Well, this is a new one for me--dealing with this so directly. My childhood cat and dog both passed away while I was off in college. I felt some sadness, no doubt, but it was never anything like this. Now, the color just seems to have drained from my world, and I'm challenged to see value in my daily routine. Logically, I know this is a silly way to be, but...
I'm hoping it's just a matter of time.
Late Friday night, our 19-year-old female tuxedo kitty passed away, literally while we sat petting her. We'd noticed Thursday evening that she'd almost stopped eating, and had made a vet appointment for Saturday morning. She couldn't wait. By Friday afternoon, she was lying in strange positions and in secluded locations around the house, and her breathing was apparently very labored. We live on a small island with no after-hours animal emergency services, and could only watch and wait--and hope that she'd survive until morning. Shortly before 10:30pm, she summoned us with a long, low meow. My wife and I found her lying on her side, barely breathing, and immediately sat down beside her. Less than a minute later, as we sat stroking her side, she convulsed twice and then went still--gone. We kissed her little furry head and cried on each other's shoulders for what seemed like an hour. It was pretty devastating.
My wife and I adopted our kitty from a shelter only weeks after we were married, and for more than five years she was like our only child. She was a real people-lover, and was very talkative, always eager to give meow lessons to anybody who was willing to try. Our human children, now ages 8 and 11, had not known a day without her before waking up Saturday morning to find her gone. She was two years old when we adopted her, and was ours for seventeen more. And, yesterday afternoon, those seventeen years of fond memories were what kept me going, with blistered and bleeding hands, as I pickaxed a grave for her in the clay-like soil of our back yard. She was laid to rest in her favorite bed, surrounded by her favorite toys, all the catnip we had left in the cupboards, and a tear-streaked card that the kids had made for her. The site is temporarily topped with paver stones and a vase of flowers while the cement gravestone we all made today finishes curing.
I'm spent. I can't remember the last time I was this sad about a thing. I don't think there is a last time, actually; this is a new record. Every remotely meow-like sound I hear has me straining to hear her approaching footsteps, or even readying to meow back--before I catch myself. I'm not sure I'll do well without a kitty, and yet the thought of getting another anytime soon is almost repulsive to me, not simply because it feels like an offense to our deceased kitty's memory, but also because I know I'd be judging any new pet by an unfair standard. Nothing can reasonably be expected to substitute for 17 years of familiarity.
So what to do? I assume that this must simply pass in time, and that there's no real remedy, per se.
Writing about it is sort of therapeutic, though. I apologize if reading about it is quite the opposite!