This is something I was not looking forward to writing but until I get it out, it'll bottle up whatever's behind it.
My cat Shadow died early on January 1st. My wife found her dead and stiff in front of the fireplace. She'd been alive a little after midnight but she hadn't lasted until the dawn. It was horrible watching her slowly die over the course of a few days. She wouldn't eat, wouldn't drink. She was so weak. She could hardly walk, towards the end, she couldn't lie on her belly and instead rolled onto her side and lay like that for hours. She was fourteen.
There were a few things to be grateful for, I guess. She didn't seem to be in any pain, so far as I could tell. She'd just...given up. She purred when petted, right up until the end. The cat that never seemed to care about any of us seemed glad to see us, at the end. She even jumped up on the bed, a few days before she died. That was something she rarely did. She only allowed herself to be petted on her terms. She loved feet, for some reason, and would rub up against my toes for hours. Then she'd bolt if you sat forward to stroke her. She lasted long enough for my friend Seann to come and say goodbye. We bought her together, back when we were roommates. She always liked Seann a bit more than she did me.
I buried her in the garden, with a pick and shovel. It was a lot more work than I expected. I'm glad. It shouldn't be easy putting someone to rest. It should be dirty, hard work. Your back should ache. You should get blisters. The hole is never as big or a deep as you think it should be. But in the end, you stop and put her in the ground. I said 'bye Shadow' and filled in the hole.
My father buried the first cat we had, a Siamese cat named Spunky that I loved dearly. It must have been a lot for work for him, too. I never appreciated that gesture he made for us kids but now that I've performed the rite, I do.
Her death did not come as a surprise. She'd be declining for a while. But I have a hole in my life in the shape of a small cat. And I don't know how to fill it. Time will take care of that, I'm sure. For now, I'll read and then write, I have so much to do. I'll talk more about my writing plans for the new year. But not now. Not today or yesterday. Tomorrow will come and it won't have a Shadow in it. But it will come, nonetheless.