Friday, 21 November 2008
Losing a Loved One
Last week a friend rang me, deeply unhappy. One of her dogs, who'd had a very bad cough for months, had a tumour and had to be put down. This friend of mine is one of those generous people who will always look after nature's lost causes (I count humans in amongst those). If anytime you need something to do something, she will do it. And she'd never think of asking for money, when she could do with it. She is generous to a fault, always puts herself last, and at times rails against injustice in the world – against herself or her loved ones.
For those of you who don't have pets, they do take up a huge amount of our hearts. When something happens to them,it is utterly agonising. Not the same as losing a child, but not far off.
I asked this friend whether she was going to get another dog (she has a chocolate lab, so at least she's not entirely bereft of canine company).
“No,” she cried. “I couldn't bear to lose another one. It's far too painful. I never want to go through this again.”
This reminded me of a friend who lost her cat about a year ago and when I asked if she'd like a rescue cat as a present, she was vehement. “NO, Flowerpot,” she said. “I'm not having another cat. Ever. I can't bear it.”
She came round last night and we were talking about the rescue centre at Hayle, how if it hadn't been for Bussie, we might well have brought another dog back. “But Bussie would have packed his bags and left,” said Himself.
“Oh,” said Lyn and her face lit up. “He can come and live with me. I'd unseal the catflap for Bussie.”
I was telling this to an 80 year old friend who has had countless Old English Sheepdogs.
“Oh yes,” said Betty and laughed. “We all say that. And after a while, we go and get another one.”
Losing a loved one is never easy, whoever they are. I still have wonderful memories of my first cat, Minnie, an adorable tortoiseshell brought up by a labrador on a goat farm (her feline instincts were a little confused though she was a great mouser).
My last cat, Cyd, lived until the age of 18 and at the age of 16 took on a toyboy. I'd watch them frolicking together in the garden – like Margot Fonteyn with Nureyev, Cyd really did have a second lease of life.
When Cyd died, I couldn't stop crying for days. I couldn't bear having no one to feed in the mornings, no black little face yowling at me over the bedclothes. I hated coming home to an empty house, no black creature rubbing her haunches against my ankles. No one could replace Cyd, and I wouldn't want to, but I hated not having a cat.
My sister in law advised, “get another cat, completely different, as soon as possible.”
Instead of a female black cat, we ended up with a male rescue kitten, white with black splodges, who'd been abandoned over Christmas (can you imagine?) and after that, there was little time to be miserable.
In memory of Cyd, Himself suggested we made a collage of some of the best pictures of her, which now hangs up in the living room. I can look at those pictures now with a smile and remember what a loveable tyrant she was.
I'm sure that her spirit still lives on – come to think of it, Mollie's very like her...