It's a strange feeling to take a cat to the vet, and then come home without her. Of course, we did bring her home, but not really her. Of course, she hadn't been herself for a while. But still, just like we did three months ago, we loved her and cried on her, loaded her into the crate, and took her, tearily, to the vet- the lovely vet who helped us help her. Since Pip's trip to the vet was so recent, it was a familiar process- we knew what decisions we had to make, and how to make them. We pre-knew our preferences. Blessedly, it was smooth and peaceful, and we brought Zarley home and buried her next to Pip, under the rhododendron bush.
When we were finished, we ritually started to strip and clean the house. We threw away the litter box, gathered up all the random water bowls that were scattered around the house. We disassembled the steps that our old girls had needed to get up on the bed in their later years, and pulled out the scratching post and bed and various other things. It felt cathartic, to me- not because I wanted all traces of Zarley to be gone, but because it felt right to address the truth that the cats were here, and now things have changed- now they are not here.
But the weirdest thing of it all is not... I don't know. Considering? Taking care? Worrying? Scott vacuumed and I didn't have to worry about the cat being afraid of the machine. I mixed up some tuna and didn't have to worry about cats circling my feet and crying for the juice. We went in and out of the house without having to worry about Zarley slipping out. Zarley was a little "special" and was the neediest, loviest cat ever. She followed me constantly, would pace back and forth while I puttered in the kitchen, begging to be held like a baby. She would pounce onto me if I took too long to pick her up. Now I can walk and putter unfettered.
You know me and my heretical faith, refusing to see a divinely-intended point in suffering. But I do think that if we are paying attention, we can develop empathy from our relatively small suffering, for all those who are suffering greatly. Putting Zarley's things away and facing a catless future makes me ache for people who pack up a child's things, or a husband's. It pricks at my undercurrent of fear of the day when I come home without Scott, or he comes home without me. I can't can't can't imagine.
For now we clean up and carry on and feel this sorrow, and hope never to feel any sorrow worse.