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Ups and downs

It feels sometimes like I’m starting to feel a little better, that some of the rawness is easing a little, and that maybe there’s some light at the end of the tunnel somewhere. And then, all of a sudden, that disappears and I’m back to feeling pretty desolate again. I’ve been looking at pictures of Stan and they make me smile. They make me smile with a big helping of sadness just now, but I’m smiling nonetheless. In the cupboard where we keep the mugs in the kitchen, up on the top shelf, is an “I love my cat” mug that is personalised with his photograph. It makes me smile and think how I love him, but it also puts a big ol’ lump in my throat just now too.

This morning I went into the utility room for something or other, which is where the box that my wife has put all his possessions inside still sits on the counter. It’s sad to look at that, but this morning it was the draining-board beside the sink that got me. It’s where we laid his body wrapped in a towel after we brought him back to the house after the accident. One glance and the terrible feeling of loss came back in an instant and there I was, blubbing again. I’m still beating myself up about the things I might have done differently and that would have changed events. It’s very hard not to do so.

I think the tears help. They release the pain and allow me to function, like the overspill on a dam they stop me breaking further. I don’t know if people think that it’s soppy for a grown man to be wearing his heart on his sleeve like this, but I’m finding that it helps to talk about how I’m feeling. I think that, day by day, it will get easier, and at some point my guilt will instead be that I’ve not cried or felt as sad, and that somehow that means I don’t care as much anymore. But that won’t be the case, I’ll never not care, it’s just the healing process.

I spent some time today reading a cat-owners thread on the web forum I frequent. I’ve spoken about Stan’s loss on there and how I’m feeling. I searched the thread today looking for posts from other people who had lost their cats in similar circumstances. I’m not sure if that seems weird, but I find that there is comfort to be taken from shared experiences in cases like this. Knowing we’re not alone in what we are going through makes the experinece a little less lonely somehow. That other people felt similar sadness, loss, and guilt when they lost their cats makes me realise that these are normal emotions (even though I already knew this anyway). I guess you take your comfort where you can find it.

I’ll close the blog today with another photo of Stan being Stan. We bought a new toaster a few weeks ago for our new kitchen and I left some of the polystyrene packaging on the table. It didn’t take long for Stan to find his new place to sit. 🙂 xxx

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Just carrying on

After taking the day off yesterday, I went back to work today. I work from home so it’s not like I have a commute or anything, but having a home office means that I’m still constantly reminded of Stan’s presence (and lack of it now 😦 ). He would sometimes jump up on my desk while I worked, often getting in my way until I would lift him back to the floor, gently chiding him for his mischievousness. Sometimes though he would hop onto the window-sill beside my desk an keep an eye on the toings-and-froings outside. Today, while working, I noticed three or four of his hairs there on the sill where he used to sit. They’re still there now as I type this. I don’t know how to deal with them. Part of me thinks I should just move them away so that I don’t feel sad every time I see them. Another part of me wants to be reminded of his presence and that I should feel sad. They’re his hairs and are precious now that he’s gone. But this in itself is somewhat silly as I’ve already tucked a small tuft of his fur into my phone case and, while it makes me feel bad to say so, they’re just hairs – he didn’t present them to me as a gift, they’re just a few stray strands that fell from him while he sat looking out of the window one day.

I always find it difficult to let things go, especially small physical mementos like this. It’s not even as though we don’t have other things to keep to treasure his memory. We have his collar and nametag, his food dishes and his bed (themselves in some cases hand-me-downs from our other cats), countless photos (including a bunch of Instax snaps stuck on the side of the fridge), some videos, plus all the memories held in our heads and hearts. Despite this, the thought of disposing of these few stray hairs upsets me, as though disposing of these hairs is somehow disposing of his memory, which it most definitely is not.

I think that, if my wife were to read this, she’d tell me I need to stop dwelling on things like this, that I need to think of the happy times and start to move on. I know she is as upset at Stan’s loss as I am, but she’s always been able to deal with things like mementoes in a more practical and non-sentimental fashion. She’s packed up his dishes and other possessions today, washed his bed, and will put them somewhere safe in the event we ever get another cat one day. I’m glad she’s done this as, while seeing these things tidied away upsets me, it also upset me to see them just hanging around knowing Stan will never be here to use them again, and I don’t know if I could have faced packing them away myself, at least not yet. His scratching-post is still in the utility room and I know that this will have to be thrown away. He managed to scratch large parts of the rope-binding off it while sharpening his claws and it’s not something that can really be donated elsewhere in its current state (although it’s probably still perfectly good for claw sharpening). So this will need to be disposed of, and it will instil another note of finality to his time here with us and bring me further sadness.

Maybe he’s looking down on me as I type these things, making mental note of my promises to let him nip and scratch me for treats, playtime and cuddles to his heart’s content. I like that thought.

I know that this is billed as a film photography blog, but at this particular time I feel I need to talk about how I’m feeling, both as a tribute to Stan, and also as a means of dealing with my emotions. He meant so very much to me.

Stan was never one to miss an opportuinty of a comfy place to sleep XXX
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Grieving

I made the arrangements today for Stan’s body to be taken to the pet crematorium. He, or his body at least, should now be there and we’ll probably have his ashes back with us later in the week. We’ve had all our other cats cremated when their lives ended and Stan will be in good company amongst them when he is returned.

I’m grieving for his loss and it hurts. Everywhere I look there is evidence of him, either in the form of his possessions, or in memories of his life. I want him back so much but know I can’t and it’s so painful. I feel guilty that I didn’t look after him well enough and that it’s my fault he was out when he was. I also feel guilty for the times I pushed him away because I had to get on with other things. I know that this is part of the grief and a normal thing to experience, and that none of us can see the future before it happens, but it doesn’t stop me reliving events and somehow trying to wind back time to change how it unfolded. I would take all the annoyance he could throw at me without complaint to have him back. He was my friend and I love him.

I was supposed to have my laptop re-built today but had to cancel the appointment and take a sick day. The thought of being in the drab grey room where the work would be carried out was not something I felt I could bear. Instead I’ve spent most of the day with the TV switched to daytime programmes just to have some inoffensive background noise while looking at other people’s experiences of losing cats online. This might seem a bit depressing, but I find some comfort in the fact that we’re not alone in suffering such a loss, and that others have felt the same way and gone on to recover again.

There was still some of his blood on the road where he died which I could see from our house windows and today I took out a bucket of soapy water and a brush to wash it away. It felt disrespectful to leave it there even though rain would wash it away before long. It’s Stan’s blood and I couldn’t bear the thought of it being there to be gawped at or run over by other cars.

I know that the grief will pass in time, as it has before, but the suddenness of his passing and his young age make this feel especially tragic. It’s at times like this that I sometimes wish I was a more spiritual person, I’m not really a believer in an afterlife, but I dearly hope that I am wrong on this and that one day I can be reunited with all my lost loved ones.

Love you Stan x

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Goodbye Stan

Yesterday evening our lovely little cat, Stan, was hit by a car and killed. We are bereft.

I miss him so much and feel guilty at his loss. People who read this blog may know that he was hit by a car once before, a few months ago, but happily made a full recovery. Following that, we decided that we would keep him indoors at nighttime as, given he was dark furred, and that is the time when people seem to drive faster on the road that passes out house, that he would be safer if he only went out during the daytime. We would make sure that he couldn’t get out in the evenings but, as the days have shortened into autumn, he would still go out for a short while during darkness but would then come straight in when we shouted his name or, more often, by himself.

Yesterday evening I last saw him asleep on top of a box in my office and thought he was safely indoors. Unknown to me he must have come downstairs not long afterwards and gone outside before we closed up his catflap. A short while after that we heard a knock at the door and found a lady looking very upset, asking if we had a small black cat called Stan. When I said yes she told us that he’s been struck by a car and had died. My wife and I ran out to him and it was awful to find him just laid on the grass verge beside the road. I think I thanked the lady for letting us know but, to be honest, it’s all a bit of a blur. My wife was distraught and I think I was in shock.

We wrapped him in a towel, carried him back home and my wife, our two sons who still live with us, and I said our goodbyes. After that we placed him into a box and put him in the garage overnight where it is cool. I felt so bad doing this and had a paranoid idea that perhaps he was just unconcious and that we’d abandoned him – so much so that I had to go back in the garage and check later to make sure and put my mind at rest.

This morning we took his body to the vets. I didn’t like doing this, but if felt better to be doing something than leaving him in the cold garage all weekend – that felt undignified and not what I wanted for him. On Monday morning we will need to contact the pet crematorium for them to collect his little body for cremation before we can have his casket of ashes returned to us. Stan is the sixth cat we’ve had the privilege of having be part of our family over the past thirty years but the first we’ve lost suddenly like this (and also the youngest). He will sit at rest beside his brothers.

I think Stan might be the last cat we have, at least while we live in this house. The thought of putting another at risk, and the worry we would have every time they went outside, is not something I think we could bear. His loss, and the thought he might be the last cat we have for some time is terribly sad, and hard to think about. Time heals though and I need to concentrate on the joy he brought us. All cats are individuals and Stan was no exception. He was the only cat we’ve had who’s method of getting attention was to gently nip and scratch my ankles and lower legs. This could be very annoying and sometimes painful, but I would rarely get cross with him – it was just the way he knew how to get things done. I have a number of small scars on my legs as a result of his attentions and I am now so grateful for them – I’ll carry his marks for the rest of my life – but I wish he were still here to scratch me afresh.

I miss you so much Stan. I don’t know how this universe works, but I hope we might be together again one day. Love you always little man.

Photography · Uncategorized

Aaaarrrgh!

For some reason today, a large number of my embedded Flickr photos have stopped showing as images and just show a link instead. It’s not all of them, so I’ve no idea what is causing this, but it’s infuriating. I don’t know if it’s WordPress or Flickr to blame. It’s not just my browser or PC either – the same thing shows when viewed from another device too.

Normal service will hopefully resume shortly.

😦