A year ago, I said goodbye to my Hershey boy. It was a strange moment for me, losing him. Part of me had expected that the be the end result of our visit to the pet emergency room ( which I chose only because my friend worked there at the time) which was comforting for me. Part of me was also hopeful that day, that all he would need was some medicine and he would be just fine.
But the poor little guy was not fine. He was old, losing weight due to not being able to eat or keep much food down. He was in much pain and discomfort and so I had to make the hard choice. I asked the vet if doing further blood tests would do him any good. In her gentle way she told myself and my sister no, no it wouldn’t. I didn’t want Hershey to spent a few days scared and alone in the hospital, though well cared for by the compassionate vets and vet techs. Especially since in the end the result would have been the same. I had to say goodbye.
That night when I got home, I threw out his food, litter box and favorite toy. I was dealing with the loss by being practical. I didn’t need these things anymore after all. Might as well get rid of it all. I have kept his bed though. That I washed and placed inside my closet. It is still sitting in there as I write this post.
Those first few nights of falling asleep were hard without him. Hershey had been such a cuddle bug, I held my pillow tight to my body that night and for a few nights afterwards. Coming home with his mewing chastising me for being away was a tough adjustment. I had friends ask me about adopting another pet and I was not sure about doing so just yet.
Until one day while scrolling through Instagram I came across a post asking for someone to take in their cat. At first I scrolled past it, then back again, then past it again. I exited the app and then went back in. Looking at the photo of the cat, I knew she was mine. I messaged her mommy, a mutual acquaintance about taking in the cat. By the end of the week I was meeting Nala and taking her home after an hour or so.
Poor cat had no idea what was happening, meowing the entire drive home, finding various hiding places at the house. I knew to be patient as she adjusted to the change, there were a few hissing incidents during the times I overstepped her boundaries. But, as time went on she became comfortable, allowing me to pet her and even sleeping on the bed with me.
I put out Hershey’s bed for her but she never used it. Perhaps she could smell Hershey’s scent despite all the times it had been washed. She preferred instead the couch in the living room or my bed to sleep. Still I kept the bed, even though it is not being used.
Nala is different from Hershey, more independent at times. She likes her alone time wheras Hershey could not be alone for too long. I wonder though how the two of them would of gotten along, how long it would of taken for them to learn to live with each other companionably. I still miss my Hershey boy but I also love my Nalalulu too.
That is what grieving does. I have lost family members and I remember when our beagle Pumpkin was gone. But she really was not my dog. Pets are an important part of our lives, we care for them and love them and they care for us too. Not only because we feed them either, though that is a big part of it.
It is learning that it is alright to miss the ones we have lost while having new joy and love in our lives. Learning to care through pain. That has been the biggest lesson in this year for me.