It took me a long time to decide whether or not I should share this story with you. When I wrote this, it was with a heavy heart and an unconditional appreciation for this small and wise soul.
The moment your pet dies, actually, the moment you realise you are a sensitive and perceptive human being with utmost respect and appreciation for life and animals… you are screwed. Yet, you can be even more screwed when your pet is actually not yours.
To begin with, my cousins had a cat. At that time, I did not like cats, basically I barely respected them as pets because I thought they were hypocrites and interested only in food and satisfying their needs. To be honest, I looked at them as self-centred creatures, that faked everything until they got what they wanted.
However, I love animals in general, and when I met the little bugger, I felt instantly addicted to her. I remember how I wanted to get close to her by being as creative as possible in drawing her attention. I wanted her to feel at least half as giddy as I was, simply by being around her. I would walk on all fours, or find different objects to make her play with them.
Eventually, I found what drove her crazy: my hair tie. She would play with it like crazy, you could have thrown it to her and she would sometimes fetch, or she would play by herself minutes without end. My god, I was so content and excited that I had finally discovered what she liked.
As years passed by, I wasn’t a constant presence in her life, until this year – actually the past two years – when I had to live with her, and our bond grew into a strong one.
I realised how much I started to care about her, and how simple things that she would do – like how she would always interrupt me whenever I started to sing, or when she cried for food whenever she would see me open the refrigerator door – would actually make my day better. You see, as humans, we cannot acknowledge how small gestures affect us, and how their role is decisive in determining our mood, mental or physical health, because they are a constant in our lives. Yet, when they start fading away, or when you lose them completely…well, you are fucked without even knowing. Basically, you feel abused or stabbed in the heart when it all turns to dust.
When that happens and you have no power over your feelings whatsoever – you experience different phases of hell.
Well, my step-pet is going to die in a couple of hours. The diseases she has, has taken full control over her as she can barely keep her head straight, she lost 4 kilograms out 7 or 8, her skin and eyes have turned yellow, and basically her body has been shutting down for the last 9 days. In the rare moments that she tries to be aware of the environment around her, she moves her tail, or will even look you in the eyes, but for briefs moments, until the agonizing pain takes over her.
At the moment, she’s found a dark and small place in the house to die. A few minutes ago, as I was returning to my room, my eyes fell upon hers, knowing I was just gazing at a shadow of what was once Suzi. But at that particular moment, she looked me straight in the eyes, and I could feel a glimmering trace of her old self. I went immediately where she was lying, and sitting on my knees, I started to gently caress her fur and her fragile head. Here is when, at this particular moment, I felt my heart heavier than ever: she leaned her head towards my hand as if to pet her one more time in her favourite spots.
She leaned her head to the left, then right, just as she would do when she was herself again, but this time I cannot imagine the effort she had put in, and the pain she must have felt to act as she once used to. I took the gesture as a reminder of her old behavior, and how she would have liked for us to cherish and take with us these great moments. Somehow, I believe that she did not want us to remember her in this terminal state, but to be happy of all the amazing times we have shared.
I don’t know if I am imagining all of this or I feel these emotions because I am too invested in her, but it all seems like an unspoken agreement in which, she, with the last strength in her body, said her goodbyes by responding to my touch. When I stood up, her small, yellowy eyes followed my moves, slowly, and I looked at her one more time before accepting that it was the last time I would ever lay my eyes on her.
Suzi, you will forever live in our memory, and I will cherish the moments we have spent together, and how you stood by my side when I felt hopeless. I will carry you in my heart from now on forever.