Just a few days shy of his 4th birthday, we lost our baby Albus a couple days ago without seeing it coming. I had an instinct throughout his life that he would be gone too soon…something I’d say to Nick when he’d try to reassure me the cats were both healthy and had the best food-an instinct that informed the way he was treated in our home, with extra love and sympathy, and as though he were always a kitten. I would joke about how I’d birthed him and share silly pseudo-anatomical illustrations of women impregnated with their cat children while we “planned their college fund”. I knew deep down his big brother Drizzt (who was solely responsible for Albus’s grooming and who constantly made way for Albus to receive the most love and attention) would outlive him. Drizzt must have known as well. Still, it being THIS early was a shock. Aside from a brief episode a couple weeks ago that seemed stomach related and from which he fully recovered (but was in hindsight a cardiac issue), he wasn’t “sick”. Witnessing it happen inifinitely worse the next time is something I won’t soon be able to get out of my head.
While I have questions and guilt surrounding the end of his life, instincts also played a role in his last night with us. Instead of seeing a movie, we decided to spend the night home. Albus was at his very cuddliest and sweetest, climbing into my arms and letting me cradle him like a child while he purred at his usual monster truck decibel. Any time I left or moved, he’d climb into a new crevice in my body, inching as close as possible. I told Nick my “spider senses were tingling” and that I felt strange-anxious, sad, Etc- and I didn’t know why, yet I spent the entire night marveling at how amazing and adorable Albus was while I told him out loud that he was the cutest cat in the world. I asked Nick to bring him upstairs after I went to bed to sleep with me, which I’ve never done before-usually letting the cats come and go as they want. A half hour later, he had a sudden episode I couldn’t stop and was gone. I cried in a way I never have before and I know Nick unfortunately won’t forget. It was one of the toughest things I’ve had to watch, but I know in my heart that it was the most right for him to be with his people because he loved people so damn much.
After taking him to the hospital to make arrangements and say our good byes, we stopped at a gas station and cried. I said I had anxiety about leaving him for the last time and not saying good bye once more because it never felt like enough. Nick was supposed to go in himself but told me to come out and get fresh air. A white cat like Albus came out of nowhere and stopped to stare at us a couple of times before leaving. Just days before, I let Albus (an indoor cat) outside for the first time since Florida, and he looked beautiful and happy in the sun. The multitude of signs leading up to and right after his death are a welcome comfort, regardless of their origin.
Despite having felt deep loss, from a parent and beloved grandparents to uncles and friends-I could not have anticipated the pain and sadness of the last couple days. As a chronically ill person, Albus and Drizzt are my most faithful and constant companions, and losing one of them has left a hole in my heart I didn’t know I had until he filled it-a bond that psychology articles liken to significant others and close loved ones.
I can only be grateful that his lessons and love are transcending his life in a time where I needed to be reminded how much love and life mean. We constantly joked that Albus lived on the edge and was the king of the House-from taunting the dog and stealing any kind of Italian food or salmon/chicken to his constant clinging and adorable meow whenever you’d try to move him from a place of cuteness and comfort. Now, I can see so clearly how perfect he was and the legacy he left Nick and I in terms of unconditional love, living in the moment, the brevity of living, the importance of taking health matters seriously, and so much more. I imagine many creatures and people seem like perfect stories in hindsight, but with Albus-I am positive that he was meant to be from the moment we laid eyes on him.
Needless to say, I’m grieving intensely and quickly. I apologize if I fall short of my duties as a friend or peer in the coming weeks. This won’t be the last of my dedications. There’s too much more to say. I know that those who have never had this bond won’t understand at all, and even those who have may not understand exactly how incredible Albus was. Either way, I hope some people take comfort in my sharing, whether it be because they’ve had a similar experience, will in the future, or simply need a reminder to appreciate the animals in their life and that they are not alone if they are already doing so fiercely.
Rest in Love, Albus Alby Dumbledore Purry Bernstein.
May 2014-May 2018