Monday, July 28, 2014

The saddest month so far

Two angels

There's a reason I've been so quiet for the past month and a half. It turns out there are things that are simply too sad to share - in the short term, at least. Dealing with Laura's death was hard enough, but it was closely followed by two more goodbyes.

First, my beautiful mother-in-law passed away at the end of June after a tough battle with cancer. Then, our dear old cat, Ranee (aka Her Majesty), became so ill that we had to put her to sleep just a few days later. (The photo above is of the two of them, taken in April when June last visited us.)

My heart is aching and I dissolve into tears at least once a day wondering how I will get along without them. Laura, my new friend, with whom I shared so much. June, the best mother-in-law a woman could ask for - kind, patient, encouraging, forgiving.  Ranee, a gentle presence who accompanied and comforted me through so many difficult days. My life was immeasurably better with them in it.

June was a woman of faith and conviction. She loved unconditionally, gave freely, and pursued her passions. She was a woman who told you what she thought and made no bones about it. When Husband and I announced our plans to marry, her response was to lean back in her chair and say firmly, "Oh, Janice, love him, live with him, but don't marry him!" I didn't take her advice, of course, but I always appreciated the fact that she cared enough to warn me.

And, as it turned out, she needn't have worried. As unreliable as Husband may have been in his youth, he'd already learned the secrets of a long and happy marriage from his parents - patience, forgiveness, humour, and devotion. Two weeks before her death, June and her husband celebrated 65 joyful years of marriage. Sixty-five years - a lifetime of love.

When June fell into unconsciousness, I flew home to work and see to our cats and Husband remained in Ottawa. Soon after I arrived back, I noticed Her Majesty was picking at her food and sleeping more than usual. The Thursday evening, when June died, she followed me to bed and lay on my chest purring and licking the tears from my face but, by the weekend, it was clear she was really ill - though she was still purring and following me around the house as usual. By Sunday, she wasn't eating so I called the vet and arranged to take her in.

The diagnosis, when it came, wasn't unexpected. We'd known her kidneys were failing slowly for years. Blood tests revealed they'd stopped working altogether and there was nothing more the vet could do to make her more comfortable.

More than anything, I wanted to take her home for a few days so that Husband could be there to say goodbye but June's funeral was still five days away and it would have been selfish to let Ranee suffer so long so I made the decision to euthanize her immediately, then held her and talked to her quietly while the deed was done. She died peacefully in my arms, for which I'll always be grateful. When I brought her home, I spent a little more time holding her and saying goodbye, brushed her fur carefully, then wrapped her in one of my running shirts for burial.

It's not surprising that it was so hard to say goodbye to my little friend after nearly 17 years together. She wasn't "just" a cat. She was my confidante and companion, my comfort in hard times, a constant, loving presence. I miss the way she greeted me in the morning then snuggled into my lap to be petted while I sipped my coffee, her determination to interfere with my effort to make the bed, her quiet purr as she lay with her head on my shoulder at bedtime, her habit of following me around the house, and most of all her reassuring company when I awaken in the night and can't get back to sleep. I know for sure that I'll carry her in my heart and mind forever.

Since returning from June's funeral in Ottawa, life's been a joyous blur of travel, friends, family and work but I feel as if I'm in the final stages of a marathon with two more busy weeks ahead. By mid-August, I hope to have more time for running, writing and quiet reflection so that I can begin to come to terms with all the loss and get back to a more normal routine.

In any case, I'll do my best to start running and blogging more regularly soon. Thanks for sticking with me while I sort it all out.

Happy running and writing, friends.


  1. So sad that it happened all at once. We've had to put several cats to sleep, and it never gets easier. I still miss my big orange Sebastian cat and it's been 15 years. Take as long as you need to sort it all out. Long distance hugs...

  2. Thanks, Keith. And I'm so sorry to hear about Sebastian. I guess we're lucky to have such dear feline companions but I wish it didn't hurt so much to say goodbye to them.