My cat Chelsea died this morning. My 21-year old cat who journeyed through my life as a young, confused woman in her 20′s, who met a great, young boy on Martha’s Vineyard to a middle aged mother with a mortgage, career, two kids and two dogs. She was by my side during all these growing pains and wonderful discoveries and now she’s gone.
On one hand my sadness feels surreal as I wonder, “Did I expect the cat to live forever?” Maybe I did. Maybe her passing means that a huge part of my life is over. Getting through graduate and law school, finding that first home. Losing parents, having babies…moving and moving on.
I remember being horribly sick during both of my pregnancies with that feeling only matched by a combination champagne/vodka hangover. Laying on the bathroom floor, ready to barf at any moment, Chelsea would cradle herself, tucked underneath my arm as if she were protecting me or telling me that she was there (I wish to hold my hair) when I felt horrible. Later in my pregnancies when I finally resembled a house, she would perch high above on my stomach at night, as if she were protecting the baby, often blocking my view of the television, as if to say, “Hey, I’m still here.”
She went through moves, in fact traveling the country with my husband during those early days when he schelped from clerkship to clerkship spanning from north Florida to D.C. Dutifully by his side, never getting into trouble, always loyally looking up at him with her over sized, rounded eyes.
Unlike other animals, she knew how to roll with the changes. Cats are creatures of habit, but as long as she knew she could be near me she was fine. The kids came, then years later we added two large black Labrador Retrievers.
Our lives became busier. I no longer had time to spend laid, curled up next to her but she always found “her time” with me. Laying on the couch only a few months ago, she’d hop onto the couch, rubbing her cheek against mine as if to say, “I’m still here.”
She was an amazing friend and pal. I mourn her absence but also the end of an entire era in my life. She was my youth, my growth and change years. She started with some messed up kid and ended with an middle aged almost fully evolved adult.
Chelsea must have gone peacefully in her sleep after my last encounter with her was when she could barely lift her head off the soft blanket to meow and stare into my eyes. I fed her a little milk as she stopped eating a few weeks ago and she laid there lifeless taking her last breaths.
How a cat can leave an indelible impression on a human being astounds and amazes me. She was irreplaceable, just like the life I have traveled through and a chapter I am now closing.
September ? 1991 – September 18, 2012
Gina Ragusa is a freelance writer and mom from sunny (and sometimes not) South Florida. Her 15 year experience ranges from writing about banking to tattoo parlors.