I lost Midge, my last of three cats, back in March, and haven’t slept a full night since. I have so many dreams now, and wake up after/during most of them. I never used to wake up so many times each night or remember my dreams when I awoke. I was one of those obnoxious people who could fall asleep in minutes and sleep through a riot.
I always called Midge “My Sleeping Pill.” She worked better than Ambien. She would corral me into the bedroom, wait for me to lay down, climb on top of me, and I’d be asleep in less than 5 minutes. It didn’t matter where or when she climbed on me, I would fall asleep in minutes.
When she thought it was time for me to go to bed, she would meow at me from the bedroom door until I climbed into bed. I never knew if she did it for her or my comfort. I know you think, “She was a cat. There’s no way she had any thoughts or feelings. She was just a cat.” You’d be wrong. I had 17 years of proof that she had a consciousness. I may never be able to convince you, but I know it to be true.
She didn’t just control my bedtime, she was also my “alarm clock.” Every morning she would wake me. She didn’t care if it was an hour early or a day off. In fact on days off she was even more persistent about getting me out of bed in the morning. Of course, she would go back to sleep within 15 minutes of waking me up, but she’d done her duty.
I no longer have my “sleeping pill” or “alarm clock.” I can’t fall asleep in minutes. I toss and turn every night. I wake up multiple times every night. I have crazy dreams AND nightmares. I am on edge all the time. Everyone in my life can see it. So many have said, “Get a new cat.” How can they say that? Midge was part of my family…not just a pet. I can’t just replace her. (Please don’t make comments about how I am comparing a pet to a child. I know that I don’t, and probably never will, have a child. I do not personally know how it would feel to have a child. And my heart aches every day knowing that deficit in my life.)
I was also in a bad car accident a month after I lost Midge. I miraculously walked away with only a scratch even though my car was used as a brake by a 60 mph muscle car. I was hurt more mentally by the accident than anything. I have panic attacks every time I am stopped at the end of a line of stopped cars. The panic only ends when there is a car behind me at a complete stop. I know that this is adding to my sleep problems.
Two weekends ago, we went to my brother and slish’s house. (Slish stands for sister-in-law-ish, They’re not married.)
This last week at work was bad. I got reprimanded by my boss for too many small mistakes. She said that I have been screwing up a lot for the last four months which is out of character for me. My boss said that I am an amazing woman who has been anticipating her needs since I started working for her two years ago. I am not a person who gets in trouble at work. I am generally used as an example to other coworkers.
My boss wanted to know, “What is happening?” I couldn’t giver her an answer. I didn’t know. “Problem’s at home with Mercy?” No, in fact we’ve been having major growth lately. “Is it from the accident?” I don’t know, maybe?
So this week, I have had to think and reach deep to see what IS my problem? I’m stressed and depressed. Well, that’s obvious. I miss my kitty. I’m definitely not sleeping enough. Yes, yes, and yes. All of these things are correct. So how do I fix the problem?
I just said, “I miss my kitty?” What about the first two cats? Don’t I miss them. The short answer is yes. I loved all three of my cats and miss them all. I had different relationships with each of them. Earl, as in earl grey tea, was the bitchiest of cats (and I say that with the biggest smile on my face), but she was active and had a knack for following small patches of sun around the house throughout the day without standing up to move. Midge’s sister, Panda, slept by me in bed and on the arm of my recliner while I watched tv.
What was different about Midge to make me miss her the most? She was my baby. If I was sitting she would climb onto my chest and knead it like she was preparing to suckle. (No, she wouldn’t try and suckle. If you are not familiar with cats, this is a normal thing that many cats do.) If I wanted her to climb on my lap, all I needed to do was put a fleece on my lap. Within minutes, she would stealthily climb onto my lap.
I didn’t grow up with pets. I had no idea how much it would hurt to lose a pet. With Panda and Earl, I was sad for a few weeks. I would get caught off guard at times when I thought I saw them out of the corner of my eye. The grief didn’t last long with those two. But when Midge died, I started to mourn them all. I do not have another cat to distract me from my sadness. If I get another cat, will I be disrespecting the memory of Midge, Panda, and Earl?
I don’t know, but I can’t keep living without a cat. I need sleep. I can’t keep tossing and turning every night. I miss the presence of a small ball of fur snuggled up to me while I sleep. Last night I slept with a stuffed animal. I slept all night without nightmares…