I take part in a weekly linkup called Ten Things of Thankful which is like a gratitude journal, except that multiple people do it and you get to read about all the wonderful things that they’re thankful for besides yourself!
I decided to join this linkup as a way of reminding myself how lucky I am, which can sometimes be difficult when life throws you a curve ball or two. If you’d like to find out more about the linkup, or join in, then you can click on the image below.
These past couple of weeks it’s not been easy for me to be grateful. Only in my post on New Year’s Eve was I talking about how Charlie’s (my cat) health had been better in 2017 and that I hoped to have him for a few more years.
Sadly on New Year’s Day we had to make the decision to have Charlie put to sleep. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve never felt pain like this before, and that it has hurt more than losing some family members. That’s not to diminish the love I have for the family who have passed on, but I had (have) a very deep love and connection to Charlie.
He was the first (and only) cat I’ve ever had. At the moment I’m grieving and processing my relationship with Charlie. Some people may think that a weird thing to say. They may say things like “He was just a cat” or “Just get another one”, and I think such people, sadly, have never had the opportunity to have the special bond that exists between a human and their pet. I don’t want children, so my pets are my children and are incredibly important to me.
This Ten Things of Thankful is dedicated to Charlie and how enriched my life is from having had him in it.
Where did it all start?
I’d never been a ‘cat person’. I’d always found them rather ‘aloof’, but that was based on the handful of cats I’d met over the years. In 2009 my first husband said he wanted to get a cat; I wasn’t keen but agreed nonetheless. We went to the local rescue centre and Charlie was the cat who stepped forward when we waited to see if any approached us. As my first husband worked a lot of late nights, Charlie would often come and sit on my lap as I worked on the computer or watched television.
When my marriage broke down Charlie was a great comfort. He’d sleep next to me on the bed and he’d nuzzle my head if I was upset. He’d wait on the stairs when I came in from work. I was so grateful when my first husband asked if I could take Charlie with me when I moved out as he was away too often with work.
Charlie the ‘healer’
I remember an insurance man came over once I’d moved into my own house. I knew the man already, but Charlie hadn’t met him before. As he sat down on my sofa Charlie stared at him. I warned the man that his black suit may get covered in fur; he laughed and said he was fine. As predicted, Charlie jumped onto the man’s lap and made himself comfortable. I found it touching that by the end of our conversation the man said he’d lost his cat a while ago and that Charlie had got him thinking about getting another 🙂
Charlie the ‘bruiser’
The lady at the cattery where I used to take Charlie described him as a ‘bruiser’. “If he was a man…”, she said “…he’d be one to have a few pints down the pub and then come home to sit in front of the television”. I liked that image. Charlie loved nothing more than eating and sleeping. He only ever roamed away from home once and arrived back the next morning looking shattered; he never left the garden again. He was a big-built cat who would ‘swagger’ and hardly ever broke into a run; that would exert far too much energy!
Charlie the ‘big brother’
Just over three years’ ago we brought another child into the household; Cookie the dog. We deliberately got a puppy so that she knew Charlie was boss! Charlie was understandably wary of this little whirlwind and she got a few swipes over the years. However, there was one occasion where she had an abscess and was in pain. I remember Charlie walking straight up to her and sniffing her. He didn’t swipe at her; he knew she wasn’t well and seemed concerned. On another occasion my husband said he saw Charlie walk up to Cookie and lick her on the nose; she was petrified!
Likewise, whenever we brought Charlie home from the cattery or the vets, as soon as he was out of his box Cookie was wagging her tail and sniffing him. I’ve no doubt they loved each other in their own way.
Charlie the ‘helper’
On the numerous occasions that I’d be doing university work, Charlie had no qualms about getting onto my lap leaving me no choice but to move my laptop! As part of an analysis I did for my thesis I had to cut up information on bits of paper and spread them on the floor; Charlie was on hand once again to assist me by sitting on the bits of paper. Wrapping Christmas presents was also interesting as Charlie would plonk himself down on the wrapping paper and look quite perturbed when I moved him. I remember one Christmas he even tried eating the sellotape while I was wrapping the presents!
Charlie the ‘sun-worshipper’
Charlie loved to be outside in the garden, more so in the summer, of course! There were different places he liked to position himself; under one of the bushes, on top of the wall, and on our garden table! If he got too warm he’d move to the paved area near the house for some shade. If we decided to get the sun loungers out then Charlie wouldn’t hesitate to get on either of our laps. A hot cat on your lap on a hot day isn’t ideal, but I’d leave him be most of the time as I wanted him to be comfortable!
Charlie the ‘softy’
Charlie was a volatile cat when I first got him. He was wary of men and had lashed out at me a few times, no doubt through fear. It took some time for him to trust my second husband, but over the years he mellowed hugely and loved nothing more than to settle down with us or on the nearest available lap if we had friends round.
Charlie loved to be fussed and even had a routine for the fussing. In the mornings he’d make a beeline for my husband’s lap, regardless of whether or not my husband’s lap had a bowl of cereal on it. Needless to say the bowl was moved and Charlie would make himself comfortable. In the evenings Charlie tended to settle on my lap or sit behind me at the top of the sofa (nearest the radiator!). He would happily settle on the floor while my husband brushed him; he loved to be pampered.
For all these things, and much much more, I’m so grateful to have had Charlie in my life; we both are. Having assumed that all cats were pretty disinterested in their owners, Charlie taught me that cats are actually incredibly loving creatures. I know that Charlie loved my husband and I, and we loved him in return; no strings on either side.
Charlie showed me that I have the capacity to love deeply and that, as painful as it can be, there is a ‘right time’ to say goodbye and act selflessly for the best interests of another. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but I did it because I love Charlie so much.
Thank you, Charlie, for all you taught me. Sleep well, beautiful boy xxxxx