Thursday, September 10, 2009

How do you?

Say goodbye forever, to your best friend?
How do you say goodbye to that face? Those wobbly eyeballs? That TAIL?

She was a rescue kitten...

She was so beloved in our home she had her own colloquialisms, she became a verb.

She had many names. The one we gave her:'Coco'. After we got to know her she became all of; but not limited to the following: Cocoyouresocute; Lemur butt; Ghostcat & Transporter Kitty (owing to the fact that she could disappear in the house and after much thorough searching on our part, would reappear mystically, sleepy eyed as if to say 'What? I've been here the whole time.') We knew differently of course, there was a magic door somewhere in the house, & when it would get really hot; we figured she was somewhere on a black sandy beach in her white fur & gorgeous sea blue eyes suckin' down a daiquiri under a cute umbrella.

But I digress; *sigh*

Coco bonded instantly with Ellen. They could be seen anywhere in the house together at all times. Sick or well, asleep or awake; eating or not; together always. Coco became Ellen's favorite muse for the camera & trust me when I tell you, Coco wouldn't have had it any other way. In fact; if you started talking sweetly to any of our other cats; Coco would insinuate herself immediately on the scene because she knew; all such worshipping was meant only for her.

After we created a lovely backyard full of plants & flowers to attract birds, butterflies & such, we made the decision to convert our cats from outdoor to indoor. The only times they were allowed outdoors was with me; for an hour or so in the afternoons & early Sunday mornings in the backyard. They much loved this time. As Ellen's star model; she became our 'Thank You' card.

The night of September 5th, 2009 was a gorgeous full moon. Ellen took her camera we went outside to photograph it. Two of our cats joined us; one was Coco. Upon coming back into the house; I thought El had Coco, El thought I had Coco, she put her camera away; we chatted a bit, then went to bed.

After my Sunday morning walk, I returned home; Coco neither came out from the garage to meet me (& do her morning stretch/flop in front of me) so I figured she was in El's room. I checked there; nope. Strange.

I got my coffee; opened the back door and went out; sat with the other girls & wondered where the heck that ghost cat had transported to this time. After watering the back yard; brought everyone back in & then I went to the front yard to water. It was then that I noticed a small patch of white fur on a low coarse brick barrier near the garage. I picked it up; not thinking. El got up came to the front door; I told her Coco was missing, it was strange; El said 'Transporter kitty'. And we laughed.

I went to the side of the house to turn the water off. There is a long stretch down the side of the house where the tall cypress tress grow shading everything. Nothing grows on that side as a result and sometimes trash blows there from the winds. Something caught my eye. Even from a distance I could see trouble... small white tufts of fur. And it was then my heart started trembling. I walked back there in & picked up the few tufts. There was nothing else, no sign of struggle, no blood, nothing... Just the fur. With my heart hammering in my chest, I walked to Ellen's window and asked her if it looked like Coco's fur to her (I was hoping beyond all hope that it was some other cat's fur owing to a fight or something) Ellen opened her screen & took it from me; I heard her say "it looks like it" and by the time I had turned around, she had thrown it back out the window. Ellen's action took me so by surprise that for a moment I was intensely angry with her I audibly gasped. Then the realization came to me, another component of my grief not yet known...

The loss to Ellen was so large, that when perceived by her tender young heart it became something to be avoided at all costs; she immediately went into denial out of self preservation. When I understood that, it was more devastating to me than the tragedy of Coco's disappearance.

I would have to watch my beloved daughter, endure the heart rending anguish of losing her best friend.

This was all 6 days ago now. I'm not trying to be dramatic; but honest. Body shaking sobs. I have not wanted to eat; have not cleaned house, have not much conversed. And for the first couple days, didn't even talk about it with El, fearing she wasn't ready. I didn't want to push her. If she still had hope of Coco's return, I would have to let her come to the realization herself. I didn't go to work on the 8th, nor did Ellen go to school. I could tell that morning when I went to wake her that she had cried in the night; her face & eyes all puffy. I simply kissed her head; (she leaned into me) and I said; don't worry, go back to sleep then.

Leaving her room, I felt a tiny pressure release in my pain, not screaming teapot release, but rather a slow, drip, drip, drip release that I would later recognize as a small step toward healing of my own shattered heart. Knowing that on some level, Ellen was facing it. My brave, strong, amazing daughter, on her own, without me prompting, was facing a horrible life truth. *sigh*

What I haven't told you dear readers; (and bless you if you're still reading this) is that the fault of Coco's death is mine. Even back in the archives of this blog; I wrote a post about an early morning sighting IN MY OWN BACKYARD of a beautiful Coyote. And I did not heed it's warning. Even as we locked the cats in at night; in our daily routine; my vigilance slipped. Just enough to let that tiny 4 year old life slip through it. She was not in that night; I did not make sure. My daughters heartbreak falls at my feet. Along with my own heart there shattered in tiny pieces, hers mingles there too and the whispers of the pieces as they rustle together like dried autumn leaves say to me 'guilty'. And I am.

WE are the caretakers of our animals. WE must be ever watchful for them. Just as we are over our children. And I failed; and EPIC fail. It cost someone her life; and it cost someone else so very dear to me, her heart and I accept responsibility for that.

As for me; there is a time of day that I cannot yet go into the backyard. Each time I think of it I feel myself breaking apart. The time when I would come home from work, kick of my shoes; walk barefoot on the grass, and water things. She would be there; in the area I don't mow so it's long & tall grass that she could hide in, stalk my feet from, and ambush the other cats. I know I'll look for that tail, or that face in the grass, I won't find it anymore; and my heart will squeeze tight because I know, she's just gone.

Coco, we love you with all our hearts and all our feelers. We send big purrs to you and hope you can feel the vibrations of love.

And, I'm so very, very sorry to have lost you. Please forgive me beautiful girl.


  1. I have tears in my eyes, for Coco, for Ellen and for you.

    Swift journey gorgeous puss.

  2. My heart hurts for all of you and the tears course down my cheeks. Hugs to you all.

  3. My tears are flowing and I feel pain in my heart. I was so hoping Coco came home safely. I'm so sorry for you and Ellen. My thoughts are with you both.

  4. Oh, Stacy, I'm so sorry.

  5. I feel your loss and pain and guilt, but this is the time to teach your daughter the biggest lesson in life. How to forgive yourself for a mistake. Go through the steps with her, let her see you accept the forgiveness and move on. We all make mistakes, big ones and small ones, it's how we learn and grow from them that makes us whole. ((hugs)) for you and El and scratches for Coco. I'm sorry for your loss.

  6. Stacy. Ellen. Coco. Here are my tears to mix with yours.

  7. I am so sorry to hear about Coco. That cat was obviously a special one. Ticia said it very well - we all make mistakes. Don't torment yourself too much about it - we have all made little assumptions like you did, that Coco was safely inside. Hugs to you and Ellie.

  8. Oh! I am sobbing as I type this. I so F-E-E-L for you. I feel your loss and your pain. When I moved here I came with the joy of my heart "merlin". He was just the most special cat I have ever known. I did not know about raccoons then. I was so naive.I spent a month calling and crying and walking until one day I found a patch of pure white 'rabbit' soft hair. Here I am 13 years later still crying for Merlin - and now for you as well. Be soft dear friend and may th3e angels wrap you in their arms and comfort you - and Ellen too.

  9. Awww... Stacy, that is so sad.
    But do not blame yourself, the coyote - or anything else - might have got her even during the day, even in front of your very eyes. Lives are fragile things.

  10. I too, have tears, in the reminder of my own loss last summer of our lovely, unique one-eyed Isabella (Izzy, Bella-Bell, Mafia Cat). The roles were reversed in our case: I am the daughter who let the cat out for just a few minutes at dusk, and then got distracted by other things and forgot. She was spotted by a neighbor once the next day, but never again. The area around us is full of coyotes and fisher cats; I just kept imagining her lost in the woods, scared, and the guilt of my failing to protect her still haunts me.

    She was my parents' cat, much beloved by my mother, and it was MY fault she was gone. When, a few months later, we got another cat, my mother took a long time to bond with her.

    Sorry for such a long comment, but I wanted to share that indeed, I know some of what you are feeling. Thoughts and prayers with you and your family.

  11. Anonymous6:36 PM

    We just heard about your loss and want to add our sympathies. Nobody has any right to cast a stone at you, least of all us.

    Although we watch closely whenever we take our cats outside, one morning a year ago Caitie sneaked off. We were assuming she would walk one way, and she made a U-turn and went the other.

    Thankfully, she came home about 12 hours later. But she might not have... and we understand how easily something can happen, and the anxiety and the self-blame. We hope you can find a way to forgive yourselves.

  12. After you leaving such lovely remarks on my blog I thought I would return the compliment ... I was so upset by reading of your loss and in a small part, understand what your daughter and you are going through.
    We dont have wild animals that can harm our beloved pets so if they are outside cats,they spend a great deal of their time outside. What we do have are owners of dogs that are really too big to be walked in residential areas. About 15 years ago, when my son was 18, one such dog slipped its lead and jumped into our garden to come face to face with Charlie. Had she been a normal cat things would have been different but she defended her territory and alas lost her life by one violent shake from the ceature. (recounted by a neighbour). We were out and on our return we were faced by the result. I felt terrible as I felt I should have called her in before we went out but my sons reactions stunned us all. He placed her lovingly in a box and went out into the garden, with a spade, in torrential rain. He would not speak to any of us but dug a hole and then sat hugging the box for what seemed like forever. I could see his lips moving and, even though the rain was heavy, tears pouring from his eyes. It hurt so much to see my tough son in this state and wanting no heip.
    Eventually he came in and all he said was "I've just lost my best friend" as he pushed past me.
    Weeks later he began to talk about Charlie, who had adopted us when my son was nine. I found out then, that he had talked every night, for nine years, to her about things he could not share with anyone else and her passing left a huge hole ...which I do not think he ever filled.
    I wrote this to say I understand but you cannot blame yourself or understand how a teenager reacts to things. The pain of loss will go ... eventually ... but the memory of Coco will be there forever.

    I hate it when non animal lovers say 'Its only a cat' or when they find we have 18, mostly rescued, say 'How do you tell them apart'. My daughter recently said to a lady who made that remark 'How do you tell your children apart?' ...there was no answer.

  13. Oh my goodness. I just clicked through from Angies blog because your comment about the spiders and creation etc was so wonderful I had to come have a snoop at your blog. I'm so sorry to find this post. Like Angie says we don't have big animals like that loose here but we do have irresponsible dog owners :( My beloved Mindy went out and never came home nearly 2 years now. I searched the streets for even a sign but no luck. She was a very conspicuous cat - well known to the neighbours because of her beautiful tortoise shell markings. It's the not knowing thats the worst, not being able to say goodbye. In my heart of hearts I know she is gone but I like to think she is with another family. But at nearly 16 I can't help but think she knew it was her time and went off somewhere which breaks my heart.

    Please don't keep blaming yourself, I know it's easy to say but please don't. She's still with you in spirit if not in form.

  14. Oh Angie! That story has me in tears. I'm so sorry! And your daughters comment is priceless! Some days the humans I share this planet with really disappoint me. But then there's days like today when I read your story & can hear the love in your words and it's humans like you I'm proud to share this time with.

    Carmen, thank you too for stopping by. I agree with you, not knowing is the worst! My daughter & I had a heart to heart about this whole thing a week or so ago now. I told her how sorry I was & asked her forgiveness. She just stared at me as if I had gone insane (ok, i'm in perimenopause so I get this look a lot from her) and said 'It totally wasn't your fault mom! These things just happen! Please don't blame yourself, I don't blame you. You take such good care of our 'spoiled' cats & me too, there is nothing you could have done." So, I hugged her then and cried some more & we both started sharing 'LocoCoco' stories & laughed & cried some more.

    In this midst of this, I created another art quilt & it's over at my other blog
    It's turning out well & I'm happy to be able to create something I can keep in memory of our beloved girl!

  15. Oh Stacy, it's so hard to get over a loss like that. I'm sorry you lost your friend and family member so early.


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