I remember my first encounter with Stephanie as if it were yesterday. The details will be forever burned into my psyche. I had always been a prisoner, in fact, I was born into captivity. The warden held me at my first breath and I immediately loved her. I was not always the world dominating mastermind that I am currently and the hatred that I had for others came on like a slow burn.
I had an excellent childhood. I played with my brothers and sisters and my mother and father were loving and caring. They did a good job raising me; Simbicile is my father and sadly my mother passed away after childbirth she was called Salem and she was as black as the night sky when there are no stars hanging in it.
The prison had always been my home and my favourite place to perch was on the back of the sofa so that I could watch the world through the glass barrier. I saw many things over the years and made many friends. One particular summer evening was akin to a Shakespearean sonnet; the wind blew softly and the sweet smell of cherry blossoms hung in the air like a thick veil, the sun was setting and it filled the skyline with shades of orange, pink and light purple…then I saw her.
The warden usually left the large prison gate open but a smaller gate still stood between me and the outside world. The smaller gate held a sort of mesh material that I could see and smell through. I hurried down from my perch and raced to the small gate. The magnificent feline approached the gate and shoved her pink, button nose to the screen. I touched my nose with hers and wished that there had been no barrier. She sat and spoke with me for hours about many things; we talked of life and of love over the next few months and it filled my heart with joy. I could hardly stand the time in between our encounters and missed her sorely each waking moment that I was alone. One summer night I worked up the courage to ask her to be mine. I groomed my suit to perfection, gathered a flower from the dining room table and waited.
That night Stephanie never came to the prison gate. I had wasted an entire night waiting for her; I returned to my perch worried for her safety and my mind went to the most terrible place of What If? As I fretted with worry I saw something in the distance; it was Stephanie!..but she was not alone. I narrowed my eyes and tried to get a better view; there she was in all of her glory, and she was holding hands with Sylvester the common gypsy! At that moment my heart shattered into a million sharp pieces and I swore that never again, would I ever love something. The tale of Sylvester is for another day because I cannot bear to tell it now.
I recently read an article that said some companies in the United States are offering Pet Bereavement days. I wholeheartedly support this movement and anyone who has ever had to say goodbye to a pet knows that it’s like losing a member of your family. A Canadian therapist agrees, she says, “In many cases, an employee can’t perform their best after the loss of a pet. They’re not focused. They’re just not fully there and need the time to grieve in order to be their best self again.” This was me.
We had a tabby cat named Scout who was the spitting image of his dad, Simba. He was born with intussusception, this is when part of the intestine telescopes inside of another one. He had multiple vet visits and was on special prescription food. In one year he must have visited the vet 30 times and that is not an exaggeration.We watched him like a hawk and I knew all of the symptoms of his illness. After a successful surgery and a little while of being symptom free, he suffered a set back, the intussusception returned. One summer morning after spending the night on the floor with Scout, I called my sister at 7 am, he wasn’t eating and seemed like he was sick again. She told me to meet her at the clinic. I assured myself that all he needed was his electrolytes back in order like the last time and that he would be fine. That was not the case…he was dying. I sat on the floor of the clinic in the back room and held him while I cried like a baby. He died in my arms and a part of my heart went with him. He was euthanized because there was NOTHING else we could do for him, the vet said that if we tried another surgery he wouldn’t make it through the anaesthetic. I didn’t want him to suffer and he had been through so much already. This was the hardest thing I had ever done. It was like losing a family member. We had been through SO much together and there were times where I would be up all night checking on him, or sleeping next to him on the floor, silently praying that he would be ok.
Even as I sit here and write this I start to cry. I miss him like crazy still every single day. He was my boy, my friend, my youngest of the litter. He was a fighter, a trooper and one hell of a tough little guy. I was so devastated after his death that I took 3 days off of work…I really appreciate my boss understanding my grief because essentially, everyone in the office went through it with me. They held their breath when the vet called after Scout’s first surgery, they supported me when I came in a bit late because I had to drop him off before work at the vet, they were there through the hardest of times and were totally supportive. So YES! I agree 100% with companies offering pet bereavement days…it was like a part of me was gone and there was no way that I could’ve functioned at all. I could barely get out of bed as it was my heart was so broken.
Scout now rests in peace on our mantle in the living room where we spend most of our time. We have his photo on the wall with him and his brother Sebastien and his dad Simba watching over him. He still holds a very special place in our hearts and will remain there always.