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Unconditional Love

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My marriage five years ago was a "package deal" and brought two cats
into my life. I didn't grow up with indoor cats, and the first year of the marriage involved some very stressful adjustments as the pair of pampered kitties took over my previously calm and predictable household. Slowly, sometimes painfully, I eventually came to tolerate the new additions to the family, and then developed a strong bond with the shy and nervous little slate-gray kitty, Valeria. Perhaps we were just made to be a matched set.

Valeria was a Russian Blue, discarded to the animal shelter for the crime of being born with a small white patch of fur on her chest, which "marred" her pedigree potential. My wife-to-be adopted her from a large litter of squirming little gray and white kittens in 1989. Valeria was always timid and reclusive around strangers, merely a shadow on the run for cover when company arrived. When other animals dared to trespass on her turf, she was fierce and fearless, leaping into any fray to send the intruder on its way. Neighborhood cats, raccoons, and once even a coyote, all turned tail and ran rather than face our little whirling dervish of claws and puffed gray fur as she defended her home and family. Always she returned quite pleased with herself, and usually without a single scratch.

Slowly Valeria came to trust me, and I her. She was full of quirks and odd little mannerisms, many of which I never came to understand. Petting was only allowed in "designated petting zones" - the crinkle paper in front of the hearth, the comforter on the bed, and the table in the laundry room. Sometimes the kitchen, depending on her mood, but anywhere else and she would cringe and scamper out of reach. She would go through great lengths to entice me to chase her to a petting spot, beckoning with a "mew", a roll of her head, or a sideways hop and flat-out run, trying to tease me into a pursuit. It was our little game. Usually the petting was "formal" and she had to stand at attention, rarely sitting or laying down. She would gaze deeply into my eyes and I felt a connection, an understanding, between us that I cannot put into words. As my wife so aptly put it, we were “buddies.†Friends, companions, chums through thick and thin.

Three weeks ago Valeria went to the vet for a broken tooth. The removal was routine, but after her surgery she just moped in the basement, just wanting to be alone. Concerned about a post-operative infection, my wife took her back in for a check-up. All her blood tests came back healthy, but the vet felt an odd lump in her chest. He decided to operate and remove the mass to have it tested. Valeria returned to us a rejuvenated kitty. She was energetic and happy. Only her purr and meow sounded somehow different and her breathing appeared a little labored. We dismissed it as a temporary side-effect of the surgery. A week later, on Saturday, the vet called with the test results. The mass was a lymph node, malignant with cancer. He recommended more tests to see if the cancer had spread. We were stunned, but hopeful since she appeared to be so much better after her surgery.

Valeria didn’t make it through the weekend. Sunday evening we heard the pet door as she went outside. My wife and I went for a walk. Upon returning, my wife found her, laying motionless in the yard. In a panic we rushed her to an emergency vet clinic but she was already gone. Hopefully it was relatively quick and painless. A heart attack or stroke brought on by the stress, or perhaps her cancer had already spread very rapidly through her system and it was just her time. She died at home, not under the needle of a well-meaning vet in an unfamiliar office with its scary sights, smells and sounds.

I’m a thirty-eight year old guy. We’re not supposed to cry about a cat, but there’s a pain in my heart that just won’t go away. I can pretend to be fine, but just under the surface there’s a burning sorrow that just screaming to get out. My wife and I hold it together through the workday but burst into tears when we get home. There’s her shelf in the laundry room – empty. There’s no little chirp “hello†in the kitchen in the morning. I walk down the hall – alone - with no scampering kitty to chase into the bedroom. I ache with all my heart for it to be some terrible mistake – an accounting error to be clarified and corrected with the safe return of my Valeria. But I know its over - she’s gone, moved on to the great beyond. I hope to see her again when my time comes. I’ll chase her to a petting spot and everything will be fine again.

We buried her in the back yard, back in a shady corner where she can keep her eternal vigil. She liked to sleep on a set of concrete block stairs in the yard, so I took them apart to construct her makeshift tomb. I think she would have liked it that way. She is laid to rest on a bed of her cherished crinkle paper. She has a sprinkling of catnip and the kibble she like to swat around the kitchen floor. Her cuddly toy, a small stuffed bear keeps her company.

They say that time heals all wounds. I know in the months and years to come, the stabs of pain and sorrow will become less frequent. Eventually I’ll be able to talk about her without choking up. Life will continue to pile on its endless commitments, duties, and chores, and the incredible sorrow I feel right now will slowly get painted over with other concerns. But I will never, ever forget her and the uncompromising friendship she gave me.

I love you, Valeria. Be good, be happy, and stay fierce.

Thanks for letting me talk. I’m a new member of your forum and I just come in and dump this. She was such a special kitty and maybe just a tiny bit of her has been passed on to some of you kind people whose hearts she didn’t have a chance to touch.
post #2 of 12
I'm so sorry
post #3 of 12
Your story made me cry. Valeria sounded like such a wonderful and special cat, and you both were lucky to have each other. It's hard loosing a pet because they give you so much love, it's sad that their little lives are so short. I don't know if you've read this poem, but it really is wonderful. Right now I'm sure Valeria is playing at the rainbow bridge knowing that she was is very loved.

Just this side of Heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an aniumal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so that they can run and play topgether. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made well and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content except for one small thing: they each miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group,flying over the green grass, his legs carring him faster and faster.

You have been spotted and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, not to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face: your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look on again into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life, but never absent from your heart.

Then, you cross the Rainbow Bridge together..
post #4 of 12
I know that people write to me and ask me how I can come to this forum everyday and read stories, and cry so much. I have heard mention on the boards how some people cannot come here because it makes them cry.

Truth be known, not all the stories posted here make me cry here. Perhaps because I am in rescue, and I deal with feline death more than most folks because of my emphasis on trying to help those cats who have been so abused prior to arriving at my home. I don't really know where the strength comes from, but it is there and I draw on it.

Your story, your life, the flow of your words, and the phrases you use, they made me cry. You transported me from my computer chair so that I could glimpse this beautiful Russian Blue, and see her bravado and swagger as she chased the bullies of her life from view. I see clearly your life with this little cat,(that you were sure wasn't going to mean that much to you.) I taste the tears in your voice as you talk about the inner struggle to understand the why of-- why is she gone? I understand your footsteps sound hollow now and your life feels so differently because she does not grace your day.

It is moments like these when I wish that clocks could be turned back, cats could be made whole, disease could be wiped from the planet. Valeria could chase the bullies from her life, all but one, the last one that somehow conquered her body, but NEVER her spirit!

I am sorry for your pain, I know it well. I know how it rips your soul in half....I also know there is hope, and in time you heal, you truly do.
post #5 of 12
I'm so sorry for your loss. Valeria was a wonderful cat and you loved her unconditionally. She loved you back the same way, I'm sure. Please take care of yourself and your wife too. Anytime you have something that you wish to get off your chest, be it regarding Valeria or anything in your life, do feel free to post it in the forum. We may not be there physically to help but we are all here to listen and a lot of times it makes a whole lot of things better. Do not feel shy or that you should not be saying such things. We
understand how tough life can be on us.

Willing be praying for you. Take care.
post #6 of 12
(((((great big hugs)))))) as inadequate as they may be
post #7 of 12
What a lovely remembrance of a lovely friend. I'll be a while mopping up. Thanks for sharing.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
I just want to say a heartfelt “thank you†to all the people to took the time to read my post and even more so to those who replied with your words of sympathy and support. I take great comfort in the thought of Valeria playing at the Rainbow Bridge until we are once again united. Eventually time will heal, but until then I will miss her terribly. I know I will never forget her, and will remain forever touched by her all too brief passage through my life. Perhaps the purpose in her being was to make me a better person for having known her.

In the few days since she’s been gone, I’ve come to realize how truly special she was to me. Never would I have imagined such grief over her loss. I realize only now how much she taught me – about friendship, pure and unconditional, about forgiveness, and about learning to love. She was indeed a special gift, or to borrow a quote from “Hissyâ€,
“She was on loan to us from God.â€

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, and take the time – make the time - to cherish every moment with your special friends, as I now wish that I had done more often.

Valeria’s “Dadâ€
post #9 of 12
What a beautiful heartfelt story about the life of your beloved kitty, Valeria.

I recently lost my cat, George. Much of what you expressed about the special bond that you shared and your overwhelming grief is exactly how I felt during the initial grieving period.

I also believe that George found his way into my life for a special reason. To teach me about unconditional love and to teach me to take the time to value those that we love and life itself.

I still feel cheated to have lost my best friend so suddenly and unexpectedly. And worse yet, to feel that I somehow made the wrong decision to go ahead with the surgery that literally did him in.

It has been less than a month and the wound is still quite raw.
It is getting better but there are moments when all the emotions come racing back and the tears begin to flow.

I found comfort in assembling a photo album of his pictures, by writing down all my favorite memories of him, and by posting poems & pics on my fridge. I would stop to read them and have a good cry. You need to cry. Trust me. I would cry when I woke up, when I took a shower, on my way to work. I even had to close my office door when I could not hold back any longer. I looked like someone socked me in the eyes they were so swollen!

My heart was aching to help another cat in need, and last weekend my children and I adopted a kitty at a local shelter. Morrell is a very shy grey cat (is there a connection with grey cats & shyness??). He looks a little like George, but trust me, they have two completely different personalities!

Take care.

post #10 of 12
Your story has me in tears! I am so sorry Valeria died. She sounds like she was a wonderful kitty. I think it was so sweet of you to bury her that way.
post #11 of 12
I am truely sorry for your loss, having all too recently gone thru such a loss myself I know the pain & emptyness it leaves. I am also sorry you feel that am man of your age should not cry over an animal. That is very wrong & I asure you, you are not alone, I find my husband drying his eyes standing up from a shadow, that just for a moment he swore was our Logan. The only words I can give you during this time to to remember & be happy for the time you did get to spend with such a wonderful & special spirit as Valeria.
post #12 of 12
I'm so sorry for your loss! Your writing really reflected your love and compassion for this feline.

Hopefully by posting here at the site, you are finding some comfort in like minded individuals who can share your pain.

RIP Valeria.

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