Saying Goodbye

How do you say goodbye to someone that has been there for you for 13 years?  How do you let them go, peacefully, and still let them know that you are there no matter what?  That you will never forget all of those years, all of those times spent together.  About an hour ago in the middle of an #RSCON3 presentation, my cat Bailey fell over and started crying.  She has been sick her whole life, I picked the runt of the litter, the one that farted and sneezed when I picked her up.  And yet, I knew that this time it was more than.  This time something was seriously wrong.  And the vet agreed, there was no coming back from this one and so the decision was made and she drifted off peacefully, more at peace than I have seen her in months, off to a better place.

And so I sit here in an empty house picking up the pieces.  Picking up our memories and remembering them for what they were; unforgettable and ours.  Bailey picked me as much as I picked her and she loved life.  She would purr and wiggle in urging you to pet her, give her attention, until her belly was raw from all of the stroking.  If you tried to sleep on the couch you knew she would be right there, cuddled up by your ear, not willing to move even when you had to get up.  Naps simply were another excuse for her to be close to us because that is where she felt she belonged.  And I agreed.   For many years she would sleep right on my head and all night I would battle with her over the pillow.  I would listen to her snore and wheeze due to the chronic respiratory infection she had gotten from her mother.  And yet having her right there, sometimes right on my head, meant a certain comfort, of being home and being with someone, even if Brandon was out of town and the house was too quiet.

I found Bailey 6 months into me moving from Denmark to America.   Practically alone, unless you count the one boyfriend I had, until I found her.  She was 9 months old when I stumbled upon her, already having been rejected by one family as being too mean and too sick.  For me it just felt right.  Her and I could do anything together.  Through breaks ups, lonely night and finally finding my soulmate she was there, always ready to cuddle, always ready to be together, running to the door whenever I came home.   When I moved she came with me every time, always finding peace as long as I was there.  Her illness would go through cycles and we thought we would lose her more than once.  But she always pulled through.  The joke in my family was that she would outlive us all.  When she was 7 she was viciously attacked by a stray dog and we thought at first that this was it.  She proved us all wrong.  And when the doctor said that her back leg would have to get amputated, she proved us wrong again, regaining the use of it within a couple of months.  Through all the years of trying to have a child, she was there when I needed her.  With every failed atte,pt and all of those tears, she sat patently on my lap reminding me that she was there and she understood that it was sad but that life would move on as it always did.  When we found out Thea was coming and my belly grew, Bailey would climb on top of it, having found a new place to snuggle up to – even if it kicked her at times.  She just knew when I needed her to just curl and be.

So I write this post as a tribute.  Some may think I am a crazy cat lady and that is alright.  For this crazy cat, I am.  In an hour I present at the Reform Symposium, and Matt, my co-presenter, always the gentleman, graciously told me that he could handle it all.  I declined, I will be there because that is what we do as teachers.  We pull through and we get the job done.  No matter what is happening in our personal life our jobs move us on and the demands continue.  We know that what we are committed to is important and we don’t back away from that commitment.

I am not sure why I write this post but I had to.  I had to say thank you to the tiniest little cat who always just was.  We found each other when we both wanted so desperately to be loved.  Thank you for loving me so unconditionally and teaching me that quiet time can be the best time of the day.  Thank you for just being there.  For putting your faith in us to treat you right, for naps, and car rides, and all those moments where you jumped up on my lap reminding me that life is about love and showing those that love you that they mean the world to you.  The house is too quiet without you.

18 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye”

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. Some people don't understand that animals can be like children to us, but they can. The loss of one is devastating and my prayers are with your family. Remember the good times with smiles and know that she is now free from illness.

  2. Pernille,I think this is a beautiful tribute written at a time when your emotions are so powerfully raw and in a way that I can so easily relate. Your eloquence is touching. I just have to say that hardly anyone in our presentation knew what was going on, and you were on point the whole time. It made me even prouder to consider you a colleague, mentor, and friend.

  3. Pernille,I'm so sorry for your loss of Bailey. What a hard time for you and your family. You were a trooper though,you pulled yourself together and presented confidently at #RSCON3. You did a wonderful job. Thank you!!

  4. Pernille, Looking at my two little furballs and I can understand exactly how you must feel. I am sorry for your loss. The touching words you posted will resonate forever for her…

  5. A beautiful tribute to a much loved pet. Pets entwine themselves into our hearts and it hurts when they leave us. Thank you very much for sharing your words with others. Mrs S

  6. I think we never really know the power that any relationship can have as an impact on our lives. Reading your post touched me to my very soul, and as tears stream down my face, I want only tell you that I understand. It's funny isn't it, to know that we can share this moment and offer sympathy, positive thoughts, or even a shoulder to cry on so many miles away. That is the power of technology and collaboration that we want all learners to know.Take care my friend and know how much you sharing has meant to all of us.

  7. I've very sorry to hear about Bailey's passing, but very happy to hear what she meant to you! I have an 11-year-old puppy, Rocco, who has been an absolute love of my life. He was diagnosed with Diabetes last year and I worried that that was it. He thankfully has taken to the insulin shots, twice a day, like a trouper. In short, I know how you feel and hope that your heart mends swiftly.

  8. I sit here with a very sad heart for you. I look down the hallway at my cat, Mac, and realize I need to go love on him a bit….in honor of Bailey. 8 years ago, I would have not understood this post… I do.I am sad for your loss….and wish I could reach through this monitor and give you a hug.From one crazy cat lady to another — I understand and am holding you close in thought today.Baily was lucky to have found you, you both made each others lives a better place.Jennifer

  9. Thank you everyone for all of your support. You feel crazy when you go through the grieving process over something as little as cat and yet people understand. Today we will give her a proper goodbye and rejoice in all of the years we had. My daughter walks around asking where the kitty is and I am reminded of her love for her as well. That is what life is about; loving.

  10. Pernille, I came to this blog because of the Reform Symposium. The first post I read was this one. Thank you for sharing this with us. I'm a crazy dog person, but I couldn't agree with you more about how special relationships with our pets can be. Through thick and thin, they are there, with their unconditional love and support. My heart goes out to you at this difficult time and believe me, things will get easier with time.

  11. Thank You for posting about the love for your cat. I have also lost a dog recently and am in fear of loosing another in the close future. These pets are not just animals they are close family. Some pets are much closer and actully show us more love than our families do. It is easier to deal with however when others show their love for their pets and closest friends with you.

  12. Pernille,I saw this earlier today from my iPad and was not able to comment. Thanks for sharing as I know it is tough to do. When I last my dog last year, one person said to me, "Animals spend their entire life being there when you need them, so when they need it from you, you have to be there for them." I am sorry for your loss and hope you know that the live you had saving your cat will soon be amazing to reflect upon.Take care,George

  13. Pernille. First I am so sorry. We lost our dog in February and I still struggle and miss him every day. You are a crazy cat lady and you should be proud of this. We are crazy about our pets for what they bring tonournlives and the memories they share with us.From one pet lover to another… Thinking of your loss and hoping that each day, the great memories replace begin to replacenthe hole thatbis in your heart. Chris

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