Week 8 — Tri-One: Mourning With Gratitude


Terry Merrill Wilcox Week 8Here it is.  The official 8 week picture.  I am not eating too much more than I was before I became pregnant, but I feel as if I am doubling in size every hour.  My whole body feels heavier.  The nausea is subsiding, but it is still difficult to eat very much at one time.

All things considered, this has been one hell of a week.  When you know you have an enormous amount to be grateful for and joyous about — it feels strange to be in a place of such immense grief.

Going from the joy of seeing my little dumplings on Wednesday to putting down my first baby (and quite honestly, my longest relationship to date) on Thursday — it was a lot to handle emotionally.  (FYI – Jonathan has almost eight more years to go before he surpasses Boomer as my longest relationship.)

I spent the past few days at a yoga retreat in Ojai, California at a beautiful place called Casa Barranca.  Wow.  It was breathtaking.

Jonathan dropped me off at around 3:00 on Friday.  The first person we met was the house cat, Morocco — though we called him Rocco for short.  He greeted both Jonathan and me at the front door.  In some ways it felt like he was waiting for us; as if he knew these people needed to hug a cat today.  He was so strong and young.  It has been years since I was around a young cat for any length of time.

Within minutes of Jonathan leaving, Rocco had followed me up to my room and onto my bed.

Boy was he a great distraction for my broken heart that night.  After yoga and dinner we were sitting around the fire and back he came.  Crashing right next to me on the bench.  That night he came into our room and ended up camping out on my bed right between my legs.  I knew at that point Boomer must have sent him and said to him, “Get between her legs.  It irritates her, but she won’t move because she wants to keep you happy.” Boomer was speaking from experience and he was right.  I didn’t move because I didn’t want him to leave me.  I liked the heaviness next to my legs.  I have no idea when he finally left, but I fell fast asleep with him draped over my legs and it was so comforting.  So calming.

By Saturday, I was so busy I barely saw Rocco.  I had placed a picture of Boomer with his prayer on the altar in the yoga studio.  Somehow having him in the room with me was comforting.  As I moved through the yoga poses and the breathing exercises; I was simultaneously filled with joy and sadness.  I hated letting my first baby go.  It hurt like hell.  Each time I remembered Boomer was gone from this earth I felt the sting behind my eyes and the tears so desperately wanting to escape.  Death is so cruel but so much a part of life.

As the day wore on, I had some time to reflect on Boomer alone and how the relationship had evolved and what it had taught me.

Young women who need an animal (like I always have) tend to get cats because they are easy.  When they’re young they are easy.  You get a water fountain, a big food container you can be gone overnight or for the weekend, no problem.  Cats are low maintenance.  I have always had one.  The only time I have not lived with a cat or cats was my first three semesters of college and the first few months I lived in New York.  Otherwise, I always had a cat in tow.

For many years Boomer was low maintenance, but I would say for the past ten years I have thought I was going to lose him on more than one occasion.

Loving Boomer taught me a lot about life and love, and it is only after the almost 18 years of persevering through life with me that I can finally see it.

He taught me what it means to love, honor and cherish someone until the end of their days.  He taught me what it means to care for someone when they can no longer care for themselves in the ways they once did.  He taught me patience.  He taught me gentleness.  As his hind legs grew weaker, he taught me how to be okay if he got in the general vicinity of his litter box.   He taught me that if someone is important to you, then they are important to you no matter what difficulties they may be having.  He taught that sacrificing for the people we love isn’t really a sacrifice, it’s a gift.  He taught me how to love unconditionally.  He taught me what was important in life, and generally you don’t have to look very far to find it.  And most importantly, he taught me how to look into someone’s eyes and let go when I so desperately wanted to hang on tighter.

These are pretty amazing lessons for an old cat, huh?

We will have other animals (in fact, we are already in discussions because the house feels empty), but I know I will never have quite the relationship I had with Boomer.  With the Dumplings coming and life changing so rapidly, that sort of bond will be almost impossible to develop. We’ll have family pets, and we’ll love them until the end of their days — but no one can ever replace Boomer.

Jonathan and I doted on Boomer day and night.  He was one lucky cat, and we felt blessed every day to have him.  In some ways, we always felt like he was doing us a favor by hanging around as long as he did.  We needed him to care for as we fought through all the struggles of our own.  He gave us a purpose.  Someone to focus on and care for outside of ourselves.

No one who ever met Boomer forgot him.  We most certainly will never forget him.  His stoic, old cat wisdom and that amazingly expressive face.

Oh, how we loved that face.

Do you want a dog?

Sure, I said, but if you want a puppy or kitten it must be picked out now.  I cannot have two infants, a puppy and a kitten at the same time.  We need the summer to train them.

What about a puppy and a kitten?  They can grow up together.

I laugh.

He is a really optimistic guy.  Puppy.  Kittens.  Having twins.  Buying a new house, most likely in another state … my new life will be chaos.

Boomer will always be in my heart and on my desktop, but a part of me is looking forward to all the young energy that is about to enter my life.  Grateful to Boomer.  Grateful to the Dumplings.  Grateful to the new fur babies we have not even met yet — but one will go by the name of Igor.

In 2004, on an elevator in Vienna, we met a dog named Igor.  Jonathan and I both fell in love with him.  We decided that cold, December day that Igor would be the first pet we ever bring home together.  Our first pet.  Igor.  And it will be so.  It will be so very soon.

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