So it goes…

When I finally got off my keister and started blogging (something I’d casually talked about for a long while), I never imagined that by only post two I would be one of “those people” who blogs about the death of a pet. So it goes.

Nor did I anticipate when I wrote the tag for my first post that there would actually seem to be a theme established that would connect with the subject of the second. I apologize, therefore, for the “cheese factor” that results. I sincerely hope the trend stops here.

This morning at about 2:30am eastern time my cat companion of 16 years Pepe (named after Pepe le Peu, but not because she smelled at all like him) — a talkative, cuddly, sometimes bitchy (she was my cat after all) seal-point Siamese mix (meaning she had the gorgeous coloring, blue eyes, and constant chatting tendency without the funky angular head shape and anorexic body shape of the “purebred” Siamese) — died. We don’t really know from what — other than general complications of being old when bodies just decide to shut down.

And though I like to say I’m one of those people who’s OK with not knowing things (which, of course, doesn’t mean I don’t try like crazy to learn them), I find I’m having difficulty with not knowing the why. As a result I find myself questioning anything and everything — did she have some sort of reaction to her new catnip toy? Was there something funky in the latest batch of kitty treats? Did my reporting of a problem with her leg at our first visit to the vest on Saturday throw them off their diagnosis so they didn’t notice whatever killed her just a bit more than 24 hours later? Did I not notice something I should have even earlier than that? Is this all her way of punishing me for not buying her something fancy for Christmas? (yes, this Atheist celebrated Christmas — because I don’t really think it has much of anything to do with the birth of any particular person anymore either in society in general or in how it is celebrated in my home. I’m sure there will be plenty of time to talk about all that later…)

This is all, I’m sure, my way of dealing with my grief (that and blogging instead of sleeping while watching home improvement shows on cable. Who knew there were so darn many paid programs on this time of the morning? Thank goodness Discovery Home actually has programming!)

It is occasions such as this that are about the only time I envy people with religious leanings (indeed, aren’t these occasions precisely why most religions have such traction and see conversions around times of grief?). It would be so much easier, I imagine, if I believed “this was meant to be” or “it was just her time” or “she’s gone to a better place” (do people believe in pet heaven?). Instead, I’m left with the simple fact that we don’t know why — and will never know why — but she is dead. She is no longer here. She is gone. So it goes…

And though I don’t know the why, I do find that this has taught be something. (Schmaltz alert!!!) There’s never enough time. No matter who or what we love (or like or even have a slight fondness for) — there is never enough time to spend together. Never enough to mean that, when the time is over, we feel like we’ve done everything we wanted and needed to do.

This probably sounds rather pessimistic, but that is not my intent. Indeed, I find it to be highly potentially positive. There is never enough time — so what matters most is what we do with it. We need to make the time to be with those people/animals/whatever and do those things that are important in those relationships. We need to figure out what is really important to us, and then do that without all the extra crap that gets in the way. And though, in the end, we’ll still feel we could have done more if we’ve done what we can and tried where we should, we can be confident in that.

So, I will still wonder and regret and grieve, but I’ll also remember that two days ago she was standing on my hair and walking on my end table to try to wake me up to giver her cat treats. And earlier this week she spent most of the day snuggling me — a day when my current cold was hitting me particularly hard and what I really needed was a small furry thing to cuddle. And a week ago she was laying under the Christmas tree batting at the cloth ornaments that Pkin and I intentionally hung there so she could play with them. And even earlier tonight/this morning, before I decided we needed to take her back to the animal hospital, that I held her and petted her and — if only for a little while — she rested in my arms and purred.

Goodbye, Pepe. You will be deeply missed. So it goes…

My girl loves her some ornament (Yes, she’s biting the stuffed cat)!

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2 Comments

Filed under atheism, pets, religion

2 responses to “So it goes…

  1. marie, my heartfelt condolences to you on losing your cat that was your companion for 16 long years! it is always sad to lose somebody with whom we had a good relationship for a long time. and that sometimes creates a big void, that we may not want to fill up and want to leave it just like that. and Time somehow closes that void slowly…………….

    belief in god is surely a big source of strength, not only in death, even in life. perhaps atheists draw their strength from within themselves. it is fine as long as they have firm self-belief. but due to any reason if they were to lose that self belief, it is then that they feel lost and supportless. could it be their ego that comes inbetween their wanting to believe and remaining a non-believer? perhaps you can throw some light upon this. thanks.

  2. I think Atheism is actually far more complex than your comment would seem to indicate (and, indeed, than most religious people believe).

    First, strength can come from a vast array of places beyond self and god. I was Catholic for much of my youth (even wanted to be a nun at one point), so I absolutely understand that many people draw strength and comfort from that faith (indeed, this is certainly evidenced by the number of people who become religious or more religious when faced with difficulty).

    Many Atheists surely do draw strength from themselves, but we also draw it from our relationships with other people, other living things, nature, and the world around us. As a result, a loss of self-strength need not have any impact whatsoever on our beliefs.

    Additionally, sometimes we draw strength from our beliefs themselves. This is part of why I think it is so important to recognize that Atheists are not absent belief — we have very strong beliefs that we are very invested in.

    For example, when I had my little run in with my extended family (referenced in my About page) it started as a result of a fairly common insult leveled by religious people at Atheists (no belief in god = evil. We won’t get into my view, shared by many Atheists that there is no such thing as “evil.” Perhaps for a later post). This was placed on our family website as a form of “motivational message” for the family, assuming everyone shared the same religious beliefs. I then pointed out the offensive nature of the comment.

    Through the course of a fairly heated discussion, including a good deal of intentional censorship of my views and those of people who supported me (note, I did not post again during that conversations as I intentionally stayed away for the weekend so I wouldn’t just get ticked off. The debate was between my supporters — regardless of religious affiliation or not — and those who did not acknowledge or accept my right to my beliefs).

    Now, I come from a fairly large, yet very tightly knit family, so these insults and attacks were a major trial when I needed comfort and strength. Where I drew my strength during this time was from my wonderful DM, my immediate family (who supported me though they don’t all agree with me), and from the simple fact that I believed in the non. I have no doubt that my beliefs are correct (just as those who believe in god are certain of their beliefs) and I refuse to compromise my beliefs because people don’t like them. My beliefs galvanized me.

    Your latter comment, though, carries with it some very large assumptions. You ask if it is our egos that comes between our “wanting to believe” and our remaining a non-believer. First and foremost, this assumes that we “want” to believe in a god. This could not be further from the truth. I seriously doubt that there are many people at all out there who declare themselves Atheists yet have a desire to believe in a god. (Why would someone who had such a desire intentionally subject themselves to the sorts of insults, judgments, and attacks Atheists receive? Survey after survey shows we are some of the most despised people in this country and many others).

    Most people who actually do want to believe in a god but find themselves challenged to believe that identify as something else — whether agnostic or questioning or searching or just plain not sure.

    You also assume Atheists are nonbelievers. That is not true. It is true that we do not have a belief in the same thing as religious people, however we most certainly do believe, and quite strongly, that there is no god. As such, we do not walk any line between wanting to believe and being a nonbeliever. We do believe and are believers — we openly embrace that the world and all the beautiful, wonderful people and things in it (and, of course, the terrible and horrible as well) exist because they do. They do not exist because they were created, but because circumstances combined in such a meaningful way as to enable this all to occur.

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