In Loving Memory of Amber

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In Loving Memory of Amber

This post is written in memory of Amber Bador who passed away yesterday (Friday 15th, July, 2011) aged 16(?), peacefully on an operating table…

It may seem weird that I’m writing about my cat in the context of “Think & Grow Rich”. However, as many of you know, there is always a point to my posts (and a valuable insight to be shared).

As I write this post today it is, in part, a way of catharsis… but also, I hope, this will be useful to those of you who “fear death” or have even recently lost a loved one.

To others, I write this post as a reminder to treasure and value those you love

Emptiness: The Hole in the Whole

The day reflects my mood and, looking out over to where Amber is buried, the heavens weep and the rain falls…

As I begin to write this I am reminded that, usually around this time, I would be giving Amber her lunch. Today, her bowl is empty as is her litter tray. Today, my heart feels a little emptier as I realise that I actually loved “that cat” more than I would ever admit…

That Cat

I say “that cat” because, technically, Amber was never really “my cat”. When we purchased the property the previous occupants asked us if we would take care of the 2 grown cats (Amber and her sister Mina) while they settled up north and found new accommodation for them. A few weeks later, we received a phone call asking if we would like to keep them. As it transpired, the last occupant was pregnant and her partner was severely allergic to them.

By this time, my ex-wife and children had grown accustomed to both cats and loved having them around. While do I like cats, I’m not fond of keeping animals… but it was a different time and my kids and my ex were determined that we should keep them. I reluctantly agreed.

Over time we became accustomed to having them about the place. Thankfully, they accepted us as we accepted them (cat’s choose You!). They became members of our family. When it came to the cats, Mina would spend a lot of time with me while Amber was always more of my ex-wife’s cat..

A Source Of Disagreement & Burden

A few years ago, my ex-wife and I separated. For a very long time, both cats became a source of disagreement between us and were the cause of many arguments. When my ex left, she moved into accommodation that did not allow pets and so I became “lumbered” with animals that I didn’t particularly want.

There were many reasons why I didn’t want to have pets around. They were extra mouths to feed. They cost money to maintain – especially when they get ill. Having cats always made me feel like it restricted what I could do – especially when travelling abroad.

Also, both cats hadn’t been properly trained by the previous owner and, Amber especially, would often do a “dirty protest” just outside her litter tray if she was upset or angry. Of the two cats, Amber was always the one to find interesting places to remind me of where she’d just been. During this time of separation, I often felt like Amber (having been more of my ex-wife’s cat) was deliberately testing my patience as I cleaned up after her…

Remembering The Good Times

After her sister Mina passed away a few years ago, my relationship with Amber changed. While not perfect, she did learn to use the litter tray more often than not. However, our relationship always seemed like a constant battle with me trying to re-train an ageing cat and her rejecting my dominance and authority. On days when she wanted to object, she would leave something in the bath rather than her tray… Still, it was better there than by the front door as had previously been the case…

Don’t get me wrong. We did have good times too…

Beautiful Girls: Amber and Mina

Often, during the very dark days of my separation, Amber learned how to be a “lap cat” (as Mina had once been to me). She would sit with me during my bleakest moments and be there as a companion. The times when I would crash out on the sofa, I would often find her cuddling up and just being there for me. Anyone who’s every been through the pain of separation will know exactly what I mean when I say: “you discover who your real friends are”. I am and will always be grateful that Amber was there when it felt like there really was no-one else during those times… she helped to keep me strong when it felt like nothing else was going right.

Amber always loved getting combed out. Tapping her flea-comb on the garden table outside, she always eagerly jumped up so that we could spend some quality time together while she was groomed, deflead, given a quick massage and made to feel special. While there were times that I felt it was a chore to do, secretly, I loved those moments with her – out in the sunshine, listening to her purring loudly…

Cat Therapy

Like a member of any family, Amber and I had disagreements. And as I mentioned before, recently she did become a source of a major argument between me and my ex-wife. Just like people argue over “the kids”…

However, I am fortunate to have a good friend who is also an NLP Master Practitioner. After this one particularly heated argument, my friend helped me to realise that my feeling of being “lumbered” (with the cat) was actually part of a deep-rooted pattern of behaviour I’d been playing out for a very long time.

In a funny way, Amber actually helped me to clear out something that had been holding me back, since childhood. I shall always be grateful to Amber for this – without her “being a nuisance” I would probably never have realised and changed my negative patterns of behaviour. Thankfully, my relationship with both Amber and my ex-wife changed after this.

While it would have been simpler to give Amber away to a loving family, there was the emotional aspect of my “little” girl that had to be considered – she really loved Amber. When I’d explained that I really need help looking after the cat, she would do her best to look after Amber on the days she was over at mine. With my daughter’s help and having had some therapy around feeling “lumbered”, I felt okay with her being around and often enjoyed Amber’s company.

Losing Clarity: When Things Went Bad

About a month or so ago, Amber managed to scratch her eye. My ex helped to take Amber to the vets – after all, it was the least she could do as Amber had always been more of “her” cat. She also knew how much my daughter cared about Amber and I think she also acknowledged and appreciated how much time, effort and money I’d spent on the cats over the years.

After taking her to the vets, we were given some eye cream to try and help it heal. Anyone who’s tried putting cream in a cat’s eye will probably know what it’s like – it’s a struggle and a fight and usually you’ll come away worse than they do!

Anyway, the cream didn’t help much. More often than not, the cream wouldn’t make it into her eye but around it. As a consequence, her eye started to swell. Recently, Amber started going off her food. In the last couple of weeks, she would drink water but not really eat. So again with the help of my ex, we took Amber to the vet again.

We received some bad news: we were told that Amber would need to have an operation to remove her eye. She was booked in for an emergency operation.

The End in Sight

Yesterday was the day of her operation. My ex-wife came and took Amber to the vets while I took my kid’s to school. Around 11ish, I received a phone call. My ex-wife was distraught and in tears.

She explained that, as the Vet was about to begin the operation, they’d found a massive incurable cancer in Ambers throat. The Vet had explained that, even if they did remove Amber’s eye, then she would still have to come back a few weeks later to have the cancer removed. Not only was Amber in pain due to her eye but also because of her throat. And so, the decision made that it was more humane and better that she should be allowed to be let go peacefully, while she was still sedated…

Grief

We collected the kids from school early so that we could pick Amber up from the vets. Surprisingly, my little boy was quite overwhelmed by the news. He’s never really been a “cat person” (or animal person) but his grief was a mixture of Amber’s passing and the knowledge of how his sister and I would feel. It made me realise that I am extremely fortunate to have raised children who are able to empathise and care about people and the world around them.

The scene at my daughter’s school was surreal. As she appeared, my ex-wife approached her as I watched, having a cigarette by the car. My boy was in tears and I could hear him quietly sobbing and blowing his nose. From a distance, I could see the expression on my daughter’s face change from the beautiful smile she had to one of heartbreaking sadness and then turning away in grief…

Saying Goodbye

Not much was said in the car as we drove to collect Amber from the vets. We drove back with Amber’s body wrapped in a blanket and held on to by my daughter. Back at my place, we all took turns to stroke and hold Amber, one last time – just to acknowledge her passing – before we buried her in the garden. Wrapped in a blanket together with her cat food spoon, her favourite flea comb and a piece of Lego (that my boy hope’s she will play with when she gets to the other side…).

I think it was quite fitting that, unlike today, yesterday was very sunny and the sun smiled on us as we buried her. Amber now lies just above her sister Mina in my back garden. Coincidentally, this spot was always one of her favourite places for her to sit during hot summer days – I’m not sure if she knew that it was the place where her sister was buried…

I am glad that she no longer suffers or is in pain. We estimated that she would probably have been around 16 years old (we never really knew how old the cats were when we got them), so she has had quite a long life. I am also grateful that, even if it were only for a few hours, my family (including my ex) were united in our grief and paid respects to a cat that we all loved.

Personally, I am surprised at how much I will miss her and how much I cried yesterday – there had once been time when I only thought of her as a “hinderence” and as a problem. But we have been through a lot together and in recent times I did actually get to really love her and care about her (instead of thinking of her as “just the cat”).

We will miss her and the place will never be the same without her… And, while she may “only have been a cat”, Amber will always be remembered because she helped to enrich our lives with her warm, furry presence and loud purring…

Overcoming Grief

For those of you who have been reading this and may also be grieving a loved one, I would like to offer a few words that I hope may be of some comfort.

In my garden is a cherry tree (and the graves of 2 cats). Cherries were always something that my father used to love to eat. I often find myself talking with my father and in this way, I remember him and know that he is still with me…

It is in our Memory that your loved ones will always remain and will still be alive to you. How you remember those that you’ve loved – the good and the bad times – are as real to you now, in your memory, as when you lived them. In this way, the people that you love are always carried in your heart and will forever be with you…

It is okay to grieve. It is natural to mourn the passing of someone dear to you. For a while, it may seem like the emptiness will never be filled but, in time, something new will grow in it’s place. Not as a replacement but simply in that nature abhors a void – the growth of something new is inevitable – I would recommend that you can now begin to sow new seeds and, if possible, use this period of change to plant something powerful and positive. Remember that those who have passed and once loved you, would want the best for you and for you to be happy.

Overcoming The Fear Of Death

Life and death are part of the same cycle. Just as you cannnot have “yes” without a “no” or a “north” without a “south”. They are part and parcel of the same thing.

Death is natural and, as such, there it is no cause for concern. All of the atoms in the Universe are part of the same substance – whether you realise it or not, the energy of the one you loved still exists, albeit in another form. If you have a fear of death, then simply realise that even after you “die”, you will still be here.

If you do have a fear of death, then is it really “Death” you fear or how it comes about? I am fortunate in that I’ve faced death 3 times and survived. In each case, the circumstances were different, yet the powerful and positive idea that I took away (when I finally realised the message these events were trying to tell me!) is simply: “it isn’t Death that you fear… but actually living life“.

I would suggest you just let go of the fear by focusing on how to live a better life! Keep in your mind the idea that you want to live and those old fears will begin to fade away…

A Beautiful Reframe

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I would like to thank you to allow me to indulge myself and to express my grief. Unlike other “self development” websites, it is my belief that Life is not always rosy, cheery and positive. I do not delude myself that other’s should always act as if the world is a happy place… there are times when it is not.

It is through our most trying and difficult times that we discover our true strength. It is only by facing our adversities and having the courage to rise up and confront our most challenging times that we become stronger.

In conclusion, I would like to leave you with a thought and an action:

“How will people think of you when you pass away?
Will they remember you with fondness and kind memories…?”

While you may not have known Amber, I hope this post will serve as a reminder to those of us who remain that: “Life is Short”. You can never be sure when we will be called away or when our loved ones will leave this mortal coil.

As an action, I would urge you to take some time to show those you love that you do really love them. Tell them and let them know… I know that, if I had a chance, I would’ve liked to have been kinder and a little less mean to Amber when she’d been a “nuisance”.

If I had known yesterday what tragedy was to come, then I would probably have given her a huge hug and spent a bit more time having a furry cuddle. It’s a shame that we never really value what we have until it’s taken away..

For you and the people around you, it’s not too late. I hope for your sake you take my advice.

As I conclude, I look out across my garden and the rain has now stopped…

Category: Love

8 Responses to In Loving Memory of Amber

  1. Robin says:

    Zain,
    I am so sorry in the loss of your beautiful kitty, Amber. Losing a pet is devastating, I have lost a few over the years. I am sure you showed Amber lots of love over the years. My thoughts are with you…..

  2. Wow, once again you have tugged on my heart strings. For that I’m very graitful

    Loave

  3. kathleen says:

    one word about the story of Amber- “beautiful”

    • Zain says:

      Thanks Kathleen! She certainly was… and will forever be “beautiful”. As well as her sister Mina.

      I hope this post helps people to remember and appreciate all of the “beautiful” people in their lives too!

      Cheers,

      Zain

  4. krista says:

    I lost my kitty in Feb of this year,he was hit by a car, i understand the loss and the tears shed,i still cry over him. I think its because he was so easy to love & he came into my life at a very trying time. Its important to remember the good times that we have with those put into our lives, i think it reminds us to love & enjoy today,thanks for sharing

    • Zain says:

      Krista, I’m very sorry for your loss. As you know, I understand what that feels like… and the reason I wrote this post was simply as a reminder (mainly to myself) that it’s so easy to just take the people we love and care about for granted.

      Remembering the good times certainly does help to ease the pain. And it’s okay to shed a tear and cry – that just means that you loved someone enough to remember them!

      Personally, I do still “talk” to Amber (and also my father) when I’m out in my garden (yeah, it’s a bit nuts… but I really find it helps as it’s like they’re still here!). If anything, by doing so, it also helps to remind me to try and do nice things for people who are still alive and around me.

      Yes – I completely agree: “enjoy today”. Instead of the pointless arguing and bickering, why not spend time showing people we care about that… well, we *actually* care about them? Share your joys with them and there’ll be more good times to remember them by in the future…

      Cheers,

      Zain

  5. Dutchterri says:

    I love animals and understand perfectly how you feel. Animals have hearts and souls. They know what you think, and they are faithful no matter what. I am sorry about Amber. Thanks for your website it is brilliant and helpful.

    Take care and thank you.
    DutchTerri

    • Zain says:

      Hi Dutchterri,

      Thank you for your kind words… although I’m not sure how faithful Amber was – there was a time when I was *really* tired and didn’t get up in time to feed her… so she decided to wee on my head just to remind me. I think she was more faithful to her empty stomach first! But then, that’s cats for you ;)

      (Oh, and I sent you an email – did you receive it? Check junk folder?)

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