For over two years, I’ve been getting ready for a loss that I knew it would devastate me and change my life. But now that I am grieving, I don’t recognize the feelings I am having, so I don’t know how to work on them. I’ve come to feel so lost, that I got to wonder if I was grieving the loss of myself.
“Ask for help. Talk to someone”. Been there; done that. Didn’t help! Whenever I say “I feel that…” people hear Chinese coming out of my mouth (I speak Spanish. And it’s mandarin). Besides, most people don’t perform well in front of a person who is grieving. It’s like they are watching a squirrel twerking, and they think they can tell the squirrel how to twerk.
So, I thought about writing about it, and publish it.
And let me tell you, before this very moment, I would have never even thought about sharing something like this, because, well…, “thinking about death is too sad, and why think about it now.”
I used to think, “People won’t want to read about it.” But then I found myself eating blog posts and TED talks on loss, and “Wow, there’s so much written… People do need this. Fuck. I’m ‘people’.”
I knew so little… And I have grieved throughout my life. Not only the loss of loved ones, but also the loss of my mind, my identity… So many things; huge things. I am a trauma survivor. And I never took a pill nor did therapy to get healthy. I found my ways, and I picked myself back up.
But what I’ve been experiencing, made me feel I knew nothing about grief… And I …
… Ok, I’ll start from the beginning,
“Hello. I am Laly. I am 46 years-old, I am grieving the loss of my furry baby and I don’t know what the heck is going on.”
In June 2021, my eldest furry baby “Winky” (15-years-old at the time) was on the brink of death. The vet told me, “Cats don’t live much longer. And this condition will take him in weeks, months. No more than a year.”
He got healthier and stronger and you couldn’t tell he’s ill, but there was a death sentence upon our lives. Hence since that date, all I could think about is “when.” Every-single-day. (This was an “anticipated grief. Did you know? I did not.)
Now, don’t get me wrong. Don’t tell me, “he’s still here, enjoy this extra time with him, we’re all going to die someday,” because I have that very clear in my mind.
The thing is, when you’re in a lockdown because there is a freaking global pandemic wiping out humanity of the face of the earth, and one of your young first cousins dies because of it; when you’re coping with the loss of your identity, the family and life you knew; and on top of it, your “soulmate” receives a death sentence – “TBD” – it fucks up your mind.
I am ADHD for Christ’s sake! You don’t tebede me things! And of all things, you don’t tedebe me a death!
Nevertheless, his survival was a wakeup call.
I began practicing gratitude (which was life changing) and I’ve been seizing every single day with him and his brother, Cocó, like I never had before.
But, six months later, Winky pulled a “Dexter” on me. He threw up about two pounds of blood, out of the blue. Big pond in the kitchen; countless splashes over my bed (Cats do that, you know? They come and show you when something is wrong. And it was around 10pm; I was already in bed.)
I rushed with him to the hospital thinking, telling myself, “This is it. Six months. NO. You’re grateful. This is it. NO. You’re grateful!”
The vets found nothing… I was grateful… But, what the fuck.
You don’t erase two Dexter’s scenes from your mind just like that.
I began feeling the clock ticking louder for him…, and for myself. I needed to rethink my blog, how to share my purpose in life. I had been trying, but I just couldn’t… And the ticking was so freaking loud…
Then the next year, in May 2022, my dad had heart surgery, which left two angels of death lurking around me. But still, I was not going to give in to the depression that was standing behind them, waiting to “peekaboo” me.
By November 2022, I was practicing gratitude like a pro, and – with high hopes – still trying to figure out what to do with my blog, my life.
But one day I noticed Winky was bumping into things. Another rush to the hospital!
He went blind… and I went down, down, down…
This is a thing most people don’t get: For those of us who don’t have human children, these so-called “pets” are our family. We raise them, feed them and educate them. We play with them and feel guilty when “mama needs to work.” And when they sleep, we watch them as if every breath they take were what keeps our heart beating.
And for some of us, ADHD, HSP, neurodivergent …, that bond reaches a whole other level. Even physic I dare saying.
I always felt Winky to be my soulmate (I may find another one in a person, but to this date he is the only soulmate I’ve met). When he was a year and a half, the vet told me, “You are both obsessed with each other, and this isn’t healthy. Get him a brother.” So, I did.
His brother Cocó was born on January 15, 2008. The breeder told me, “He needs to be with his mother and brothers for at least two months.” On March 15, he was part of our family.
I was already with the man I married (and divorced), but the three of us became something else. And then through all my ups and downs, we were “the three of us.” The wink and the smile, and the fatty one.
An otherworldly connection…
So, yes; when Winky went blind, and I could feel his confusion, his fear…, I collapsed.
But while I was trapped in that misery, a beautiful thing happened! One night I had some sort of epiphany. I realized I needed to “relaunch” this blog, and I began working on a story as if it were the masterpiece of my life. (I entitled it “The Night I Wished I Was 61”.)
Since December 2022, that’s all I did… while I was catproofing the house for a blind cat.
And I also worked on my mental health because I needed to “get ready.” I’d said to myself, “Rather sooner than later, this life you had for 17 years will end. Make your peace with it.” But one needs something bigger than us to do that, you know?
The catholic Church I had grown up in, was not giving me what I needed. So, I made up my own system of beliefs. Nobody holds the truth on what happens in the afterlife! And when we’re grieving, we need answers. So, I made them up:
“Is there an afterlife? Will he be ok up there? Will I see him again?” Yes, yes, and yes. Before coming to this earth, the ones I love, and I, were a big ball of energy blended with the Universe. Then we split and hit the ground, one by one, until finding each other. We’ll meet again. For we are one.
(I’m very tempted to add unicorns to my tale, but I think that would be going too far.)
I began, more than ever, to visualize the new life that would begin. Moving to New York, traveling again, meeting new people. Meeting the new me! “I am grateful for the life we’ve shared, for the beautiful life we are sharing. I will embrace the new life with joy and gratitude.”
I was super ready! Right?
This past August 3rd, I got worried for Cocó – “my baby” – who hadn’t been eating for two days. The first day, when he threw up his food, I thought, “I’m stressed because of the blog and that freaking story I can’t finish, so he’s stressed.” The second day, I started googling. On the third day, I freaked out.
I sat down on the floor with him, next to his food, and I asked him crying, “please baby eat.” He cried too… and he turned his back on me.
If you know cats, you know what that means.
On our way to the hospital, I kept telling him, “Don’t worry. You probably have the same your brother has. You’re 15. The same age he was when he got ill and he’s 17 now! You’ll be ok, baby. WE ARE GRATEFUL, BABY!”
But … the vets found a lump.
They did an echograph, with me in the freaking room, and one of the doctors said looking at the screen, “Oh. Nah. This won’t last a month!”
And it didn’t.
After his diagnosis and for the next twenty-three days, I implored the Universe to take him in his sleep. I begged, crying my eyes out in parking lots, “Please don’t make me decide. It will kill me.”
But on August 26th, I survived.
Isn’t life… I don’t know…
Two years “getting ready” for my soulmate’s death, and in three weeks, my baby was dead.
Anticipated grief on top of anticipated grief, equals “must write a journal.” So, during those twenty-three days I kept a record of everything.
Of my feelings, letting it all out while trying to figure out what it seemed written in a different language. And of our evolution as well. I would have to make “the decision”, I would probably and stupidly (but humanely) regret it, and I needed to have a record of it all. (As in, “I ended his life because of this. Two plus two equals reasonable euthanasia.”)
That pretty little tale I had come up with, actually paid off. I was able to prepare Cocó for his journey, to prepare all of us.
He chose my bed, our bed one day… Then he even told me “when.”
I laid next to him, and his head on my arm… And he left.
It was, honestly, wonderful…
But the next day…
“What … the fuck … is happening.”
Emptiness. Within me and all around me. An unknown cold void. Nausea. Guilt. Joy? Physical weakness. And my hyper brain:
“Eat something because you lost ten pounds in three weeks. Why would I eat? He is dead. Have some water. No, he couldn’t drink it the last day. How could I drink it? He can’t. He is dead.
Keep going! Write, write, write. Winky is still here. He needs me. For Christ’s sake his crying is driving me insane! Be patient. Be grateful; say your prayer; say grace for your wonderful your life. It’s not wonderful anymore! Cry. Stop crying. Watch the home videos and cry, it’s good for you. This is killing me! Publish something. You just relaunched the blog. Don’t give up now!
… I don’t care…
Fuck the new life…
I want this one I had.”
One day I was desperately crying, and I began yelling, “Give me my baby back! Give me my baby back!” And swear to you I heard … “Ask for something we can give you.”
I asked for peace… And peace I was given.
But seriously, there is nothing bigger than the Universe. And it is … listening! You just gotta ask. You know?
Thank you for reading.
I’d say, “I know I can be too much”. But those of us who are wired differently, we are to stop sending that message to others and to our brains above all.
The people who could be my support system, choose not to. For years I’ve been explaining, “Don’t tell me about the news in the morning. It hurts me. I gave up cable to avoid it.” For years I’ve been saying, “Please, don’t give me advice if I don’t ask you to do so. I am simply sharing…”
But no one listens…
Instead, if I react upset (and by upset, I mean: calmed, with a smile, saying, “Please, I’ve asked you and explained to you, not to say that”) Do you know what I get? The following: “We cannot say anything to you!” Yes. I get that. With exclamation and all.
There is only one person I can rely on: my godmother. But I am trying not cry my eyes out with her because she is grieving her husband, and her son.
(Oh, yes. My uncle died a few days before Cocó. Seeing people at the wake was the highlight of my August. But then on October, when my cousin died, it wasn’t that fun… While I was driving to his funeral, I thought, “I don’t need the GPS! I remember!” then I experienced a Joey Tribianni’s kind of pause and thought, “Ok. This is fucked up.”)
And grieving is… Grieving is not an opportunity for others to showcase how much they have (not) learned in life. It is a process for those who have lost a part of themselves. I didn’t expect anything but company, maybe watching a TV show in silence…
So, thank you for reading.
I keep thinking, “Can we get ready for a loss” …
It’s just, two years ago, I knew the pain of losing Winky or Cocó would be bigger than other losses, not that it would feel different…
When we lose someone with whom we were living, when their energy leaves our side, the void in our house is almost palpable. That absence seems to be on itself an entity.
And it’s like I only thought about the loss and not about the grief. That I was going to cry my eyes out, and “just deal with it.” I pictured what would happen and what I’d feel as if it would all occur in a moment, in something still that I was going to suck up! (Being time blindness doesn’t look now as cool as it did.)
I wasn’t aware of that continuance… You know what I mean? I didn’t think about grieving as the process that it is, nor about the fact that we cannot possibly know how it will unfold within us…
And it is scary to realize that…
… But it is so comforting to know that pain won’t kill us, nor our dreams. It is even heartwarming to feel our inner strength blooming through the tears.
We can get ready for the grieving process, and we should! Little things like being aware that there will be a “process,” having a strong system of beliefs, practicing gratitude, and above all having a purpose in life, it all makes a huge difference.
I mean, what is the one thing in life that will certainly happen and hurt us? The loss of someone we love. Why don’t we get ready for it? “Because thinking about death is too sad, and why think about it now.”
We really know how to look the other way, don’t we?
And regarding having a purpose in life… I promise you that I wouldn’t have made it through this pain if I hadn’t had this blog, this that feels like a debt of honor to you. I am even starting to believe that a meaningful purpose has to be bigger than us… For others, and not only for ourselves…
Today I feel so calmed, so stripped of the fear of death, that I honestly think this might be the secret of life or something.
And I feel so, so humble.
I am barely beginning to scratch the corner of what I wanted to learn in this … “journey on earth”, and it excites me to realize how much I do not know.
But to know, more than ever, that we are to seek for the right questions instead of the answers that no one holds, it is so liberating.
“Ask for something we can give you,” I can still here the Universe saying after every single tear I drop. And to be sure that I will receive it, it is such a gift…
Maybe I should start again…
“Hello, I am Laly. I lost my son.
My son died. I had two sons, now I have one.
He was such a good boy, such a caring young brother…
He was the only one who’d hug me. He’d look at me as if I was the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. He needed four things: food; his brother; his mommy; and one lace that’s been picking up dirt for ages.
He never got over his fear of the rain, so he’d come running to me every time he’d hear a thunder… Or he’d run and hide his head below our bed… Only his head…
He was… just a big fat ball of love… He taught me what unconditional love is. He taught me I could be loved like that, and that “I” could love like that as well.
… Can I show you a photo?
That’s my boy.
I miss him.”