The Place That I Didn’t Know Was Empty


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Full of empty.

OSLI didn’t make it.

On Tuesday we lent our cat carrier to the neighbors so that they could take him in to a shelter to have somebody look at his eye. For a few days I didn’t hear anything and was both afraid to ask and never quite contrived to run into the neighbors in passing to force myself to ask. OSLI had become, quite literally, Schrodinger’s Cat existing in a state of observational uncertainty, either alive or dead.

Last night there came a knock on the door and it was one of the neighbors returning the cat carrier. Empty. Of course, I mean it wasn’t like I expected them to return him to our doorstep, but never has an empty carrier felt so much like bad news.  I told myself not to jump to conclusions. We asked what happened to the cat? Oh, his eye, there was a tumor behind it that was pushing it out and they had to euthanize him.

She delivered the news as of she were passing on a message that belonged to someone else. I managed to take it like it was no big deal, which lasted until we got the door closed and then landed on my with full emotional force. The tumor diagnosis seemed like bullshit excuse: something too expensive to treat for a cat that nobody owned. It seemed like the kind of diagnosis one would give to someone who is looking for an excuse to “send him to a better place”, but I really can’t say for sure: I wasn’t there. It was the fact that I wasn’t there that eats at me the most. If there was something that could have been done, I wasn’t there to do it and if there truly was nothing to be done then I wasn’t there to be with him when he went.

After the news, I just wanted to curl up and go to bed, but it was too early. I tried to watch a show, a football game, a movie on demand, but my mind kept wandering back to the empty space where OSLI should have been in the world and I kept dissolving into tears. I kept thinking about the fact that I’d never need to refill his water dish. I’d never get to sit with him after going for my run. I’d never see him sunning himself on our patio. He’d never follow me around the complex on laundry day. He wouldn’t be on my doorstep anxious to come inside.  I know I’m still going to look for him under the bushes every morning and he was never going to be there ever again.

I’m discovering all these places that are empty now: the spot under the bushes, the top of the patio, the fifth step on the staircase to the second story, the parking lot just outside my bedroom window, the side walkway, etc. These were always unoccupied spaces- spaces between objects, negative spaces: they were always empty, but they never felt like they were missing anything before now.

Anyway, I’m still grieving more than a little bit. Yesterday I couldn’t even bear to put anything in words; there were just too many layers to what I was feeling for me to articulate any of them. There’s still quite a lot that I need to work through, but I needed to at least put the news in words. I haven’t had time to deal with the rest yet. We have company in town and I’m doing my best to make their visit as fun and exciting as possible without bringing death into it, but that doesn’t leave much time for contemplation or solitude. I can only hope that keeping busy will help me get used to the idea of the empty spaces so that when the time comes I’ll be able to face them in order to let go.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on October 25, 2015.

One Response to “The Place That I Didn’t Know Was Empty”

  1. Loss is always so sad. Sending love.

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