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Fear of Forgetting

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

I lost my cat, Max, suddenly and without warning, on Friday, March 19, at 2:50 am.

Almost immediately, my husband, Judah, and I started sharing stories about Max. Adopting him, his timid meow that got stronger as he got older, his awkwardness, his ability to be alone but also affectionate. We recalled the details of Thursday night before we went to bed, detailing his every move. It was almost as if, by talking about him, we could keep him alive.

But eventually, we had to go to sleep.

Judah took Friday off, and we spent the day together. We didn’t talk about Max non-stop, but we verbalized as much as we could.

I walked up the stairs to go to the bathroom and was hit with a pang of sadness. Max often slept on our bed, visible from the top of the stairs. As I hit the top stair, I would always look to see if he was there. If he was, I’d go in and pet him once I finished in the bathroom.

When we took showers, Max would often sit between the liner and the curtain and watch the water fall. He loved the movement of water.

At each awareness of Max’s absence from our lives, we shared the pain with one another.

We ran some errands on Friday. It was good to get out of the house, have our minds on something else for a time.

Saturday was pretty low-key.

Sunday we were gone most of the day. We met up with a fellow pet-lover friend and shared our grief and stories with her.

That night, we had a memorial for Max. We had a brown Amazon box from 2018 that sat on the ottoman in our living room. Max hated to be held, but he would climb in the box to receive “pets”. He trained us to meet him there for the love exchange. We lit a candle, looked at photos and videos of Max, shared memories, and then broke down the Amazon box for recycling.

I felt like we had done a good job of giving ourselves space to grieve and remember.

I didn’t see Monday coming.

I woke up with the heavy weight of grief on my chest. As I engaged in my “normal” Monday routine, I experienced a sensation I can only describe as fear.

With each step forward, I felt like I was leaving Max behind.

My brain knows I can’t just stay in one place. Even if I could, it wouldn’t bring him back. But my heart longs for what was. It fears what may never be again, and at the same time, it fears loving again and hurting again.

I don’t want to forget him, the love we shared, and the impact he had on my life. I want to hold on, hoping that if I don’t breathe, time won’t pass, and none of it will be real.

It is so hard to keep moving forward.

But time marches on, and the ones we’ve loved and lost must remain only in our memories.

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