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Losing the Light of My Life: My Struggle to Cope with the Unexpected Loss of a Beloved Pet

I got Fiddle on October 21 of 2015. He was five months old to the day. He was from a rescue organization that partnered with Petland. There were seven kittens there that day. There were three black ones and three orange ones. And then there was Fiddle. He was absolutely adorable. A mix of white and tabby,with a perfect spot on his left shoulder. I fell in love

immediately. Besides, we already had both a black and an orange cat. Pippin, our orange tabby, or “baby tiger,” as we call him, is wholly my mother’s cat. He likes everyone, but he loves my mom the most. Raffles, our black cat, had belonged to my sister before she moved out, and had since become a family cat. But Fiddle was absolutely mine. I lovingly called Fiddle “Little Fiddle,” despite how big he was. Standing on his hind legs he could easily reach the countertop. And despite his size, Fiddle was extremely skittish around strangers. He rarely warmed up to anyone outside the family. You’d be lucky if he peeked at you from around a corner. But with me, his personality shone. Fiddle loved belly rubs more than any other cat I’ve known. When he finally warmed up to my boyfriend, he expressed it by flopping over onto his back: that means it’s time for belly rubs.

He also liked to be carried around the house. By me, specifically. And he’d purr as I carried him around. In fact, nine times out of ten, all I had to do was touch Fiddle and he’d start purring, even if he was sleeping. And he was sleeping most of the time. All cats sleep a lot, but Fiddle was the laziest I’ve ever met. We used to joke that he was always tired from working too hard. (He didn’t work at all.) One of the reasons I napped so much is because he would always nap with me. He liked to sleep on my chest, cuddled up to my face. When he was awake, he liked to follow me around the house. He always wanted to be where I was. He’d even refuse to get out of the bathroom when I had to shower, only to start crying halfway through. He would also start crying if either of the other cats tried to start a fight with him. Pippin and Raffles roughhouse all the time, but Fiddle was more sensitive than that. He didn’t like to fight.

I spent most of the day on campus the day that it happened. I had a lot of work to get done. I keep thinking if I had known, I would have stayed home with him. When I got home from school, I said hi to my mom and my cats before getting ready to go to my boyfriend’s house. He was fine, then. Just as he always was. Sleepy, happy. I’m glad I took some time with him before I left. My boyfriend and I were playing pool when I got the call from my

mom. My parents don’t usually call me, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My mom was hysterical on the phone. She asked me where I was. I said, “I’m at Scott’s house.”

Then I asked her what was wrong. And then she told me. “Fiddle’s dead.”

My heart stopped when I heard those words. That couldn’t be… I had just seen him. He was fine. At first it didn’t really sink in. I struggled to comprehend what was happening. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t yet. More than anything, I just didn’t understand. My boyfriend gave me a ride home. I started sobbing in the car. I kept thinking it’s not real. He’s going to wake up, right? There’s no way Fiddle could be dead. He’s only six. When I got home and I saw him, my world came crashing down. I thought I would have so much more time with him. I cradled his

body in my arms and cried. All I could think was no, no, no, no. Not this.

My mom said she had heard a sound, like someone stumbled on the stairs. When she went to investigate, Fiddle was lying on the floor. She said he coughed a few times and then he was gone. The vet said it was probably a blood clot or a stroke. My family and I decided against getting an autopsy. We couldn’t stand the thought of them cutting him open. I’ve lost people before. I’ve had many cats before Fiddle who have passed on, or who needed to be put down. Both of my grandfathers died when I was young. The difference between this time and those times is that those times, I knew it was coming. They were old, or sick, or both. In

any case, all those times before, I knew on some level that it was coming. It hadn’t come as a shock.

My sister’s old cat, Cole, had to be put down on short notice due to kidney failure, and that had been hard. But even then, at least we got to say goodbye. And Cole wasn’t my cat. Fiddle was mine. He was my baby boy. This is the hardest loss I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never been more devastated. I’ve never been more heartbroken. For the first few days, it felt like was living in a nightmare. It was all I could think about. I heard my mom’s voice in my head from that phone call: “Fiddle’s dead.” Every second thought was dedicated to Fiddle. He’s dead. I’ll never see him again. It was heartbreaking to see how the other cats reacted to

Fiddle’s death. Raffles, who is normally carefree, stayed in the basement, and wouldn’t go upstairs where it happened. Pippin, who is normally affectionate, wouldn’t let us touch him. When Raffles got over the shock, he was more or less back to his regular self. He seemed to know that I needed support and made sure to be around to cheer me up. Pippin, on the other hand, was not quite himself for several days. Pippin and Fiddle had been

particularly close. It’s been almost a month now since Fiddle has been gone. I’ve cried so many days I lost count. Our house feels empty without him. My bed feels empty without him sleeping at my feet.

But slowly, I’m getting by. Sometimes it hurts to remember him, because I’m remembering that

he’s gone. But sometimes I remember the good things, and it makes me smile. I know it will take me a long time to heal from this. But someday, I hope I can only remember him happily. Because he always made me so happy.

Rest in Peace, Little Fiddle. You are so loved. And you are so missed.

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