For Bandit

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Dear Bandit,

Thank you for letting me be your crazy cat lady. It’s because of this that I now have hundreds of pictures to look at when I miss you. Right now, I feel as though my heart has been ripped out of my chest, but I think it physically happening could not hurt as much as this does. My heart feels empty and my gut full of sorrow. I keep expecting to see your head pop up from the bed when I walk in the room or peep around the corner when you sneak out from the basement.

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When we first got you those fourteen years ago, I was a skeptical cat owner. I didn’t want a pet or the grief that ultimately came with losing it. I had just lost two grandparents and the pain was fresh and I wondered why we had to bring that risk into our lives again. Though you were never one to shy away from a bite or a raised paw, you purred your way into our hearts with your snuggles and soft fur and strange antics. Now that I’ve lost you, and I cannot fathom that I am typing these words or writing this post, I know that all of this pain I feel now was worth even just a second of our time with you.

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Mortality suppresses itself behind the routine of everyday living before unveiling itself under the worst of circumstances, grief, the most blinding and genuine emotion one can feel. You were our everyday, our routine, one of us, and that’s why it hurts so much now. You no longer come down from a long day’s nap to swat us out of our seats and watch TV with us. You don’t bound up the stairs for bedtime in order to secure your spot or down the stairs to greet us when we walk through the door to come home. Home does not feel as safe and as warm and as happy without you.

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In the mornings when I’m still lying in bed, I still wait for the meow of protest willing me out of bed and to pat you, or the crunching of friskies as you grab a snack before returning to your nap. I want to shine your mouse laser at the wall and see you jump, swing a string above your head and laugh when you pretend not to care then jump for it like you can’t help yourself. I want to sit on the couch with you as you look out the window or lie with you at my feet as I go to bed at night. I just want you back.

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In time, we will find solace in our fourteen years of memories. I may be able to look at these pictures, reminisce about your life, and say your name without bursting into tears. Sunday was the hardest day of my life because I had to do one of the hardest things I ever will. I know it was best for you, ultimately, because we didn’t want you to suffer. But holding you in my arms and whispering how much I loved you as you went peacefully from this world will haunt me as much as comfort me in your memory. Coming home without you was like never coming home at all.

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We die hundreds of deaths every time someone we love passes away, friend, family, pet, or all. I did what I needed to, for you, because for me, you were my sound board and my comfort, my softness in a hard world, and I will never forget that. I felt safe and loved when I could press my forehead against yours and you wouldn’t even bite me in disgust.

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All of these words are not enough to convey how much I love you, how much I miss you, and how grateful I am to have had you. There is a hole in my heart and an empty space in my bed. I hope there is a laundry basket filled with warm blankets and freshly laundered clothes waiting for you.

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Sweet Bandit, goodbye for now.

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Love,

Your Family

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