my brave one

Her final hours.

“You will always be my hero/I will always be your sea.” I read these lines yesterday, and I fell to my knees, weeping. My whole body was an earthquake, and I felt as if the ground would open up and swallow me whole. I can’t even begin to articulate losing Sophie. Images of her come in waves and I can’t stop the shaking. I can’t stop from crying so publicly. I can still smell her everywhere. She ghosts, and I move through my home as if I were a guest because it is forever hers. My father tells me to keep the smell for as long as I can. He tells me that it’ll never not hurt, because as the days pass, her loss will become easier to bear. I know this is true, but right now I can’t imagine it possible.

As writers, we have this ability to write out pain, put it somewhere else, somewhere distant and quiet, but Sophie’s loss is palpable. She is not yet a thing that can be put someplace, can be written about, so I sit here engulfed in the enormity of her loss. And suddenly death is reduced to a patch of fur rising and then a patch of fur ceasing to rise. They wrapped her up like a present and took her from me, and all I can think is where is my girl? Where is my sweet, difficult little girl?

At one point, I will write about how she’s literally changed my life. Seven years of greatness, of love and sweetness and sickness and everything in between. She was my constant, my brave one, and all I can say now is that I miss her. I feel as if every bone in my body is breaking and I can’t stop it.

Below is my final moment of holding her in my arms as she was breathing, but falling asleep — moments before her injection — and then I laid her quietly down my bed and buried myself in her hair. I miss her so very much.

Please understand if I can’t comment right now. I just wanted to share our final days together, and how she made me so very happy. Please hold on to your loved ones. Please be kind.

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30 thoughts on “my brave one

  1. I hate it that this is my first comment here, but as I’ve mentioned to you on twitter, I know where you are right now. We are sitting with a lingerer. Living with cancer with one of our beloved pups. We have three, but she’s my girl. I won’t say any more except to say, I know these tears you weep. I’ve wept them, and I will again. What I also know is this: you gave Soph the best gift you could have given her yesterday. Letting go for her when she couldn’t for herself. It’s that kind of selfless love that these critters teach us. I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way.

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    1. Lauren — I am so terribly sorry to hear this. This is all BULLSHIT, and I know that no words are even worthy of response. But I feel everything with you right now and I am sending tidal waves of love.

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  2. I’m very sorry for your loss. As a fellow animal lover, I have been there myself on more than one occasion. And you’re right, things will get easier with time.

    Having spent many years working at a vet hospital, I’m going to pass a little advice your way; One of the easiest ways some people are able to work through the pain is to get another animal as soon as you’re ready. It is not to replace the one you’ve lost; there is no way to ever replace what you felt for her! We’ve always liked to view it as a way to honor her memory. Many of my clients in the past would choose to adopt an animal in need from a shelter. They spoke of honoring memories by saving a life.

    My heart goes out to you right now. I currently have three cats and one dog and I dread the day when the time comes that I will be forced into making that difficult decision. Many hugs to you, it’s clear how much love you had for eachother!

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  3. My heart weeps for you so much right now. I’ve lost lots of pets in my life, an each of them felt like a knife in my gut. I went home yesterday after seeing your pictures on Instagram and held my little Gizmo so tight. I hope the pain subsides and you are left with nothing but happy memories soon.

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  4. I am so sorry for your loss. My heart breaks just reading your story. I have lost my cat a few years ago so I know how it feels. I didn’t stop crying for days, but it does get better. Hold on to all the beautiful memories you had together, it will help you get through it. xx Hugs xx

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  5. I remember feeling every word of this, particularly knowing what your father said is true (it is) but not feeling in your heart that it’s possible just now. It goes to show what extraordinary companions and teachers animals are, that we miss them so much.

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  6. My heart aches for you & Sophie. So sorry! I have a shih Tzu who will be 11 in Oct. Mia. She’s my baby girl. I can’t imagine losing her. I’ve had her since she was 8 wks.

    Peace & comfort during this difficult time.

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  7. Thank you for sharing Sophie with us. I think we all feel very grateful for that and also for your words. How kind of you to share with us. Wish I could hug you as hard as you were hugging Sophie. Be kind to yourself. xo

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  8. So sorry Felicia, I’m totally choked up … Thank God Sophie had you to help her pass with total love and devotion; you gave her a complete life. Be thankful for the wonderful memories, she was such a beautiful girl!

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  9. This is really heartbreaking, Felicia. Especially that last picture. My childhood cat, who I adored, was killed by a neighborhood dog the day I moved into college. My parents kept it from me until my dad could come up to see me on Parent’s Weekend because he knew I would be a total wreck. It was one of my first “deaths” that I had to deal with, and it totally rocked me. Only people who have loved animals as dearly as people can understand that their loss is just as palpable, just as earth shattering.

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  10. Reading this was heart-wrenching as I went through similar anguish during/after the loss of my two dogs with whom I grew up. Now, with a cat, I know the same pain will come one day and it haunts me when I’m at my most pessimistic. Those dogs enriched my life in ways I never could have expected and now, 4 years on since they’ve passed, I’m able to think of the years I had with them with joy, less pain. The same will be true for you in time – until then, heed your father’s advice. It may be strange by I even kept a shock of their fur in a ziplock bag which I still have today. As we learned from Joan Didion, there is no need to rush through this grief.

    Sending you strength!

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  11. Oh Felicia, I am so very sorry for you and your beautiful girl. Our feline fur baby Max died in our arms 8 weeks ago, so I know this place too. Your father is so right, the pain never goes but it becomes part of the crazy patchwork, part of our souls. Someone told us that the grief that we feel is equal to our love; it is infinite. Please take gentle loving care of your good self. Sophie is blessed to have such a loving and passionate mama. Love, Katrina xx

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  12. Felicia, I hope you feel better soon. I lost my 16 y.o. cat last year and your very eloquent article on Medium made me cry. I actually left mine at the vet to be euthanized (after he was sedated) and wasn’t there for his last moments. Well, let’s just say i can’t forgive myself for that. It’s very good that you had the chance to be with your cat for her last moments. Anyway, don’t fixate on them for too much. Try to remember those when you were both happy. I remember googling “how to deal with pet loss” a few days after and found this corny poem (which i like) at the bottom of one site.

    Do not stand at my grave and weep.
    I am not there, I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the diamond glints on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
    I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
    When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there, I did not die.

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  13. Felicia–My heart truly goes out to you. I was there when my dog died almost a year ago and yet my heart still aches. I tell you this to let you know that I understand your grief. Wishing that you find moments of comfort, Jess

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