led me back to her and explained that I couldn't hold her because she had to stay in the oxygen tank.

There was my heart, in a tiny glass box, eyes unfocused, mouth agape. Unsure if she could hear me, I called to her and she didn't react. My heart plummeted. I called again, more frantic this time, and she turned her head, saw me and took a few shaky steps to press her face against the front of the box. I pressed my face back into hers, both of us divided by the cool glass, so close but never further away than in that instant. She laid down and looked at me, still gasping for each breath and I sunk to my knees and sobbed, keeping my face as close to her as possible, running my hands along the glass where she lay, murmuring about how I loved her and how she was my best friend and what a great life we've had and how it couldn't end like this, as random people in scrubs gingerly stepped around us. Telling her to not be scared, that she's a good girl, that all would be okay, we would be okay, that I need her--I really do need her. We need her.

I sat there, forehead to glass, fingers curled around the bottom lip of the tank, "Hey There Delilah" (a former favorite I never want to hear again) playing softly in the background, begging my closest friend to please stay here on earth until the vet finally brought me a tissue, helped me to my feet and led me into a small surgical suite (as his other less heartbroken customers waited) and explained her condition, went over some of the more mysterious points and offered a small beam of hope if we wait for the end of the day. He cushioned this by reminding me of her age, and that we don't want her to be in pain.

I didn't even make it to the car before slumping against a bank of mailboxes and crying my heart out.

And as I was sitting here typing out all of the above, trying to hold onto a hope I never had and every beat of my heart reminding me of her ragged breaths, the vet called and told me she was gone. After a flurry of phone calls, I sank to my knees and sobbed until I dry heaved and then lay there in abject misery trying to decide how to tell the kids; how to tell Big Kid that his best friend, one of his only friends, is gone forever.

Due to bad genetics, bad luck, and careless friends, I have dealt with death far more than the average person my age and yet nothing has hurt like this. Logically I know that she was a cat, but in my heart I feel like that makes our relationship even more amazing--that this strange little creature from an entirely different species and I loved each other like every breath depended on it for the last 14 years and now that is no more. She was the last one left to have lived in all of our houses, nuzzled all of our babies, sat on all of our couches, known our past pets, and been nearby for a lifetime full of laughter, crying, fighting, surviving and now she is gone forever.

I'm beyond crying now, my lungs too tired to draw in breaths deep enough for a sob, but my eyes just leak continuously--fat, bold tears racing each other to land on my chest, my neck and the front of my soggy shirt. I still smell a bit of her sickness, and although I know it's disgusting and irrational, I am reluctant to wash it away.

The house already feels 100x emptier, as does the place in my chest where my heart should be.




 (She sat on our new couch first, as she liked to sit on all new things first. I'm so glad she got to.)




How will I do life without her.

41 comments:

Cara Howard said...

Oh my goodness sweet friend. This tears me up inside. I can't even find the words to offer to you but I want you to know that I'm so sorry this happened, and that I feel for you, and that I'll be praying for you and your family. No loss is too small - this one being bigger to you than any family member - don't be ashamed of that. Very few people get to receive love AND wish to return it in the ways you got to with your sweet girl. So sorry. xo

Laura said...

Oh Ashley, I'm so sorry. Similar to Cara, I don't know what to say, but know that your family is in my thoughts. It's amazing what a big impact such a small animal can have.

Caitlin said...

Oh Ashley, I'm so, so sorry for your loss. When animals come into our lives and our homes they become so much more than just a pet and losing them can be just as hard as losing any other family member. I'm thinking of your family. <3

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

Sasha said...

Ashley, I am so sorry for your loss. Know that I am thinking of you and your family and hope for comfort for you during this time.

Ashley Frankly said...

Thank you for your kind words, everyone. I know it's one of those things where there really isn't anything anyone can say but I appreciate feeling less alone. I'm really dreading breaking the news to the kids and it's nice to be able to "talk" instead of dwell on that.

Anna C. Winter said...

I'm so sorry Ashley. I'm holding my pets close today.

Mandi said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. You and your sweet family are in my prayers.

Design Revisted said...

I'm so, so, sorry. I have beyond an irrational fear of something happening to my pup because he is my baby. In a way that is almost embarrassing. :)

Jill Ann said...

I am so sorry. We have a cat that helps put the kids to bed and stays with them also. Prayers to you as you tell you children. What a special kitty.

Liz B said...

I got all teary reading this at my desk. I hate the feeling of grief, it hurts so bad. Time will ease the pain, but it will always sting. My deepest condolences.

binajabber said...

I can't say how sorry I am for your loss, Ashley. Thinking of you and your family.

shelly said...

I'm so, so sorry Ashley. I'm sure it's all the more difficult with how sudden it was.

Please take care and I wish all of you peace as you work through this together.

Liz said...


I am so, so sorry for your loss. Having read your blog for so long, your love for Pearl was always so obvious and sweet.
Sending big hugs your way.

Erica said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. May your many happy times together bring you comfort during this difficult time. You and your family are in my thoughts. <3

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. My heart is breaking for you because I know what that loss feels like.
:(

C said...

Oh honey. I am so very sorry. I went through a similar thing in June where we had to help our sweet kitty Snuggles pass on. She was 16 and declining rapidly. Your post brought me right back to that day and I cried with you. Like your Pearl my Snuggles was with us through every house, with us longer and outliving other animals. There is a special place in kitty heaven for sweet kitties like our Pearl and Snuggles.

Just remember, you gave Pearl the BEST life ever and she knew so much love from all of you. Do not feel silly when you grieve for her. She was closer to you probably than some humans. Our animals are our family and it is so hard to let them go. I hope you can find peace in your memories of her in the next few weeks. It will be so hard I know, but remember how much she enriched your life in the seemingly short time you have had with her.

Keeping you all in my thoughts!

Nancy said...

Ouch. Dang pain and heartache. I'm so sorry you guys will be forced to figure out living in a new way.

Elise said...

Saying goodbye to our animals, our family is the worst. I am so sorry for your loss.

Kerrie said...

I'm so so sorry for your loss. I'm crying at work and remembering my cat, who passed away five years ago. Your beautiful tribute to Pearl has made me decide we need another cat though, they bring so much that is good.

Renee said...

I have never cried so hard reading your blog! And you've had some tear jerkers over the years. I'm so, so sorry. I'm jealous of that relationship you had with Pearl. That was special. Not every pet owner gets to experience that kind of relationship with their pet. You were both blessed to have each other.

Melanie said...

I am bawling right along with you. Our animals offer something in our lives that is unlike anything a person can give. They know us in a way more close to our personal, private knowledge of ourselves than any family or friend ever could - and they love us anyway. Blessings to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

I am so, so sorry for your loss Ashley. Praying for peace for you and your family.

Rachel said...

Sending hugs and love to your family. It is so, so hard to lose a pet, even and especially when you know they have had a fantastic life.

Lisa said...

Oh, I'm so sorry and sad for you. So sudden, but how wonderful that she didn't have the indignity of declining and suffering for weeks on end. You had the best of her right to the end, and she enjoyed life right to the end. Hugs!

The Ludwigs said...

I'm so sorry for your loss; words are inadequate. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Mariya said...

I'm so sorry.

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

Oh I am just laying here sobbing reading this! I know that love and also know that pain. I am so so so sorry!!

KK

nobody said...

I am so sorry for your loss, may you find peace while cheeishing rhe memory of Pearl.

MTGrace said...

I am so, so, so very sorry! Our fur babies are so very special, and I hate losing them like nothing I can describe! Sending you so much love.

AlexisMorgan said...

Ashley, I was crying so hard last night that I couldn't leave you a message. I am so very sorry about your loss. I understand and my heart breaks for you. My black cat, "Kitten," was my first baby and she will be in my heart forever. I will pray for you and your family because this is heartbreaking for y'all. Sending love.

A.D. said...

Oh Ashley, I'm so sorry. My heart is breaking for you all. I had a cat similar to Pearl that I lost about 3 years ago, and it still hurts when I think about her. When it happened, I tried to think about what a good life I gave her, but really, it just sucked. So while it will always be sad when you think about her, it does get a little less "sucky" each day (if that makes sense). Sending you an awkward, non-creepy cyber hug.

Jamie said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. I just read this at work and had to run into the bathroom and cry my eyes out. Sending my love to your family.

Jennifer said...

So sorry :-(

Cindy said...

Oh my goodness. I don't even know what to type. I'm so sorry.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss...I lost a family cat a few years ago, and still get teary when I think about her...hugs

Jessica said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I don't have the words.

Meriam Salama said...

:( so sorry to hear your sad news ashley. thoughts and prayer xoxo

The Lovely One said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my best friend in October and I felt the same agony that you described so eloquently. I thought a new cat would ease the pain, and it did some, but it is absolutely not the same. I miss her so much, and I will be thinking of her tonight, as I am sure you are thinking of your heart.

Ashley Frankly said...

Lovely One, I am feeling so torn about that. When Heidi died, we ran out and got Murphy and I felt like I was still missing her just as badly but now had a stupid ass puppy to take care of and he didn't get the love he deserved. I immediately said I would never do that again and "know" that it won't help but I just so badly want to hold something soft and purring. I keep secretly looking at adoption websites and feel torn between wanting every single cat and feeling indifferent about all of them and sometimes consider getting another black cat, naming it Pearl, and pretending it never happened (I wish that was possible.)

NOVA said...

You said it so right. It IS even more amazing that we can sometimes create a true loving bond with an entirely different species. I know the end was awful for you and I'm so sorry. She had a great life with you, that's the best you can do. You clearly have a good heart to care so much.