I used to awaken in the middle of the night sometimes, and when I did, I would look over and see Slick sleeping soundly next to me. Sometimes she would be on my pillow, and on chilly nights, she would be under the covers snuggled behind my knees. If not next to me, she would always be somewhere close by.
She’s not there anymore.
After 18 years of being my constant companion, she has left this world and returned to her Creator’s world of spirit.
I am deeply grateful that I was gifted with her presence for so long. Nonetheless, I am really kind of lost without her.
Not the “I’m not able to function” kind of lost. Not the wandering about aimlessly kind of lost.
The “I lost my sweet girl Slick” kind of lost.
Yeah. You know what I am talking about. It is indescribable – only felt.
When a pet leaves us, we try to cheer ourselves with stories of the Rainbow Bridge and other tales of perfect bliss that could come to an animal. Who knows what really happens?
All I know is that there is still a deep connection between human and animal that does not die.
Slick came to me after being rescued from a riverbed where an oil spill had sullied the waters. I imagine that her perfect bliss would somehow involve trees and grass and clean rolling waters.
But the thing she enjoyed the most was having her cheeks and chin scritched. I hope her heaven includes that somehow.
When the original Beezie passed on, I found comfort in the many paintings I had created of her through the years. I salved my grief over her loss by painting a wooden bridge and placing it over her grave.
When I lost Bub a year later, I buried him next to the bridge marking Beezie’s grave. Bub was Slick’s best buddy, and was never quite replaced for her by any of the cats in my current brood.
I buried Slick’s body next to the bridge as well. The small cemetery is in Dellroy, OH behind a cabin in which we once lived. Although I do not live there now, my previous landlord has kept it undisturbed, and he welcomed me to bury Slick there.
I don’t know if it makes any real difference, but it does comfort me to know that they are all together again.
I have painted many commemorative pet portraits of animals that have left a hole in their humans’ hearts when they passed away. I always feel a deep responsibility when painting these portraits, because I know how very special it is to keep the memory of that relationship alive.
Now, I have had to take a taste of my own medicine. It is bittersweet, but the painting above, the last one that I painted of Slick while she was still alive, is the most wonderful thing in the world to me.
When I lost Beezie and then Bub, my world was crushed. I did not think I could get over it. What I learned over time was that I got through it, if not over it. New cats in my life did not replace the old ones, but they brought new joy to my world, and they comforted the pain.
Now, I look to the place where Slick used to sleep next to me, and it is empty. My other cats seem to respect that, for now, it should stay that way. But they have found their own places next to me, and they are bringing much comfort in their own ways.
Slick, I miss you so much my little girl. Brewskie, Okey, Noah and Who do too. We will make it, but you sure made our world wonderful, and it just is not the same without you.
We still love you and we always will.
Now go enjoy your next adventure, and make sure to meet us on the other side when it is our time.