Ophelia- And The Distress of Accepting What's Beyond My Control
Updated: Jan 11, 2019
My Ophelia is gone.
I'm a hot-fucking-mess.
I am in mourning, a heavy, chest-punch pain that constricts with every thought of my sweet Oh-Oh Phelia.
Her prrrrrps, questioning meows and ‘happy to see you’ trills live strong in my memory, as does her crazy-assed spider crawl along the underside of the sofa, the cabinets and the stairs.
She had no problem for jumping into a bath with me, and even less fucks given for spring-boarding off of my head in the middle of the night. (my husband’s personal favorite of all her impressive talents.)
She loved chewing on my hair, closest to the scalp, naturally, and had an affinity for rubbing her teeth along my toes— yet I suspect she loved taking down two Christmas trees with her sisters even more.
December was a grueling slog of vet visits and horrific debt, a tale of worry that improved for Octavia, who was the first to fall ill from dietary indiscretion, and worsened for my Opie. December became January, and there was nothing more that we could do to save her.
Ophelia made it to January 7th, and then my daughters and I hugged, kissed and sang to her through our tears as we said goodbye.
She was not alone.
December 26th, she had been diagnosed with an esophageal stricture that was roughly 7mm in length and 6mm in diameter. (that’s really, really fucking narrow) Neither food or water could make it to her stomach, and the specialists couldn’t get a scope down her.
We opted to balloon, hoping at the time that it would be a 2-5 attempt procedure before she would be well ‘enough’ again.
They were never sure if she’d been born with a deformity that caused the collapse, or if she had ingested something that had created enough irritation and inflammation to cause the stricture… or a third possibility, that she’d reacted poorly to the prescriptions prescribed by a previous vet.
3 different vets had seen her.
No one knew what had caused the stricture.
I’ll never know.
And, it doesn’t really matter.
The procedure made the stricture worse, turning 7mm into 10mm of collapse length.
At that point, 2 procedures in, there was nothing we could do. The other options were nonviable for an active kitten.
Ophelia was 9 months old.
We brought her home, hoping, so much hoping that we could find a way to care for our special needs baby. We knew that she would never be normal again, that she would define for us her new normal, but that didn’t happen.
The first few days were good, as her esophagus was relaxed enough for her to consume wet food slurry, but soon enough, the hard swallowing began- the constant lip-smacking, the head shaking and the overall appearance of fatigue.
I tried to feed her, drops at a time, and she’d choke.
I’d cry, elevating her, rubbing her throat to assist her through the episode. She choked on her saliva, which triggered hyper-salivation and worsened the attack.
I didn’t want to say goodbye.
My daughters didn’t want to say goodbye.
But we couldn’t watch her starve, we couldn’t watch her suffer.
The morning we knew it was time, she didn’t look like herself.
She wasn’t acting like herself.
I was gutted.
Fuck, I'm still gutted.
The night before, she’d been purring and rolling against me while we cuddled. She’d bared her tummy, smushing her little triangle-face against my thigh.
She’d been playful, happy, her purr as loud as a motorcycle.
It’s hard, so fucking hard to say goodbye. With that decision to give her peace, comes an enormous weight of guilt, a burden that I’ve no right to decide who should live and who should die. Logically I understand completely that I’ve provided a kindness, a loving mercy… but it takes time for that feeling to catch up to what I can only determine as betrayal for the moment.
I love her entirely, and yet I feel as though I've somehow taken her for granted. I've no doubt that she loved me, loved our family, as she shadowed us all and doted with all of her heart.
Ophelia was such a spark, such a massive personality in a teeny-tiny-furry-frame.
Losing her is devastating, and I'll always live with wondering what else I could have done- but always hurt for what's beyond my control.
It's not fair.
It's not fucking fair.
And there's not a damn thing I can do about it.
We're all feeling it, and we're all coping and pushing through.
My girls and I seem to be tackling our grief with creative outlets. They sketch and paint, and I take to my words.
It helps- but the pain is raw, and it's sharp and it catches in my throat.
And I can't stop looking for her, that little triangle-face, poking out when she senses that I'm near.
I've survived denial, and anger comes and goes- bargaining and I, well, we like each other a lot. I can sense the depression lurking around the corner, but I'm doing my damnedest to dodge that asshole, willing that I can somehow find the strength in opening my heart to acceptance.
What's happened to Ophelia, and the effect that her death has had on me, on my family, I can't control any of that— and I'm lying to myself if I say that I ever could have.
I don't have to like it, but I do need to accept it.
Ophelia was a member of our family.
She's gone, but we won't stop loving, and we will never stop remembering.