More Grief, Where Will I Put It?

Anya, my dog, and I were out for our daily afternoon walk in the hills of our neighborhood. We usually take the same route as she likes the routine and often leads the way. As we walked by one of the houses set higher on the hill, we saw the ivy beneath the house move and heard a noise like something was hiding in the foliage. Rats are attracted to ivy and often live within so I didn’t think much of it other than the movement seemed bigger than that of a rodent. Anya and I kept walking.

A block away I saw one of my neighbors. She was very distraught. She said “did you see a black and white cat? He’s a house cat, eleven years old, and has never been out in the world on his own.” I said “No, but I saw and heard movement in the ivy of the front yard of a house around the corner. I remember exactly where it was. Let’s walk down there.”

This is the same neighbor that a week earlier got a cancer diagnosis on her beloved thirteen year old dog, Norman. She decided to make Norman as comfortable as possible with medication, but no cancer treatments. As we walked she had tears in her eyes and told me that the bad news of Norman and now the possibility of losing her cat were devastating.

We got to the house and she called for her cat in the voice she always uses when looking for him. All was quiet. We walked back up the hill and I said good-bye and promised to keep an eye out for the cat. My neighbor said if she didn’t find him by nightfall she never will as we live in coyote territory.

While walking home I thought that cat would never come out with me and my dog standing there. After getting home and getting Anya settled with her dinner I decided to walk back to the place where I heard and saw something moving in the foliage. If I was alone maybe the cat would come out. Before leaving the house I heard the ping of a new email coming through on my phone. I opened the email and it was from my neighbor. She went back, alone, to the exact spot I showed her and called and called for the cat. This sweet boy came running down the hill and jumped into his mother’s arms. She was emailing to thank me.

I called her and through her tears she said “there would have been no place to put any more grief if I lost my cat.”

Her dog, Norman, is terminally ill, and even though we are not in the middle of a hurricane, wildfire, or among the concert goers in Las Vegas dealing with lost loved ones and trauma, we are all grieving for those that are. A personal loss just adds to the grief we all carry.

Where do we put it? How do we make room for it?

Be for each other. We’re all in this together. When we help each other, we’re never alone.

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