I looked at my darling pets today and wondered “How much has my illness has impacted on them?” I know this sounds like a strange question but because I love them so I feel responsible for their happiness and life too. I look at their beautiful furry faces as they tuck in around me and I can’t help but realize the debt I owe them and the debt I will never be able to repay.
I didn’t (and then couldn’t) have children but my fur kids were never a consolation prize in my mind and heart. Never second best. I talk to them. I tell them everything. I call myself momma and to many people I am sure it is called ‘projecting’ or some psychological equivalent. But I don’t care. They are my family. They have been the only family I have had on so many occasions. I think you are getting a picture here.
Because I have life long diseases, it means that I have already had to mourn several fur kids and that is probably harder for me than grieving some people. My fur kids have never judged. They never mistrust. They never forget me. They never ignore me. They never ‘pretend’ to be anything other than what they are… compassionate, loving, loyal and committed souls. They are what every human being should strive to be; if only we would!
My largest dog has been my eyes when I couldn’t see, he would lead me to the toilet and then sit and wait. I would clutch his fur in my hands and say “back to bed” and he would lead the way. He is my protective guard. He also sat with me on the floor when I collapsed and couldn’t move. I think it was more like sat on me, but he did so without me asking and it helped my feelings of distress and quietened by heart. My cats are my constant reminders to love myself. To have a spirit of independence and self care no matter what the rest of the world thinks or does. My Cocker Spaniels remind me to always look have an open heart and see the “new” in the smallest of things. I am reminded of this when they sniff around the same piece of garden, everyday, as though they had never seen it before. No matter what the cats are doing, if they want to rest, they will rest anywhere, no matter where they are or what time of day it is. If its time, its time!
All the tools that I need to survive this life long battle I have learnt from my fur kids and I am forever in their debt. I even live for them when there are times I would rather give up. I know they need me around to feed them, pet them and give back the devotion that they show me every minute of the day.
There is only one lesson that they have not been able to teach me and it is the hardest lesson of all. I don’t know how to say goodbye to them. I know I will outlive many of them and that is the price I pay for receiving the greatest gift of all; their love.
It comes as such a shock to me that the world is only just starting to recognize the importance of animal companions and animals in general. We have hunted them, tortured them, violated them and done everything imaginable to not deserve a place on this planet. But they are forgiving. They are trusting. They do not judge. They do not mock and they do not criticize. They are everything that human beings are not and that is why I continue to adopt, rescue and adore every animal that I have the privilege to care for. That is what makes saying goodbye bearable, because I know that I must continue to care for those that have no voice. To be worthy of how they have saved me life on numerous occasions.
I think that if you have a life long battle, a life long disease and must go through the darkest and most painful times this world can hand you, then the best thing you can take with you is the love of a animal. There is no stronger medicine and it works for every disease or illness there is.
In loving memory and endless thanks,