I'm grateful to Jesse Nicole who wrote this essay about experiencing homelessness with cats in honor of Stabatha. You can follow Jesse on Twitter here.
By Jesse Nicole
You can know that you are going to lose one of your best friends, but I don't think you can ever be fully prepared for when it actually happens. Don't worry, this may be a bittersweet story, but i'd like to think that it is still, in its own way, a happy one.
I had 3 kitties- all rescues from when they were babies. Missy, the eldest, died very suddenly when she was 15 years old. I was devastated and shocked, but when I looked back at the events of that day, I realized that although I did not get to say goodbye to her, per se, she had, in fact, said goodbye to me, in her very unique, Missy-esque way, and I will always be grateful for that.
After having just Missy and I for a while, Frankie came along. He was no more than 3 weeks old, and abandoned. I had to bottle feed him and I was not sure he was going to make it, but I was determined to try and save this tiny boobieman. I think It was really the other way around.
Maybe a year later, Whisper showed up on my doorstep, maybe 6 weeks old. Welcome to the family, tiny, quiet void kitteh!...Oh, but she did not stay quiet for long at all!
These furbabies were (are) my best buds and a huge part of my life. I have had multiple surgeries, and they ALWAYS knew where they could and couldn't step/jump/nuzzle on my body when I got home. They were always so gentle, my little feline nurses!
I became homeless in December of 2019 and am SO thankful that I had friends who were able to take Frankie and Whisper in together til I finally found a place for the 3 of us to live. That took close to a years, and I was miserable without them, but happy that they were safe and well- loved by their aunties!
I have type one diabetes, and I called Frankie my "feline CGM" (Continuous Glucose Monitor) because he would alert me to a crashing blood sugar before my actual CGM device would. I don't know how he did it, but he did. without fail, and right up through his ending days. I am convinced that he was trying to teach Whisper to do the same, because she doesn't do it as regularly, but she does do it. It's quite amazing, really...
Anyway, we discovered that Frankie had a mass on his left hind paw and he was losing some weight right before he came back to stay with me. The vet said it was time, but I could tell that it wasn't and we got a 2nd opinion. He definitely still had life left in him, and I am forever grateful for that time.
We were told in September that it was time, and he was with us til early April... but at this point, we were fully in pandemic mode. Even when I brought him to the vet for a check-up, I wasn't able to be there to hold and comfort him. How could I take him to "say goodbye" and not be able to hold him, to rock him, to cry my eyes out? Not possible.
Thankfully, I was granted the opportunity to have a home visit for this, so I was able to be right there with him, and talk to him and tell him that I love him and thank him for being the best boy in the world. I am forever grateful for this. I know that not eveyone has the chance to say goodbye, and I am glad that I got to- because Frankie would have been 18 a couple of weeks ago, so really it was almost half of my entire life that I had him...that we had each other.
Now it is just me and Whisper against the world. Whisper is almost 17 and she definitely spent time being confused and wondering where her brother went. Sometimes i feel like he is still here with us, by the way she acts... she is such a good girl. She is such a weirdo and I love her. We are still in this pandemic at the time of this writing, and I have no idea when it will end, but I am super grateful for my purry, noisy, little floofy girl.
Losing our fuzzy family members is never easy, but once you can get past the sorrow and pain (and that can take a while, and THAT IS OKAY, NOBODY CAN TELL YOU HOW LONG TO GRIEVE) then you can start focusing on the good times, the funny things, the silliness, the smiles, the funny noises they made- any number of things that your sorrow made you cry about... now you can smile again.