I woke up Wednesday morning at 3 am and began the countdown. Seven hours left, then six, then three, then one… Each hour I committed to be present for Rumpy. No nose stuck in a laptop or phone. No busy work.
I talked to him. I reminded him of the day we met. How after it became apparent that no one would claim him, Rumpy convinced me to let him move from the yard to inside the house. We talked about those who have gone before, and how he was so good with Lucky, DeDe and Sage. I thanked him for taking care of June Buggie and Bubba. I asked him why he chose to stay with me. I wondered what he’d say to me if he and I spoke the same language.
At the vet clinic I kept myself composed to make sure the transition went smoothly for him. As I walked out afterward, the reality hit me that from here on out, everything will be different.
My entire life has revolved around caring for the furry ones. My vehicle had to accommodate us all in an emergency. My home had to allow a dog considered by some to be a dangerous breed. Each morning began with a trip outside, no matter the weather. Making sure Rumpy didn’t get into the cats’ food before they’d eaten their fill. Cleaning and refilling his water bowl, then checking regularly to see if a cat has used it as a foot bath.
I came home and just kept walking around in circles. Rumpy had so many things in this house. Toys. Leashes. Brushes. Food. Cookies. I pulled all the food out of the cabinet because I didn’t want to see it every time I went to feed the cats, but I can’t bring myself to throw it away. So for now it’s all sitting on the counter, where instead of seeing it whenever I open the cabinet, I see it when I walk in the kitchen.
After I fed the cats this morning there was cat food left over. Rumpy would have snuck in to eat it. I ate breakfast and no one begged for a bite. I never ate without Rumpy nearby. I kept thinking I needed to go outside. I’d only been outside once, and that was to take out the trash; Rumpy and I went outside several times a day.
I am not sure how to proceed in this new normal. Rumpy was such a presence in this house and now it feels empty. In some ways it’s business as usual. Cats must be fed. Meds must be distributed. Litter boxes must be scooped. Laundry must be done. These things cannot wait, but in other ways it’s so not normal. Rumpy is not here. He was here yesterday but he is not here today, and he won’t be here anymore.
I have decided to not do anything major for 30 days. No throwing anything away. No cleaning of carpets. I don’t even want to wash the clothes I was wearing yesterday. I will have to vacuum the car at some point, but not today.
I took a blanket with me to the vet and Rumpy lay on it as he left. I brought it back home and put it in the floor along with his harness, collar and leash. The cats have sniffed at it. They now seem less upset now than they have been. They knew he was dying. They have comforted me and each other, but they also feel lost.
While I was spending those final moments with Rumpy, I felt DeDe here. I could see her smiling and wagging her nubby tail. It comforted me to know that her memory is still strong in my heart, and let me know that even though I sometimes find myself doubled over crying my eyes out, Rumpy’s memory will not die, and it won’t always be so painful.