On Friday September 1st we lost our precious Gracie. My beloved feline I treasured and knew longer than I’ve even known my husband.
Rarely do I make extremely person blog posts like this, I just don’t think it’s something anyone cares to read about. However, after sharing with so many of you on Instagram over the past few weeks I felt the desire to jot out my feelings and share as I think it will help my coping process.
No one wants to lose a pet. But losing pets is inevitable if you are a pet owner. Rarely do pets outlive their owners except if there is an elderly owner, a sudden human passing, or I suppose if you have a parrot or tortoise they could outlive you. But for the standard dog or cat, it’s pretty uncommon.
I have lost pets in the past – both cats and dogs. Most recently, before losing Gracie, was losing my childhood dog Jack who we adopted when I was in middle school. Jack passed away two years ago at around 12 years old and was blind and diabetic. Nearly a decade ago we lost the dog we got when I was a toddler, she had been diagnosed with cancer a few months before passing. Those passings were anticipated, I’m not saying they didn’t hurt, but we knew. At one point we had gone to the vet months before their passings and had warnings that the end was near. Gracie’s situation wasn’t like that.
I had adopted Gracie in 2015, I had recently started my senior year of high school and I was 17 years old. My sister took me to adopt her and somehow I hid it from my mom for weeks my Dad on the other hand was clueless about Gracie until I moved to Florida in 2017. When I got her they really didn’t know much about her; they didn’t know who brought her there, how old she was, or what her previous living situation was. Oh, and her name was Tallulah – a name the shelter had given her. They estimated she was around 3-4 years old, but I think she was probably 5-6. I picked her and brought her home, and after that it became pretty clear to me that she was likely abused as she wanted nothing to do with humans.
The first few years I had her she hid most of the time, but I’d always feel her crawl up into my bed in the middle of the night and lay by my feet. She didn’t really come out of her shell until I moved to Florida in 2017. While she was still timid – she wouldn’t sit on our laps or be held willingly – she started begging for our human food, lounging with us, etc. Over the years she became more and more comfortable with us, and eventually guests we’d have over.
Last year around this time Gracie had a seizure-like episode that was extremely scary to witness. We took her to the vet and got things checked a few times regarding those episodes, but they said she was in the clear. At the start of this year we began to give Gracie wet food more often as she had a few teeth pulled in 2021 (vet said it was not to our fault, just genetic) and eating dry food was getting harder for her. Around that time they vet noticed some significant weight loss. She had lost weight previously but we had assumed it was because we moved from a standard apartment to a townhome like rental with stairs – so now she was going up and down throughout the day. But the weight loss this year seemed different. And additionally, she kept getting sinus infection symptoms so she had been on steroid multiple times this year.
This summer Gracie had been prescribed an inhaler – not shown to be a big deal by the vets. They basically decided the sinus infections were asthma episodes, so we were happy to get some answers. In July Gracie went in for standard teeth cleaning where they put animals under. When we picked her up she was extremely dizzy and “loopy” – her tongue was even hanging out of her mouth. She struggled to eat for a few days after but the doctors said that was normal. Reflecting back on the experience, she never really went back to normal after that. However, we didn’t think too much into it as the doctors showed no concerns so we figured it would regulate itself out.
When we went to Hawaii we had a pet sitter come as per usual; visit daily to give her what she needed and check in on her. She was very antisocial so never wanted to play or anything, even with Grant or me. When we got back we noticed she was incredibly swollen and we took her to the vet that Sunday for some diarrhea she had while we were gone. The doctor gave her some medicine and basically said she probably just missed us or something. Her swelling wasn’t getting better with the medicine so we made an appointment for Friday to follow up.
Thursday came and Grant and I were going through our normal morning routine, about to head to the gym. Right as we were heading out the door Gracie laid on her side and let out a long and sad meow. Grant and I looked at each other and instantly burst into tears. We both knew.
While no doctor had guessed this, and not once that week had either of us thought that’s where she was headed, in that moment we both knew. We grabbed her and rushed to the vet as fast as we could – Grant held her while I drove. The first time she had ever been in a car without a carrier as she was too weak to put up a fight.
We got to the vet, they put us in a room, and we cried and cried. She was still with us, but we knew there was no way we would walk back out with her in our arms. The vet came in basically speechless. She said we could take her home but she wasn’t sure how long she’d have. Grant and I decided we’d prefer to not take her home as we didn’t want to find her passed away there. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do and verbalize, but I know it was what she needed. She was tired. I had never seen her look so unlike herself. She passed in Grant’s arms as I couldn’t bare to be in the same room and watch.
The rest of the day we cried. Being at home – the new home we just bought this spring where she loved hopping window to window throughout the day – was and is still so empty. It feels so empty without her here. I truly don’t know how I will go the rest of my life without her. She was and is my whole life and heart. I still cry daily thinking about her. Just whenever I think I am over it I am not. I wish I knew when this feeling would go away, but I also don’t want to forget her.
If you’ve ever lost a pet, you know these feelings. The mix of emotions. The denial. The feeling they’re just in another room or away somewhere. The thinking that you hear them. The guilt – for us thinking we had just been gone for two weeks on a trip. But I think she had waited for us. And I’m so grateful she did.
The image in this post I am so thankful for. Last year I did a photoshoot for work with Heather Tabacchi. Gracie had just had her seizures and I mentioned it to Heather and she insisted I bring Gracie for just a few pictures. I am so grateful I did. These images fill my heart when I look at them, and I will cherish them forever.
Thanks for reading.