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Monday, March 22, 2010

My Lion King Named Duke

Hi Boys and Girls:

I apologize for my absence. It was hard to formulate my thoughts or even talk about my common quilting projects or even give you recipes and pictures of food! You see, I lost my Lion King, my Duke.

One sunny morning, I found this little kitten on the patio cleaning himself and totally relaxed. This little guy acted like this was his place. I never got him off that patio for 15 years. What is totally ironic, Duke looked just like Rex who had died a few months earlier. I was still in mourning with Rex. I did not want another kitty...no one could replace Rex. However, I believe deep in my heart that God sent Duke to me because I was so unhappy. After all, how can you grieve with a little kitty licking your face or purring happily asleep in your arms?

So, Duke became part of my life and our household. Duke followed me everywhere. In the sewing room, Duke had to either be on the sewing machine while I am sewing or right next to it! He was either on my foot while my foot was under the sewing table or laying on the fabric while I was trying to cut it.

Duke inspected all fabric that came into the house. I created a rule: If Duke liked the fabric, I kept it. If Duke did not like the fabric, it usually got shoved into a cupboard and never cut! How did I know if he liked the fabric? That is easy! Duke was just like me and had to snuggle his face into the fabric...roll in in...sleep on it. OK, I did not go that far but you know how it goes when you fall in love with a fabric. It goes something like this: "Oh my gosh! I ADORE this fabric. Feel it! It feels like butter...it is so BEAUTIFUL!" And then the fabric is brought to my face so I can snuggle into it.

Duke loved to have his pink nose rubbed. He had the sweetest nose. He also loved to bump heads...my head with his head. I would lean down a bit and lower my head and he would bring his head up to mine. We would stay in that "kiss of the heads" for about 30 seconds. It was sort of like how Alaskans rub noses to show affection.

So why am I mourning the loss of my Duke? A lot of people would not understand the loss of a pet vs the loss of a human friend or family member. The grief is the same with the exception of public and private support. When a friend or family member dies, people send condolence cards, flowers, food and phone calls. There is a public display of support...at the funeral, grave site and home where everyone gathers to eat and remember the loved one who died with jokes, stories and toasts. But with a pet there is not that outward showing of sympathy. There may even be remarks like, "Just get over it. It was only a cat. You can get another one." I was fortunate no one said that to me.

The stages of grief are very similar as when losing a human. Denial.
For about 6 months I knew something was wrong but I did not want to admit it. I knew if I went to the vet with Duke, there would be something seriously wrong. Deep in my heart, I knew that to be true. Deniel later turned to guilt until the vet told me there was nothing that could have been done to save him.

Bargaining. I did not do much of that. Well, maybe I did. I asked God to just let him die in his sleep.

Anger. Yes, I was a bit angry that his life was ending after only 15 years. Little Crissy lived to be 20 so I thought Duke would live that long.

Sorrow and Sadness. Yes, I was sad. But I have to say my sorrow and sadness was a bit diminished with the help of my vet and staff. They were so kind! I did receive several cards of sympathy. That really lifted my spirits. I cannot thank them enough for thinking of me. Sorrow and sadness brings apathy. I didn't feel like cooking, taking pictures, quilting or other things that I love. I was depressed.

Resolution. I have accepted that Duke will not be greeting me at the door. It was good to bring him home from the vet and bury him in our backyard. Roberto made a nice coffin and I wrapped Duke in a small quilt. Roberto made a cross for the site. He is buried so I can see the cross every day from the kitchen window. It is ok to look at the cross now and remember what a really sweet cat Duke was.

My other two kitties were a little lost without Duke. Sinbad became very needy and seemed to want more snuggle time. This was not like him. Angie wanted to sleep really close to me every night so I let her. I have since read that this is not a good idea. When other pets mourn, they want more attention. If we give them more attention it never stops. So, I am guilty of giving in to my other kitties.

So, in closing, if you have lost a pet I know how you suffered. If you have not lost a pet but have lost anything you love, you have gone through the stages of grief. Don't deny your grief. When someone asks how you are, tell them the truth. Share with them that you have lost someone very dear to you. When I shared with people I trusted why I was sad, they responded positively and made me feel better.

Tell me about your pet. I would love to hear about that little animal that brings you so much joy and gives you lots of love.

Until next time...snuggle your pet, caress your fabric, smile at a stranger and keep eye contact until they smile back, when someone cuts you off in traffic just say, "God is not finished with them yet."


  1. so sorry , we recently had to put down 2 of our little wennie dogs! they were only 3 years old, living in the motorhome going up and down the stairs their back broke, we have one left and I don't think we will ever get another pet, the loss is just too much..thinking of you pam

  2. I can relate to your loss. I have lost two doxies
    because of that. Never again for me too. Thanks so much
    for writing. Mary