My Final Respects to Oscar

If you’ve never been a pet owner you might not completely understand the deep unconditional love we attach to our beloved pets.  Maybe you have experience of what a pet can mean when we are living with mental illness, especially if you live alone, as I do.

I watched my two cats being born fourteen years ago.  There were only two in the litter.  ‘Mother-Elsie’ was a stray I took pity on, one cold winter’s night.  She was the first cat I had ever known.

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My world was very different back then.  I had a good job that I loved.  Life was busy and comfortable.  There was no awareness of mental illness, as I know it now.  In many ways, a stray cat with two kittens was not really on the agenda, but something felt right, even though it cost me a small fortune.

It can be amazing to think of how certain situations can occur in our lives that prepare us, or maybe give us the tools, to get through that next leg of our journey.   I could never have guessed what was waiting just around the corner.

I have had my fair share of heartache and trauma.  It would be impossible for me to begin writing about it here. You could say that I have always been at odds with the world.  Through all the confusion and unhappiness, no matter what life threw at me, I always possessed an ability to bounce back.  It never occurred to me that one day I might wear the spring out.

One day in 2000, when my adorable kittens were only 6 weeks old, a horrific experience from the past came back to haunt me. It hit me like a bolt of lightning; quite literally blew me off my feet.  I seemed to experience a delayed PTSD response and my very first mental breakdown ensued.  I tried so hard, but could not bounce back.  Life would never be the same.

It was utter madness.  I will never forget some of the spine chilling psychotic episodes, the hallucinations, a constant babble of voices and the disturbing noises that will stay with me forever.  There were also a couple of suicide attempts.  When I woke next morning, I remember weeping because I was still alive.  The one thing that always made me smile were the antics of the little fluffy kittens.

I cut off contact from friends, family, and work colleagues.  Clearing my flat of everything from the past, I disconnected phones, unplugged the doorbell, and even sealed-up the letterbox.  The only time I left home was to do the monthly shopping.  Weeks turned into months and then years.

Family were the easiest to lose contact with.  At first, they tried phoning but quickly took offence when I didn’t answer.  Our entire relationship was always dependent on me doing all the running.  Of course, they tried reaching out, but then tired easily when I did not respond.  Who could blame them?  I certainly didn’t and was only too glad to have them out of my life.

All I wanted to do was sleep or die.  There were days when I barely left my bed, only to spend time playing and feeding the kittens. I named them Missy & Oscar.  They were animals, but became my only contact with any kind of life form.  At least their love was unconditional and safe.  I like to think they kept me alive.

I’ve travelled a tough road over those fourteen years.  More often than not, I was not even aware of being on any kind of healing journey.  Some weeks I was barely surviving.  I can honestly say that my two beautiful cats helped me through some of the deepest and darkest hours.  I know that sounds crazy, but hey, welcome to my life!

Since 2000, I have been battling with my mental health – PTSD, Recurrent Depressive Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder   Up until twelve months ago, I barely left home in thirteen years.  Bizarrely, I didn’t even recognise anything was wrong – I was sane, everyone else was crazy-crackers.

Missy was always an outdoor cat. Oscar was entirely different.  He was timid and preferred to be constantly by my side.  Everywhere I went, he would follow like a loyal dog.  He was one of my closest friends.  In the darkest moments of despair, he would nuzzle my head and ears, while pawing me out of trance like states.

The memories of last Friday, the 22nd November 2013 are tattooed on my mind forever.  It was the toughest decision I have ever had to make.  As I stood with the Vet in surgery, it quickly became apparent that we had hit a brick wall.  I didn’t expect this, we were meant to be going home together.  It was the last kindest act I could do for my dear friend.  As I nuzzled my little Oscar’s head and ears, he slipped away peacefully.  It was difficult to comprehend that fourteen years have passed between us.  Life would never be the same.

It is heart breaking, but if I’ve learned anything in recent months, it’s that sometimes we need to be prepared to walk through the darkness.  Recently, I have been reading and blogging a lot about living in the present moment.  For me, it holds the key to controlling the worst of the Borderline emotions.  Unfortunately, sometimes living in the moment is not all about flowers and fluffy clouds; often it involves embracing our pain and heartache.

From birth to death, I will cherish my memories with Oscar forever.  Goodbye my “baby boy”.

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63 thoughts on “My Final Respects to Oscar

  1. Susan Irene Fox

    Oh, Cat, I’m so sorry. It’s so difficult to let go of a cherished family member. I know; I’ve done it. My heart aches for you today. It’s good that you and Missy have each other. I think she knows. I think that was the sound of grieving. Be extra kind to her today. My prayers are with you.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Susan. Missy is quite taken by the extra love and affection. She is a little on the quiet side, but I think she’ll be okay.

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  2. Shaz Goldie

    Oh Cat, I am so sorry yo hear about Oscar. He had such a lovely life with you. He was lucky to hsve you as his human dad. My thoughts are with you. X

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  3. sensuousamberville

    The bond with a pet is magical. We know that last day will one day arrive, and it is beyond hard when it does. It truly rips us up. We must though, as they do so much for them to do this last thing for them, with love. The memories are grand, smiles escape when we remember something our goofy pet did. I feel for you today and my eyes are leaking. *hugs lots*

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  4. findingmyinnercourage

    Cats leave paw prints on our hearts and forever change our lives. Sharing in the sadness of your loss. “What a greater gift than the love of a cat?” ~ Charles Dickens

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  5. kat

    im soo soo sorry for your loss. my Sunshine died recently as well. it’s been 3 months, and i think i have ‘gotten over’ it, but then something will happen or a word said, and i’m suddenly expecting to see her there, but alas she is not. (i have a post about her passing…)

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  6. DissociativeBonny

    I am so sorry you had to let go of your fur baby. I know how much our pets are cherished. It is clear that Oscar has had a good life, and i am glad you have many years of memories of his personality and special ways.
    I heard this poem a while ago, and i wanted to share it with you in your time of grief.

    Lend Me A Kitten.

    I will lend to you for awhile a kitten, God said.
    For you to love while he lives, and mourn when he’s dead.
    Maybe for twelve or fourteen years, or maybe two or three.
    But will you, ’till I call him back, take care of him for me?

    He’ll bring his charms to gladden you and, should his stay be brief
    You’ll always have his memories as solace for your grief.
    I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return.
    But there are lessons taught below I want this kitten to learn.

    I’ve looked the whole world over in search of teachers true.
    And from the folk that crowds life’s land I have chosen you.
    Now will you give him all your love, nor think the labor vain?
    Nor hate me when I come to take my kitten home again?

    I fancied that I heard them say ‘Dear Lord Thy Will Be Done’
    For all the joys this kitten brings the risk of grief we’ll run.
    We’ll shelter him with tenderness, we’ll love him while we may.
    And for the happiness we’ve known, forever grateful stay.

    But should you call him back much sooner than we planned,
    We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes, and try to understand.
    If, by our love we’ve managed your wishes to achieve,
    Then in memory of him whom we loved, please help us while we grieve.
    When our cherished kitten departs this world of strife,
    Please send yet another needing soul for us to love all his life.

    Keep well, we are here to listen.
    Bonny

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    1. Cat Post author

      Awe Bonny, such a lovely poem. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it with me. It is such a comfort to know people understand. This is the first time I have ever lost a pet, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Thanks for your support

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  7. survivor55

    I’m so sorry for Oscar passing out of your life!! I know how much it hurts. I firmly believe in a pet heaven and I know my Max is in doggie heaven. Therefore I also believe your Oscar is in cat heaven — or maybe they all share the same heaven since there wouldn’t be any rivalries between the different animals. I know God loves animals — He created them. Anyone who has ever seen a puppy or kitten or any other young animal knows what a marvelous sense of humor God has to have created these wonderful gifts for us to enjoy, love, be unconditionally loved and often be amazed by these beautiful animals who become our family. I have the firm belief that not only is my Max in doggie heaven, but also that I will be allowed to see him again one day. Even though animals don’t have a spirit as humans do, they most assuredly have a soul (mind, will and emotions.) Just as our souls and spirits never die, I believe the souls of animals don’t die either.

    May God comfort you during this time of grief, pain and loss!!
    — Kathy

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  8. shoe1000

    I am not sad. I am glad you got the time with Oscar that you did.
    My best friend to this day was a 1/2 German Shepherd, 1/2 wolf whose name was Baron
    Yes I cried when he left, but he gave me love and for that I am always grateful Ggod gave me Baron

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  9. N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ

    With tears in my eyes, I want to say how moved I was by this post, What a beautiful tribute to Oscar. Just beautiful. Cat, I’m so sorry for your loss. He was there for you when you needed him the most, and you were there for him. *hug*

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  10. Athena Brady

    Hi cat, so sorry to hear about your beloved Oscar. It does not surprise me that Missy is grieving his loss at all. Animals are just like us, my daughter told me that when I moved to Wales our cat which she looked after as it was her cat and she kept my house. Cried outside my bedroom door for 3 Weeks and when I rang her I would talk to the cat Shadow, on the phone and he would purr and rub against the phone. I am sure Oscar is still around you looking out for you and Missy.

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  11. RisingSong

    My heart breaks for your loss today, Cat. At the same time, I am gad that you had Oscar during a time when you truly needed him. It is true that we are given people, situations and even animals in our lives during the time when we need them the most, and then they are gone. I have had this happen, and it almost feels like they were angels sent to us.

    Your post is a beautiful and elegant form of grief. I hope our support will help to ease your pain.

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  12. Gel

    Oh Cat I feel for you in this loss. It is heart warming to hear of all the many years of companionship and love you shared with Oscar. He had a really good life and he was very lucky to live it with you.

    I too have a deep deep connection and bond with our cat so I can understand what a big event this is for you. Do you think writing about it here helps with a little of that letting go process? I’ve been grieving over the loss of my chickens the last few days and instead of breezing over it I’ve been letting myself feel it and talk about it. It seems like a better way to go.

    Thanks for sharing about this. Some part of Oscar lives on in your heart.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Gel. Yes, writing has helped as part of that process. This is my first pet to die, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I have been processing everything by doing a lot of cleaning, washing bedding, etc. I’m also having the living room decorated this week, so I am busy. It doesn’t stop me having a good old weep in mid flow, but I guess that is all part of the process. I have only told two people plus the blogging community. I feel so comforted and supported. It makes a huge difference knowing people understand.
      Thank you, Gel

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  13. littlevoicetalks

    Heart-breaking. Our animals are precious and life is so enriched with them in it. I marvel at my Poppy-cat. That we understand each other even though we speak a different language and are a different species. They are unique and unassuming. You and Missy are in my thoughts, it’s so sad. RIP Oscar. x

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  14. brokenbutbeingrepaired

    Really am sorry to read this, Cat. The post is a beautiful tribute to the unconditional love oscar had for you, which was reflected.

    Thinking of you.
    x

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  15. releasing lunacy

    Cat,

    I’m so very sorry. I’ve been a bit wrapped up in my own life. I wish I’d seen this sooner. I’m in tears knowing how difficult this situation is for you. But, what a blessing for little Missy and Oscar. Instead of life as stray cats, they were born into a loving home. You all saved one another.

    The first week is the most difficult. Everything reminds you of your lost loved one. Bentley and I were confused when we lost Pep. You know something is missing. I hope little Missy is able to find understanding in her own way. *sending her lots of cuddles*

    I wish I could say something to make you feel better. But, this is a pain we just feel. Nothing will take it away. Oscar is safe and happy and well now. I personally believe animals have spirits and we’ll see them again.

    Sending lots of hugs, love and care!
    rl

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    1. Cat Post author

      I know you have had your own loss recently. Thank you for your kind words of support. Missy is lapping up the extra love and attention. I’m afraid Jack looks rather pleased! There always seemed to be an underlying tension between the two boys, even though they were different species. A lot of my house work got on top of me, so I’m keeping busy with cleaning etc.

      It helps to feel other people’s understanding and support. Thank you

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  16. ziggy40

    I have tears of sorrow, as I lost my 12 year old dog, without warning , 12 and 1/2 years ago. Six months later, I was given a puppy, who is now my older dog. I love your ‘mindful, that it’s the final last gift we can give our pets.’ Someone at the time reminded me of how close we were and the pain was a understanding of all that as humans , we can get that unconditional love from our human, ‘best mates.’ I believe that his spirit will stay in your heart , where ever you go. Sending gentle safe hug, compassion and kindness to you and ‘Missy’,I wish I had something comforting to say…just know you are in my prayers at this really painful time.
    love Ziggy

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  17. myspokenheart

    So sorry Cat, I somehow missed this post over the weekend. I know it hurts, it will for a while. Truth is loss is loss, and grief is grief and it doesn’t matter who you lost or how you lost them.
    Love to you my friend *Sqeeze*, Andrea

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  18. ziggy40

    Dear Cat,
    I’m so sorry for your loss.I lost my best friend, a dog, it’s been ten years, i have another dog now, when he turned 10, I got a puppy. I do remember the heart pain, the tears, the grief still to this day. A small thing that was of help at the time, and even some days, years later…was he was needed somewhere else…I still treasure deep inside the years I believe this dog , literally kept me alive. I wish to send some soothing thoughts and vibes…in this pain. You are in my thoughts and prayers..lol
    Love Ziggy

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  19. Cheryl-Lynn

    How beautifully written, Cat! I am sure this is also healing for any reader who has experienced grief. It makes me want to do an homage for my pets especially my dog who was with me through happy times, dark times and even my divorce. she touched every one in my immediate family…what an important role she played. I may write more in my other blog under a pen name in order to truly share all she was to me. Thank you for being you, Cat! As you are growing through a difficult recovery you are generous enough to share and know that this is a gift you give to so many. Blessings, Cheryl-Lynn

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    1. Cat Post author

      Many thanks Cheryl-Lynn, that is very sweet of you to say. I actually used that post as my final writing piece at a therapy writing group. It will be published in next years Recovery Book. Oh, I’ve just noticed, thank you so much for the reblog!

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  20. scottishmomus

    I’m sorry for your loss. But something else strikes me here. A life sentence is often viewed as fourteen years with remission. Oscar has been there for you during your imprisonment. He did his job. Now you seem to be going out and re-entering the world and life. No coincidences in whys and hows. Just gratitude for what we have had in love and what helps us on our journey. A precious gift for both of you. And one that may keep on giving. Be well. Blessings. And hugs. x

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    1. Cat Post author

      You have no idea just how spot on your words are in my current train of thought. Thank you for taking the time to comment. This kind of support from fellow bloggers has been invaluable to this part of my recovering journey.

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