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March 23, 2021

My Pet Healed my Depression & Now He’s Passed Away.

This past Wednesday, my cat, Moxie Clyde, passed away suddenly.

There was no warning. No prior health issues. And, he was only eight years young.

Nonetheless, over the course of three long hours, he was diagnosed with a blood clot, congenital heart disease, and crackling in his lungs. By the time we had reached the emergency veterinarian services, Moxie had lost the blood flow to his legs, causing them to become cold to the touch and limp, forcing him to crawl using only his front paws.

This past week has been hard.

There’s so much silence in my home: an emptiness that fills the spaces that he used to fill by jumping up beside me on the couch, greeting me at the door, and rubbing up against me each morning as we woke. These days, I get to eat my meals without him sitting at my feet, pawing at me, petting me with his face in a bid to get a share (a lion’s share if you ask me) of my human food. Some of his favorites were expected, like tuna fish, while others were random, like ice cream and marshmallow fluff. Of course, I always caved into him.

You see, I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for him, and so being the one to watch him pass away, first felt ironic and unexpected.

A few years ago, Moxie laid with me when I was sick. He slept on my chest when I had stopped eating. He kept watch over me when I could no longer watch over myself. He filled me with feelings of love and connection when I had felt isolated from everyone in my life. He was a light in a dark depressive episode.

There is something about the love of an animal that has the potential to heal human brokenness.

Moxie saw me through a time in my life when I was extremely sick. He became a lifeline that kept me tethered to this world. He was the reason I decided to stay alive knowing that he needed me; knowing that I alone had been the only family he had ever known; knowing that I knew the mischief he liked getting into and the secret games he liked to play.

I had known he needed me. But only now realize that I had needed him more.

Being able to spend this past year at home quarantined with him was a blessing in disguise. I can look back and say that I truly appreciated those moments with him, having felt gratitude fill my heart for him each day.

As I write this, the tears are flowing. But, this must be said. We need to talk about our furry family members, the way they burrow themselves deep into our hearts, and the way we grieve their loss.

Upon sharing the news of his passing with friends, family, and via a memorial on social media, I wasn’t sure that people would understand or “get” the depth of the role he played in my life.

To my surprise and satisfaction, I was inundated with phone calls, texts, and comments expressing support and love. One friend went so far as to send acai bowls while another sent me a beautiful hallmark condolence card. These acts of kindness were a salve to the aching.

Thank you for not judging me. Thank you for honoring my grief, the loss, and my broken-heartedness at this time. I have been humbled by the outpouring of empathy and compassion.

Most profoundly, it was the words of my “no-diet” dietitian that helped me to find some solace. After sharing my connection to Moxie with her, she said that maybe Moxie had fulfilled his purpose in my life. Perhaps, he had guarded over me for the eight years that I had needed him most—a guardian angel that saw me through hell and got me to higher ground to the person I am today.

Looking back, I would frequently catch Moxie staring at me from all possible locations and vantage points around the apartment; somehow, his eyes always made his way to mine.

Behind those eyes, he was looking deeper—searching to see whether I had become strong enough, resilient enough, and bold enough to continue on this journey without him.

And on the day of his passing, perhaps he saw that I was finally ready.

~

A few more photos of Moxie:

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