The cat-flap is silent. A half-eaten bag of treats lies unfinished on the kitchen shelf. There are no loud meows in the middle of the night.
Our beloved, adored little Bill is gone, killed by a hit and run driver on Thursday 22 September. He was only four years old.
My heart is not so much broken as shattered into a million tiny pieces. The thought of never again seeing him trot happily down the garden path or covering him in kisses breaks my heart. Repeatedly.
Our house, once so full of life, feels empty.
My grief is just as strong as it has been when I’ve lost friends and family. It’s different, but only because all grief is as unique as the relationship you mourn.
I’ve come to the realisation that the void we leave is directly proportional to the joy and love we give. And Bill gave us so much of both.
The bond we have with our pets is unique and can be closer than many human bonds. We often talk to our furry friends more openly than we do anyone else – telling them our fears, our insecurities, our dreams. I’ve cried in front of my cats at times I would never have let another human see my tears.
It is now that I find myself trying to believe in an afterlife again, because the alternative, that I will simply never see him again, hurts too much. I want to believe that when I die I will cross to a new world. I will see a small little figure trotting toward me from out of the mist, tail up, chirruping away with excitement.
Bill was one of a kind and we loved him from the first moment we saw him at the Animal Shelter. We had a new name in mind, but the animal shelter had given him the name Bill and we decided it was unfair to change it on a whim. Besides, it just seemed to suit him. He was happy-go-lucky, fun, dependable.
As much as I love the ‘fuck you’ attitude many cats have, Bill was never like that. He was always unfailingly happy to see us, whether we were coming in from work or collecting him from the cat hotel after a three week holiday.
He would purr and meow so loudly, but he also made wonderful little Bill sounds that I’ve never heard another cat make. He would ‘meep meep’ like the roadrunner and chirrup away happily, telling us about his day.
He would sleep on his back, limbs akimbo, and from time to time curl in on himself. He had the most insanely cute way of putting his paws over his eyes when he did this, like he was playing peekaboo. It would melt my heart every time.
A couple of weeks after we got him I hurt my back. One evening I had a warm bath in an attempt to ease the pain. He jumped onto the side of the bath to say hello and see what I was doing. I was anxious. I was in too much pain to move my limbs out the way quickly if he fell in. He would panic and my legs would be shredded. I braced myself.
Unsurprisingly, he fell in. Surprisingly, he was completely calm. He patiently waited for me to lift him out (I couldn’t move very quickly) and then started cleaning himself.
It was about then I realised we’d adopted the most awesome cat the world had ever known.
He followed me when I went to feed the hedgehog on the last few evenings we had together. As I made my way back up the garden, he’d hide behind things and then jump out at me when I passed. God, that little cat could make me laugh.
I see him everywhere, his favourite sleeping spots (there were many), his toys, his fur on the carpet, his beds and blankets, his scratching posts. He is everywhere, but he is not here.
He filled our hearts, lives and home with so much joy and love. Without him, they all feel empty.
We know that this will hurt for a long time. It’s hard to imagine life without our happy little friend. But we’ve decided that we will pay tribute to his short life by trying to ‘be more Bill’.
Bill was always loving, playful and full of joy. He never held a grudge (when I accidentally shut him in the garage overnight) and he didn’t sweat the small stuff (like falling in the bath). We think he had a pretty amazing attitude to life. The world needs more Bills.
So, my littlest, favouritest buddy, if there is an afterlife (and I really, really, really hope there is), be happy and have fun, but wait for me. We’re going to have a lifetime of cuddles to make up for. I’ll bring treats.
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