March 19, 2021, our cat, Max, died suddenly in the middle of the night.
No warning. No signs. No indications.
One moment he was with us.
The next, he was gone.
It was very jarring.
We have two cats.
Had two cats.
Max and Oliver.
Oliver had medical problems in March of 2020. He stopped eating. Stopped drinking. There was a span of a couple of days when I had a deep knowing that he was dying.
He hid under our bed. His head hung.
I laid on the floor next to the bed, with my hand stretched as close to him as I could get, and cried.
But, he didn’t die.
I forced nutrients into him through a syringe. Took him into the bathroom when I showered and ran the shower water super hot to create steam to help clear out his sinuses.
He started eating again!
He lost four pounds in the ordeal. That’s a lot for a cat.
We just resigned ourselves to the fact that Oliver would likely die first.
When we had taken Oliver to the vet and had to leave him there during the day, we noticed Max started to act differently.
He was more present. More interactive.
Is this the kind of cat Max would be if Oliver wasn’t around?
Oliver was definitely the alpha.
We started to imagine who Max might become after Oliver passed. Hoping that would still be many years in the future.
And then, boom.
Max was gone.
We’d never get to see what kind of cat he would become if he was king of the castle.
Three nights after Max died, my husband, Judah, and I were laying next to one another in bed, talking.
The room was dark.
I made some random comment about the Winn-Dixie grocery store and proceeded to create a commercial for them using a funny voice.
“I love to go to the Winn-Dixie. No grocery store like it. I can get canned peas and shampoo under one roof.”
It was pure silliness. Judah was laughing so hard, he was gasp-laughing. My favorite laugh of his. It means he has been tickled to his bones.
“They put the ‘win’ in the heart of ‘Dixie’.”
I was dying laughing, too. A hearty, belly laugh.
I had a sense of euphoria deep in my gut. I love to play around and make people laugh.
The next thing I knew, the feeling deep in my gut turned, and I had tears streaming down my face.
The same basic sound was coming out of me. Because he couldn't see me, Judah thought I was still laughing.
But I was crying.
“I don’t know why, but my heart is hurting.”
He stopped laughing. I kept crying.
“I was laughing so hard and then I was crying.”
The two seemed so close to one another in my body, but they seemed so separate from one another in my mind.
My breathing slowed and the tears let up.
A few moments of silence.
Then, a lurch in my gut.
The cause of the initial laughter resurfaced in my mind, and I started laughing hysterically.
Judah did not join this time.
“Are you okay?” he asked cautiously. “You sound like The Joker.”
My laughter died down. My heart was racing.
What a crazy roller coaster ride of emotions. I’d never experienced anything quite like it before.
Full-out laughter turned into intense crying only to return to full laughter. All within a span of maybe five minutes.
I was spent. Good thing we were already in bed. I needed a nap.