I used to be sceptic of people’s love for animals. I always understood that we should care for all living species, obviously. But I just couldn’t relate to some people’s extreme love for their pets. Even though I had pets as a kid, I don’t remember being that attached to them.
Harry was the first pet that I adopted as an adult. And even though I loved him, I didn’t stop to consider how much…
Until he passed away three days ago.
And I’m devastated. My heart is broken. I feel empty. And I’m having a hard time not thinking about the way he passed, because Harry was less than two years old, and he died of what seemed like a heart attack.
Kadri was getting ready to go to work and I was on the couch pointing a laser light so he would chase it. He ran towards it, made a weird sound and simply fell to the floor. Not two seconds went by before I picked him up, but he already didn’t move or breathe at all.
We went to the veterinary as fast as we could, while I would perform some incompetent attemps of CPR over and over. Maybe I could have saved him if I knew CPR for cats, but alas, I don’t. It’s one of those things you just can’t imagine needing. Each moment in traffic seemed like an eternity, like the universe was conspiring against us. I noticed his hair falling out and getting stuck to my hand while we were in the car, and his nose and gums going white, but I kept trying to get him to breathe.
We got to the veterinary, gave him to the doctors, and then waited for a few minutes until they told us that he was gone.
That’s when we finally allowed ourselves to cry and start grieving.
Why does this hurt so much?
It hurts because he was so young and because of the unexplainable, unpredictable, unstoppable way he died. Pet owners know they are supposed to outlive their pets, but you expect them to go away when they are older, and you start processing the end before the moment they are gone. But Harry should have had so much more time! In the words of the writer Dave Eggers, “the death of a young person for no reason is an apocalypse.”
It hurts because it wasn’t fair. We didn’t neglect Harry in any way. We worked so hard in trying to give Harry the best life we could. When you do your best, you subconsciously expect to be rewarded fairly. But life is not fair, and as the saying goes, bad things happen to good people. The powerlesness hurts.
It hurts because catrastophes and accidents trigger feelings of guilt. I’ve asked myself “what if?” and “if only” hundreds of times already. I can’t help to think that maybe I had something to do with his passing. Did the laser get him too excited? Did the many times we had to move get him too stressed? Was the food in the new country bad for him? Should I have been more responsible and learned CPR as soon as we adopted him? The hypotheticals haunt me.
However, amidst all the pain, Kadri and I have also found reasons to be joyful.
We try to be grateful for the two years we got with him, and not sad for the eight to ten years that we missed. We talked about whether we would do it again even if we knew how the story would end, and we both agree: “Hell yeah, we would!” Harry was worth it.
He was the only “constant” during the very rocky and tumultuous two years of moving between multiple homes in Argentina and Estonia. Despite the chaos, Harry was always there, present and oblivious to petty problems like only animals can.
Ironically (and tragically), Harry passed away three days after moving to our final destination; we were finally done! Things were supposed to now be calm, we were all going to finally relax and enjoy each other at home. In a way, I like to think that Harry came into our lives when things were about to get chaotic and carried us all the way until the end; Harry accomplished his mission, and it was up to us now to keep going.
He was our cheerful companion, he made every house our home, and like Kadri likes to say, he had such a personality; his many antics helped us remember the simplicity of life.
This loss has taught me so much about myself, so much about what matters to me. I’m sure many people can’t relate to these feelings towards a pet, because I know I wouldn’t have been able to a week ago.
I miss you, Harry, so much. I still can’t believe you’re gone. I still expect you to be at our feet in bed when we wake up, coming to meet us at the door when we get home, or asking for caresses while I’m working.
I look at your pictures and videos often, and cry thinking of how much more you deserved.
But I’m grateful. I’m grateful you came into our lives, and I’m grateful for all you taught me, as I hope this letter shows.
I used to be sceptical of people’s love for animals or other things I didn’t relate to, but now I understand…
Love, like purpose, is a choice. You love because of how much you decide to love, to work for something. You can create purpose around anything that demands effort, and you can feel extreme love for anything you decide to care for.
We chose to love you deeply, Harry, and you made our lives better. Thanks to you, I now see that the best part of life is caring for others, and choosing to love them deeply.
If you being gone hurts so much, is because you were loved that much, because you gave us that much.
As Kadri said, may you have unlimited yummies to snack, chopsticks and earplugs to play with, and warm legs and big beds to sleep on in cat heaven.
I love you, Harry. Thank you, and know that you can rest in peace.