Our Message to Gracey
Since you’ve been gone we are doing our best to pick up and carry on but to be honest it hasn’t been easy. Coming back to our home without you was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Putting the key into the door and not seeing your happy face running towards me made my heart sink and tears stream down my face.
Stepping inside, I saw your water fountain unplugged and stagnant. I made it to the kitchen, put down my bags and stood still. Not hearing your voice telling me about your day, not being able to scoop you up and bury my face in your neck and not being able to carry you out into the sun room to look out over the yard, was more than I could take. Lazy Leopard looks so lonely. I sat down and had a good cry. The kind of cry where you can’t breathe for a few moments and you think you can’t go on. But we do go on, just on a different journey.
I thought I would fill the bird feeders and take Bossy Back Yard Blue Jay his peanuts. I procrastinated coming home, stopping by the store to load up on food for your friends. I made it to the garage and lifted the hatch on the Jeep but that was as far as I made it that day. I felt so weak and vulnerable. I thought I couldn’t fill the feeders without being able to see your face supervising my every move from your windows in the sun room. I wouldn’t be able to touch your pink nose through the glass on my way back inside.
I cleaned out the refrigerator of all the different types of food we had for you. Each lid turned with the hope that you would eat. We didn’t know you were so sick Gracey or we wouldn’t have tried so hard to make you eat. You were such a good girl and so patient with us. I washed up your bowls and syringes and packed up your little tiger rug.
I tried to be strong when your dad came home because I know how much he is hurting too. But when I saw his face, I fell apart instead. He wrapped his arms around me and said, “Let’s go for a ride. That’s what the old folks do.” And this made me laugh. We went for that ride to postpone being alone in the house without you. Our home feels so empty. Your parents are lost without you.
Your dad went back to drinking coffee in the morning. Your morning tea ritual was a big part of his day. He tried to make tea in his Meow Chow mug but just couldn’t. He moved over to the sofa and drank his coffee watching the early morning news. Without you dancing on the counter, the kitchen was just too lonely for him. I ate a boiled egg instead of Fage yogurt for breakfast, without you here I couldn’t open the container.
Since you’ve been gone, we could sleep in longer if we wanted but we don’t. I could leave my water glass on the end table by the sofa, but I still guard it and take it back over to the kitchen sink. I could leave the office door open because you aren’t planning any sneak attacks on the cactus but I shut the door anyway. Bad Kitty is still in the corner.
Our friends from work sent us a dozen beautiful sunflowers. I don’t know how they knew I love sunflowers. Your dad helped me cut the stems because I was shaking and we arranged them in the glass vase. We could have set them in the middle of the table as a centerpiece without worrying they would be knocked over, but your dad set them high up on the counter. He said they would get more sun that way. And I just smiled.
We could reclaim the master bath as our own, but your litter pan is still there. When we set the alarm we don’t have to hit silent to protect your ears, but we do anyway. We see you out of the corner of our eyes and start to look for you around the house. Sometimes we think we hear your little claws on the hard wood floor and our hearts race, only to realize, it can’t be you.
Spring time brings thunderstorms and you were so afraid of them. We worried so much that you might be home alone when a storm went through. Last summer your dad took his vacation to stay home with you when I was in Namibia. I think that was the greatest gift he ever gave to me. He loves you so much he didn’t want you to be home alone during the day for so long a time and I didn’t worry as much leaving you.
I started thinking about how much we love you and that we tried our best to give you your best life. We didn’t travel together overnight for five years because one of us needed to stay with you to make sure you got your medicine and you were doing fine. In December, we drove all the way home from our graduation ceremony to be with you, just to turn around early the next morning to drive the three hours back for me to speak at the Cincinnati Zoo. And you know what, you were worth every bit of effort we ever made to keep you happy and healthy.
Your dad and I are trying hard but our hearts are so broken. We promise to try to think about the happy times during our lives together. We just need more time.
Joanne and Paul