One of my favorite writers, Neil Gaiman, has been writing about his dying cat. I can’t really link just one entry because there are several, which makes sense to me because if Marley had been dying for longer than a day and a half, I would never have stopped writing about it.
(Oh fine. Here’s the one entry. It’s what every pet owner wants to do when their animal dies, which is to show everyone why they loved them, and convey the sadness and helplessness that come with having to let them go.)
I like Neil Gaiman’s blog because, again, duh, he’s one of my favorite writers, but also because he writes as if the million plus followers of his blog are his personal friends. It’s that casual and when he says he appreciates how people have been sharing their stories of their own dying pets, it truly does seem as though it means something to him. This makes sense to me too, because although I felt like an idiot for talking about my dog so much, everyone who said such nice things to me (everyone who does, actually) made me feel better.
Then I read that blog and felt worse. Just kidding. I didn’t feel worse. I felt sad. I felt lonely. I felt like he knew exactly what I felt when he said,
“And I’m wondering what it is about this small blind cat that inspires such behaviour — mine, Olga’s, Lorraine’s…. I’ve had cats in this house for 18 years, and there are cat-graves down by gazebo. Two cats died of old age last year. It wasn’t like this.
I think it may be the love. Hers, once given, was yours, unconditionally and utterly.”
I’ve had dogs and cats and rabbits and hamsters and rats (and fish, but they don’t count because I didn’t like them much), and I was quite sad when a few of them died, but never as sad as I was with Marley. It was all the love. Which is, in fact, what I told her when we had to leave her at the vet hospital for a treatment we thought might save her life (it didn’t). It might be better to think of this being said with my creepy dog voice, only quieter, because I was halfway crying but trying to make my lovely, loveable, lovingest dog feel better about her owners leaving her for the night when I said, “honey, you will be okay, because you have all the loves.”
Which is why all of Neil Gaiman’s (it seems weird to just say “Neil’s” because I don’t know him, yet the first and last name sounds equally strange, I guess) entries about Zoe are just…they are just heartbreaking. At the same time, though, they are uplifting. Because they are kind and sweet, of course, but also because, as I learned when I first wrote about Marley, there are so many people out there who understand that your pets are not JUST pets, and that you have every right to be and stay sad because they aren’t here anymore.