Gandalf, My Baby.

This is by far the hardest post I have had to write. I've been putting it off because I didn't know how to start it. I still don't. But I'm doing so anyway because I've come to the realisation that writing this post could help me deal with my loss, and assist in me moving on, even though a huge part of me doesn't want to move on.

(I have to warn you that this post would be very wordy. It's been in my Draft for days and days, and very unrefined. Also, I have to let you know that this post is being written more for me, for my sake, than for an audience. You may choose to stop reading whenever, of course. I wouldn't mind, even if I knew you did stop.)

My baby Gandalf passed away. My beautiful, beautiful baby boy. Three weeks ago. In the comfort of his room, with his Mamma next to him.

I've experienced loss before but, somehow, never like this. Granted, alhamdulillah, all the people I love the most on earth are, lucky for me, healthy, well, and just a phone call away (or a Whatsapp message/a Facetime video away). Before I got my furbabies, I never thought I could feel this way over a non-human being. I've always liked cats but, really. I had no idea

The devastating feeling that first few days after Gandalf left me was indescribable. He had been sick for a while, so I knew it was coming and had tried to prepare myself. But I just didn't think it would be this soon.

Truthfully, I had feared the grieve would consume me. I had confided this in Shah weeks ago, when Gandalf's condition kept worsening, to please be patient with me when Gandalf leaves us a day, a week, a month, a year from now, whenever that would be. Shah loves Gandalf too, almost every bit as I do. But Gandalf was truly my baby; Shah and I both knew I would need him more than he'd need me.

I'm thankful to have Shah as my support system. I wouldn't be doing as well without him guiding me through this loss. The grief did take over my life for a while. I am grateful to have my Mom constantly calling me to check on me the first couple of days afterwards, and for my siblings, and my friend, who let me share my memories with Gandalf with them — that helped a lot. 

Googling about "how to grieve a pet" surprisingly helped, too. I learned that I need to do certain things to be at peace. Writing this post might possibly be one of those things.

I am now able to reminisce my time spent with Gandalf without shedding a tear (well, most of the time, anyway), so this post finally feels alright to be written.

They say that non-pet owners would not be able to understand the grief over losing a pet. And I agree, to some level.  One of my best friends warned me years before not to get a pet cat, because of the hurt she experienced when she lost her furbaby. She said it would be too painful. I had sympathised with her, but I was not a pet owner then. I completely understand, now.

But, remembering the love I had for Gandalf, and the love I had felt for him, the 17 months I had with him made it all worthwhile. And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. 

I wish I could have more. So, so much more than 17 months. But it felt enough too, somehow, when I think of how it could have been less, or even zero.
How much less colourful my life would have been, had I never known Gandalf.

I've mentioned before that Gandalf was born with Swimmer Syndrome which we successfully overcame — my lil hero made his Mamma so proud. He was a turtling kitten to a heroic chaser in just a mere seven days (I have videos to prove it) with physiotherapy and legs-bandaging. It was a battle, by the way, to bandage his legs together every single time as he was extraordinarily strong for such a tiny baby! Gandalf was a pure fighter, from the moment he came into this world.

His mummy Betty gifted us the prettiest furbabies ever but Gandalf was really such a sight; he's just the most beautiful boy kitten I had ever seen in my entire life. And just the sweetest thing, oh my goodness, and he was my family's favourite out of the bunch from the start. I've read somewhere that God sometimes takes away the people or the beings that you love the most — the ones that are the best of the bunch — but for the most wonderful reason that we may or may not understand. And I believe that wholeheartedly. I believe it was the right time for Gandalf to go.

A few months ago, he was diagnosed with congenital feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, short formed HCM. The prognosis was not good, but he was ever the heroic fighter. I believe he held on for as long he could for his Mamma's sake. Shah and I were always amusedly talking about how he appeared as if he had convinced himself he was not unwell, that whatever difficulty he encountered was just a tiny bit of obstacle he had to get around — and he impressively got around many of them too. His resoluteness to stick around led to him teaching me to know the kind of love I wouldn't have otherwise got to know.

•     •     •     •     •     •     •

These photos of him and me were taken in late March, exactly three weeks after he was diagnosed, and exactly one week after Shah and I thought we were going to lose him for the first time. There were a few more horrible moments like that afterwards in the coming weeks, each time leaving me heartbroken and thinking, oh God, this time I would lose him for sure. But he fought. And persevered. On and on. Somehow, Gandalf pulled through each time. But he was undeniably going to get worse. 

After we took him home on the day of the first time we thought we were going to lose him, I told Shah I wanted proper photos with him to capture a time when he was fully him. The most beautiful furbaby boy we have ever laid our eyes on. To remember him how he should be remembered. After all, you might know how I prize photos!

We took a whole bunch of photos, but you guys would think I'm crazy(-er) if I were to share all 23 of the shortlisted ones, plus I've got 126 pics waiting in another folder.

And I remember how, like most cats, he had limited patience to sit still and look at his Mamma as lovingly as his Mamma looks at him in these photos, but he lent me enough of his attention for these snaps before he went off to do his thayng (exploring or napping, most likely). I also managed to snap some photos with his even more impatient sisters on this same day, but perhaps I'll share those pics some other day.

It was a good time, the day of these photos, but in all honesty, all times with him — good, not so good — are all wonderful memories I wish to keep. And I cannot tell you how appreciative I am of all the private photos and videos of him I have on my phone.

I know that being a mother to a furbaby is not comparable to mothering human children. Throughout this experience, I kept thinking about having the utmost respect for parents who are tasked with caring for their human children that were born with challenging conditions, or children who grew up and get unwell too soon and need constant medical care. I feel like my heart broke and my world shook every time I received bad news about Gandalf's worsening condition at the vet, and I just cannot, cannot imagine how much worse it is for mothers (and fathers) with a sick child out there. I've read stories about parents soldiering on above and beyond to give their ill child the best life could offer, and they do it with such steely determination.

Pet owners are parents in a different sort of way, but I do think caring for Gandalf made me a mother figure. I am Gandalf's mother, that's how I feel. He made me a mother. So I tried to have the same steely determination, except with a steady stream of tears running down my cheeks every now and then. But I tried. And I'd like to think that he was preparing me to become a better mother to his mummy Betty and Moshi and Nobu, his two sisters.

I kept typing a list of the ways and the little things that made him special but I kept deleting them. A part of me is deciding not to share them, choosing to keep close to my heart all those things that made him my baby, my Gandalf. I don't want anyone to read them and deducing, well, he sounds like just another sweet lovely cat. He wasn't. He was so much more than that.
It's just me, nowhere near a good enough writer to immaculately paint the Gandalf picture through my limited vocab.

Vocab aside, I'm unable to share his cutest pictures and videos as they mostly also have me in them, taken in private moments and with me not in my hijab. Although, admittedly, even if I were all covered up in them, they're not meant for social media either. But I still want to share some of my feelings here, and I'm glad I have these exact pictures to share with you. 

If you've managed to read as far as this, thank you. I may write this for me but I do want you to know some parts of my grieving at the very least. It's a way for me to explain why I haven't blog here as regularly, or been on social media as often as before.

•     •     •     •     •     •     •

It's enough to say he had my whole, entire heart in the palms of his four amazingly perfect paws. I could feel Gandalf taking away a huge Gandalf-shaped piece of my heart with him when he left me. In my head, I think that he wanted to keep it with him until he sees me again. But I also think he would want me to fill it with other things, too, while waiting for that moment to come.

Sounds crazy, I know. But this is how I'm coping. And I almost managed to not cry at all while typing. Almost! But it's OK. Reliving my sweetest memories with him is a good thing. It's included in the Google search I mentioned earlier, actually. And I'm pretty sure it's OK to occasionally cry over them too, instead of bottling all of my emotions up.

•     •     •     •     •     •     •

In the weeks before he passed, I had prayed to God to take him away peacefully if he was going to suffer any more, but to please let him live longer if he would be happier to do so in his condition. And God granted my prayers. It was all I had asked for.

•     •     •     •     •     •     •

I miss him So. Much sometimes that it hurts. Like I could just be doing something normal like folding clothes or waking up from sleeping, I would think of him and physically feel the ache in my chest. At times, I can't believe he isn't around anymore, honestly.

I am holding on to the hope of seeing him again in heaven, if God is willing, and I am really looking forward to that day when he would climb into my lap again, and hug my hand again as I stroke him. 

I hope I made you as happy as you made me, Gandalf. Sayang Mamma ni. Mamma love you so much, my handsome sweetheart.



And to you, thank you for reading this. I hope you are all well and staying safe 

Comments

  1. I'm very sorry for your loss. It is uniquely difficult to lose a beloved pet. Gandalf was beautiful and your grief so clearly heartfelt.
    Sincerely, Jude

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Judy. It's so good to hear from you again, I hope you and your family are all well <3

      Delete

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Hi, I'm Liyana

I'm a modest blogger based in Malaysia. Here on The Good Weekender, you can find journals of my evolving modest personal style, based on the art of looking casually stylish while still remaining modest, and doing it all on a budget.