Hairry’s Departure


Our sweet kitty, Hairry passed away a few days ago. He was the last living reminder of my previous life when I was married to my girls’ father before the airplane crash changed everything.

Laura was four years old and Marissa was just a baby when we decided to choose a kitty at the adoption fair. We picked Hairry, a young cat whose calm demeanor seemed like a good fit for our family.

But there were bumps along the road to him becoming a full-fledged family member. Hairry delighted in darting out to ambush Laura and bite her ankles, which sent her scrambling up onto the kitchen island, hopping up and down and screaming. So they didn’t immediately develop a close relationship, and we chose another young cat for Laura. Hairry became her little sister Marissa’s pet and he took his job seriously; her room and bed were his domain.

It seemed that Hairry considered himself Marissa’s cat even after she grew up and left home for her dream job. When she came home to visit, Hairry happily slept with her in her bed, purring his joy, and followed her around the house. When her visit ended, he would nap on her bed whenever I left the door to her room open, patiently awaiting her return.

Near the end of Laura’s cat’s life, we took him to the vet for the end, but it did not turn out to be as peaceful as we had wished for, so we decided that when the time came for Hairry we would let him pass away at home, if possible. It was only just a few weeks later when I could tell that it was near that time. Hairry would not eat, no matter what I tried to tempt him with and he sought out strange, small spaces in the house. I knew he wouldn’t be with us for long when I had to haul him out of the TV console where he’d hidden behind the cable box.

I was relieved when Hairry then went to lie on the cool tile in the hall bathroom corner where I could keep an eye on him. I managed to slide a fluffy towel under him, and he laid there for a couple of days. It was heart-wrenching to hear his occasional loud meows, and I would rush into the small bathroom to pet and comfort him, but he soon seemed to have slipped into a coma. When his shallow breathing finally stopped, it was difficult to accept that he was actually gone. I was so glad that my nephew Frankie was here visiting with his fiance Spencer, and it was good to have help — mentally as well as physically — in digging a grave in the backyard.

It took real determination to do the last thing that I could do for our sweet pet, a chore I never want to do. I wrapped Hairry in the fluffy towel with some yellow flowers and carried him out to the yard where we carefully tucked him into his grave. I was relieved to have that job behind me and was able to look forward to plans for the day with my family members.

Back in the house, Frankie, Spencer and I were talking about our plans for the day when we heard five distinctive meows. The mind can play tricks on us and for me, there was a split second that I thought, “Oh! Hairry is OK, I must have dreamed that bad thing that just happened,” before reality set in and I thought more practically that it must be a neighbor’s cat outside the kitchen window that I was hearing. I looked and did not see a cat, but when I turned back to Frankie, his expression was one of wide-eyed surprise.

He pointed to the Amazon Alexa unit and said, “It came through the Alexa! The blue light on top was on so I know it was the Alexa.” Spencer’s listened in disbelief and he asked Alexa to meow, which sounded entirely different than what we’d heard before. He shivered and said, “Let’s get out of here!” as he headed for the front door.

I like to think that Hairry found a way to tell me Good-bye and to let me know that he was OK. At least that’s how it is in Doris Land, i.e. in my mind. I’ve had dreams or heard things from those who have passed on before. I especially remember that after my first husband died in an airplane crash, he came to me in a dream to tell me how sorry he was that it had happened. We had a chance to talk and in a way were able to, if not say Good-bye, have a better parting than what it had been.

In Doris Land, it makes perfect sense that Hairry would find a way to let me know that he’s OK.

Later, Hairry!

Entertaining Grief or Thoughts at 3 a.m.

FullSizeRender (2)I woke up last night and couldn’t get back to sleep. Not unusual but this time it was different. I was sad and not sure why. I thought it might be my usual feeling of missing my kids since we now have an empty house, but then I reminded myself that they are all doing well on their own. I was excited about plans to see the youngest soon, so concern for kids wasn’t what was bothering me. I was puzzled for a few minutes as the tears went from my eyes down into my ears. It wasn’t until I just relaxed and listened to my heart that I figured it out. Could it be the date? Yup, that was it. The next day was May 26th.

On some days it seems like two weeks, and other days like thirty years ago, but in reality it was fourteen years since police officers showed up at my front door. They announced that my husband had been flying an airplane that crashed, and he didn’t survive.

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree,” Rose Kennedy said. “The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” Rose was a smart lady, and she knew what she was talking about, having buried several children and her husband.

Life goes on. I met and remarried an amazing man who didn’t feel threatened by my first husband, and tried hard to be a good step-dad. So I’m happy a lot of the time. But the heart remembers.

Since then, May has always been a tough month to get through. There is a cluster of kid’s birthdays, our wedding anniversary and my first husband’s birthday all together. It’s a mix of happy occasions with the reminder that he is missing. Last year was especially difficult since our youngest daughter turned eighteen, graduated high school early with honors, then left for another state in an exciting working student position. I was left stunned and missing her while she was busy and out on her own.

I learned to remember to try not to run from the sadness, and to let grief into my house like an annoying relative at a family gathering. The one who drinks too much and embarrasses everyone by telling dirty jokes. If ignored, grief gets worse. It turns into a mean, nasty dog that will sneak up behind you and bite you in the rear — you just can’t run from it for long. So, I’ve mentally turned around to whack that nasty dog on the nose with a rolled up newspaper several times, then had a good cry. I knew I would survive when the crying led to remembering good things and I smiled while drying the tears from my face, or more recently from my ears.

I guess the trick is to not be afraid to grieve and cry — whether it’s been fourteen years or fourteen hours, and to get some control of it. So if you are struggling, mentally turn around and whack that nasty, mean dog that is grief, firmly tell it to behave, then smile with a good memory.