This post is dedicated to my cat, Gryff. I lost him yesterday. On an orange towel. In a vet's office as tears streamed down my face and a tissue appeared in front of my eyes. (I still can't write this without crying.)
I adopted Gryff 15 years ago - a month before I started graduate school in Los Angeles. He has been my best friend, traveled with me from LA to a tiny, dark apartment in San Francisco, and then down the Peninsula. He put up with one husband, one very large dog (who has since gone) and two overly-loving and energetic boys.
A month ago, Gryff developed a severe upper respiratory infection and blood tests revealed more serious underlying health problems. Over the past month, he's had good days and bad days - increasingly more of the latter. Yesterday, I made the decision to let him go. To help end his pain, his suffering, to not prolong it with well-intended pokes and prods.
My mother told me that she wished she could come with me. My father asked if anyone could accompany me. My sister offered me a telephonic hug and wished she was there. My husband said that he wished he could have gone with me.
But this was something I needed to do alone. This was the hardest decision and it was mine.
I remember reading that "Jack", the bulldog in the Little House stories, had a much longer life in the books than in real life. Laura Ingalls Wilder chose the timing of his death in her stories because it signalled an end to her childhood and the beginning of adulthood.
That is how I feel about Gryff passing. Leaving Gryff was, in effect, leaving behind my young adult years. The freedom. The ability to put off truly hard decisions. To not look truth too closely in the face.
And so this post is about Gryff. And how I will miss him. How my backyard already seems empty and lifeless despite fluttering butterflies and chirping birds. How I won't find him lounging in the shade under the tomato plants. How I won't have a furry little body at my feet as I type.
This post, though, is also about me. And about you. About how we are grown ups now. About how our country and our planet are sick. How the hardest decisions are ahead. There will be tears, financial struggles, illness, and all the things that a changing climate, a loss of biodiversity and a dwindling energy supply will bring. We have the strength inside of us, though, and the will to make those decisions. We need not put off the inevitable any longer. Need not dodge it for a few more years or pass it down to the next generation.
We have the strength, the fortitude to examine issues and see the truth - not what we want to see or what the media wants us to see or what a political party wants us to see.
To look at our food system and see not just cheap, plentiful food but pigs that are raped and beaten, downed cows that are kicked in the face, or a dead zone that spreads from our country like a cancer.
To look at our educational system and see teachers who are underpaid, children without physical education or recess, schools that are crumbling.
To look at our energy usage and see that mountaintop removal is ugly and deadly and wrong. That drilling for more oil to temporarily alleviate (10 years from now) the price of gas is prolonging the inevitable.
To look at our planet and realize that we have reached the tipping point. That the Arctic ice will not come back. That the polar bears - whom Sarah Palin does not considered "threatened" - are so hungry they have taken to eating each other. That we cannot bury out heads in the quickly melting ice any longer.
To look at our homes and know that we have too much, that we are lucky, that we do not need that gadget, this year's shoes or that toy for our child. To know when enough is enough.
So, I will take a moment of silence for my dear departed friend. And in that moment, I will also thank him - not just for being a friend, for being with me through anything and everything, but for signaling my adulthood.
I am now all grown up and must make the hardest decisions.