I’m not much of a crier, never have been. I’ve had my moments, of course, most of them in my impetuous youth. Back then, it only took a few words to set me off, but I’ve mellowed and I tend to handle most things with calm. It can be a good thing, that is until the old emotions reach a breaking point.
Case in point, me the other night.
One of my relatives was away for a road trip when we learned from his neighbor that his dear old cat was in distress. For the sake of this post, I’ll call the cat Pixie. We’d been expecting it for a while. Pixie was deaf and blind and had been in a state of decline for some time but she remained a great little companion and was otherwise happy.
When we discovered her the other night, the poor dear was limp and her leg appeared struck by paralysis. I’m not a medical professional but even I could tell her body was shutting down. She was barely breathing. My husband and I rushed her to the emergency vet and, after consulting with our relative, made the painful decision to have Pixie put down. It was just her time.
She wasn’t even my cat but as I held her in that exam room, watching the vet give her the shot that would end her life, something in me broke. I began to sob uncontrollably and didn’t stop, even as my husband drove us home some time later.
You have to understand this is the third death in our family over the past year or so. We lost my mother-in-law a year ago, a blow that was followed by my husband’s grandfather’s passing a few short weeks ago. I realize Pixie was a cat but it was the third loss on the same side of the family and it set off a chain reaction in me that I couldn’t stop.
At the funerals of my MIL and husband’s grandfather, I managed to hold myself together even though no one would have faulted me for crying. There were some tears on my part, but for the most part, I remained stoic. I don’t know why because I certainly felt like bawling. And yet I didn’t, not until I held that little cat in my arms.
It was a good cry, a cathartic cry. Probably a really ugly cry, too. As I sobbed in the car, my husband trying to rub my shoulders as he drove, I think I finally released all the tears I couldn’t shed before. Boy, did they flow. Tears for my mother-in-law, tears for our grandfather, tears for all my deceased relatives and tears for sweet Pixie as well. I think I might have cried tears for random strangers and the state of world politics while I was at it.
You know what? I should have done it sooner. I shouldn’t have bottled up my despair. I don’t think I was trying to do so but perhaps some part of me was trying to be the brave one, the one on which others could rely. Perhaps I was trying to be strong for my kids. I don’t know. Maybe I should have allowed my family to see me dissolve. Maybe it wouldn’t have killed them. It might even have helped me in the long run.
I have to thank Pixie for reminding me to embrace my inner crybaby. I had no idea a tabby cat could teach me so much.