You may already know, losing a family member or a close friend is a traumatic event.
It’s assumed if you lose a family member or a close friend that you will be sad and feeling blue for quite some time, if you have a pulse and a body temperature of 98.6 degrees anyways.
Folks check on you, they send you cards, and likely even attend your relative or friend’s funeral in support of your loss.
There are ceremonies for the loss of this individual.
This is customary behavior.
It’s just what you do.
You support your friends and family when they’re in a time of emotional need.
What they don’t discuss however is how hard it hits you to lose a furry friend.
Particularly because there aren’t any ceremonies to pay homage to this dear member of the family.
My first four-legged love was a calico cat, with fur as white as snow, and eyes the color of Jade.
She picked me out you know.
It was circa 2002.
I was in Maryland, alone, while my parents were in Hawaii for my Dad’s third tour there.
I knew they would move again after that tour and I just didn’t have it in me to move again.
That’s what I told myself anyways.
So I wanted a companion.
I searched the local newspaper and found a farmer had a cat that had a litter and he was giving them away to good homes.
I was a good home.
I drove to that farm in Virginia one summer day with my bestie and took a peek at that cat’s litter.
There were so many beautiful kittens.
Which one should I have?
Then I saw the most beautiful kitten I had ever seen in the world.
Jade walked up to me and smelled my hand and I knew she was the one.
She rode freely in my hatchback on that ride back.
I used to be afraid of cats.
I have no clue.
I wasn’t allowed to have pets in my studio apartment so I trained her to only come out when I came to the bed and lifted the bed skirt.
We don’t use bed skirts anymore.
There are too many other cool forms of beds to use a bed skirt.
Jade slept on my chest every night as a kitten.
She came trotting when I called her name… Jaaadddeee.
She was even born on the same day as me.
We were meant to be.
She came to my side if I was sad and rubbed her soft furry head against me and batted at me with her paws.
I heard stories of people losing their pets and the thought horrified me.
Whatever would I do without Jade around?
Jade moved with me across statelines three times.
She moved from different apartments with me 11 times!
One day, to my horror, my baby sister felt a small lump just above her right hind leg.
Immediately, I took her to the veterinarian.
She needed surgery, so surgery she had.
The veterinarian was certain he got all of it.
It being a fibrosarcoma.
Also known as feline/canine cancer.
Typically caused from an ingredient previously added to the rabies vaccine.
Why did she need a rabies vaccine after all?!
She was an indoor cat.
This started circa 2008.
I thought, “whewh thank God he got all of it.”
Little did I know that was just the beginning.
That first surgery was to remove a pea-sized lump.
A year and a half later she’d need surgery again to remove another pea-sized lump.
Then, a year later another surgery.
This time entailed an incision from her right hind leg to the top of her back.
Then, just under a year later, another surgery of the same magnitude.
Each time they thought they got it all.
The fourth time the doctor said if it returned they recommended amputation.
In December of 2013 I felt a lump again.
My heart sank.
I could not amputate her leg.
It wasn’t guaranteed to work.
I felt amputating would be selfish on my part and if it didn’t work she’d spend the last days of her life in miserable agony.
I thought, maybe it won’t grow to a detrimental point.
She was 11 then.
I desperately wanted for her to meet my first child.
That never did happen.
The 22nd of March 2014 Jade took her last breath.
This is a day I couldn’t forget even if I wanted to for it is another loved one’s birthday.
I remember getting up that Saturday morning feeling empty.
I didn’t want morning to come, but it did.
I sat in the passenger side with her wrapped up in a blanket and John Legend came on the radio.
“I’m so dizzy”
“don’t know what hit me,”
“but I’ll be alright.”
“My head is underwater,”
“but I’m breathing fine.”
“Cause all of me,”
“loves all of you.”
And while that entire song does not pertain to a furry friend, when the song came on it came on the right part of the chorus and thus this song will forever remind me of Jade.
This blog helped me tremendously to realize someone else out there felt exactly how I was feeling – The Death of a Pet Can Hurt As Much as the Loss of a Relative.
It still makes me sad to think of her and I still cry from time to time when I think of her as I am doing now.
Later that year or earlier this year rather, my husband lost his first four-legged love as well.
What they don’t talk about is how hard the loss of a pet will hit you.
It’s like it’s just swept under the rug.
Not worthy of acknowledged grieving.
You see your pet every single day.
While it’s a given the loss of a loved one will be difficult, society expects it and understands it, but for those that have never had or loved a four-legged friend they don’t understand how tough that loss will be.
Every day Jade trotted down the stairs as I called her name.
Looking at me with her beautiful Jade eyes.
Being a mother to my other cat whom I got to keep her company while I was away at work.
Yet, no longer would she trot down the stairs to the tune of her name…
And since the loss of a pet isn’t something everybody understands, it’s even harder to grieve the loss of a pet because there aren’t many people to talk to about it.
You feel almost silly grieving the loss of a pet.
The night before I had to put her down, my sisters, nephew, and brother-in-law came by the house to say their goodbyes.
Jade was a princess indeed.
A humble one.
I cried secretly at work for days.
While no one was looking.
Quickly patting my eyes dry.
I was thankful for the people that were brought across my path that understood and were sympathetic to my loss.
I am no stranger to death.
I lost a younger sister when I was in fourth grade.
There were four of us and I’m the oldest.
I still think what it would be like if she was still there.
In the picture, amongst the other three of us.
She was the third born.
I lost my only aunt when I was in first grade and my only uncle in 2010.
I still think about them frequently and what my relationship with the three of them would be like now.
Yet it is expected to grieve family.
Society understands this.
Yet no one can prepare you for the loss of a pet because somehow or another most of society doesn’t understand grieving over what they see as merely an animal.
What many don’t understand is most people spend more time with this animal than they do anybody that doesn’t live in their household or hasn’t lived in the same household, therefore you are bound to heavily grieve the loss of this four-legged friend.
My hope is that anyone who reads this that has a four-legged friend they’ve lost doesn’t feel ashamed to cry out for their four-legged friend because they’re such a large part of our lives.
One day I will tell my children about princess Jade.
The most beautiful cat there ever was.
Of course I will tell them about their aunt, and my aunt and uncle, but that seems to go without saying.
Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. -Anatole France
Just hanging out while I did homework.
Jade April 26, 2002- March 22, 2014.