Tag Archives: loss

#10forNala (and Kayla).

Today, M and I ran our #10forNala tribute run and it was cathartic, emotional, and challenging, all rolled into one.

I woke up feeling a bit exhausted and wondering if we would actually complete the 10 miles today or cut it short. I had posted about running our 10 miles earlier this week, against my usual MO, which is to do it, then talk about it (I fear jinxing myself, having a bad run, etc. and would rather do it quietly, then discuss. But I digress), because I was proud of what we were about to accomplish and, truthfully, was actually confident in this run and our ability to do it justice.

And do it justice we did.

We ran mostly in silence, with some ‘jukebox M’ along the way in his ever present ‘sherpa’ ways, random song outbursts that came right at a time where I’d struggle or start to tire. And M’s latest thing? To change lyrics in songs to something dirty…and it’s hilarious. He’ll just slide something in in place of a different word or phrase and change the tone of the song he’s singing entirely. My husband is hilarious, I must admit 🙂

And when there were moments of struggle, I’d think of Nala, and I’d think of Kayla, sitting at home, awaiting our return, ready to come down and trill her ever cute ‘mewww?’ that greets us as we enter now (and it’s the most adorable voice ever). I’d see a squirrel (aka bunny fake-out) and its fur would remind me of Nala, or I’d see her fur coloring in the leaves that have fallen from the trees, or be reminded of her cute little paws that would tap my face when she’d wake me up at dark thirty for breakfast. And I’d smile. And the struggle in my legs – or my mind – would wane and I’d run happily again.

We finished our run, breathed a sigh of relief, M held my hand, and said ‘we did it. Nala would be proud.’ And he’s right. She would be. And she is. And so is Kayla. Because we weren’t running just for Nala, but for Kayla as well.

As I wrote on instagram this morning: #10fornala completed this morning, #teampeixoto style. It may have been tough, but it was equally worth it and cathartic. I miss her more than anything but as tough as these last few weeks have been, we’re moving forward. And? Ms Kayla couldn’t me cuter, more loving and more ‘there’ for us, as we are trying to be for her. Onward. Sweet Nala. #runsherpa #fursherpa

8.26.03 – 9.25.13

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A needed #staycation

Since last Friday, October 4, M and I have been on #staycation2013 (my very first! I have never taken a week off from work and not gone anywhere!), and it couldn’t have come at a more needed or perfect time.

I was forgetting things at work. I wasn’t as sharp. I wasn’t as upbeat. I wasn’t as ‘on it’ as usual.

We were both tired, weary, mentally and physically.

With the recent passing of our beautiful Nala, we just needed a retreat. A simple one, away from the day to day, but at the same time, closeby, cultivating our connection with Nala’s sister, Kayla, with each other, and with ourselves. Just having time to think. And to not think. Time to do the things we have pushed off, the errands, the closet organizing, the dry cleaning. All the little things that just get pushed to the side. Time to also do nothing. To NOT plan. To go planless. 

I asked M to make sure I did not overplan. I started to. I really did. I had something set for every day of our staycation. But as soon as that day hit, I suddenly didn’t care what we did or when, just that we were together and that we kept it simple.

We slept in. Almost every day.

We worked out, sure, but when we wanted to. Not just to get it in or to fit it in between other things. And those workouts felt amazing. We ran 9 for our #10forNala in preparation, and it felt awesome. To feel rested, ready, and in fresh, crisp, beautiful air.

We drank wine. A lot. We made dinners that usually take more time on weeknights. We went apple picking. I baked seriously the most amazing apple pie ever (not to pat myself on the back or anything…), we watched movies, we read our books, we relaxed.

We celebrated our 34th birthdays together too, as we are three days apart, in Boston, overnight in the city, at our favorite restaurant and just soaked it all in.

And today, on the last day of our staycation (M has tomorrow off too though, stinker!), we both feel rested, relaxed, rejuviated and ready for the week ahead. Ready to dig deep and face the latest season of our lives, together. Closer than ever.

…and also ready – so ready – to run #10forNala. As of now, we plan to run it Tuesday. We thank everyone that has run, walked, yoga’d, done anything in their own way to pay tribute to our beautiful Nala.

If you ever have a chance to staycation…please do. It has been an incredible, invaluable week that I feel so fortunate to have taken, at a time when we both needed it most.

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#10forNala…in memory.

One week ago, I lost my fur soulmate.

And in about one more week, I plan to run 10 miles for Nala. 10 miles in memory of her short – but most cherished – years with us.

I haven’t run double-digits since this time last year, when I was a #runsherpa for my sister and brother-in-law’s marathon, but the day after Nala’s passing, it all came together in my brain.

I wanted to run for her. Run for her memory. Run for her companionship. Run for her loyalty, love, and laughter she gave me for the last 10 years. And run for me. For the therapy and its cathartic abilities as I mourn the loss of her.

We ran 7.5 miles on Friday. We ran 8 miles yesterday. We’ll run 9 miles early next week…and perhaps next weekend, we’ll run #10forNala. I’ll send an update via instagram when we decide to run our 10 miles in memory…and if anyone would like to join #teampeixoto virtually, we would love that. You can run 10 miles. You can walk 10,000 steps. You can run a 10K. You can run for 10 minutes. You can walk for 10 minutes. You can do anything that makes you happy.

Are you in? #10forNala…the most charismatic and unforgettable kitty ever. Always remembered, never forget. 8.26.03 – 9.25.13.

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Remembering Nala.

Every time I sit down to write this post, I cry.

But I want to write it because I want to remember Nala. I want to seer into my brain the decade-long journey of her life and companionship. Not the sickness and pain and final moments that at this time, I cannot erase from my mind, and that keeps floating in and out of my head, when I shut my eyes, I see *that* memory, when I awake in the middle of the night *that* memory creeps in, as much as I shove it away. The best way to tuck those sad memories aside is the remember and celebrate her life, her healthy years, and the joy that she brought me, my family, and Miguel.

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When my childhood cat Shelby passed away in July 2003 from a tumor under her tongue, I was devastated. I loved that cat so much. She was feisty and her mood could shift instantly, but she was our cat, my sisters and me, for 13 years. When she passed, the house felt empty, literally and figuratively. It didn’t take long for me to realize I needed cats in my life. In October 2003, I meandered over to petfinder.com (note: do not do this if you are not seriously considering adopting, because those pictures suck you right in) and clicked on an open house in my area for litters of kittens at a local shelter. I looked at the date and time and then at the clock. It was in an hour. I looked at the litter and knew this was the litter I would pick out my two kittens from.

When I walked into the shelter and over to the litter of kittens, they were so tiny, about a pound each and so damn cute, I started squealing right away.  It was a mixture of tiger kittens and a couple of gray ones too. I knew that I wanted two, I wanted sisters, and I wanted tiger kittens, and at least one of them to be long-haired. I walked over to the cage and they opened the door, and I gaze in and see Kayla first, cowering in the corner (such a fraidy cat, my little fluff!), basically hiding in the litter box. As I was about to say ‘I want her’ – this little short haired tiger kitten walks over to the edge of the cage with her 1 inch legs and leans against me, as if to say ‘I pick you…now pick me up.” I picked her up and she lay right down in my arms and purred. I firmly believe cats pick their owners and in that moment, my Nala had chosen me. I held her for about 30 mins as the shelter staff was helping others. She was so content to just sit in my arms and be cozy and there was no way I was leaving without her, or her sister, Kayla. When it was finally my turn, the shelter staff asked me which ones I wanted and I of course pointed to the little ball of fur in my arms, and then to Kayla. They warned me that Kayla had escaped the cage yesterday and had gotten into the eaves of the building, getting insulation in her eyes, causing the start of an upper respiratory infection and I would have to wait a week to have her, as she needed to be quarantined and given antibiotics. I didn’t care. I would be taking her with me, no matter what. I left that day with Nala, in a Clorox bleach cardboard box as I did not have a cat carrier and she was so tiny in that box, cowering in the corner as I drove home.

I remember coming home and warning my sisters and mom that these kittens were TINY and I would have to slowly let them explore my mom’s big house as I was pretty certain I could easily lose them under a cabinet, in a corner, or under a mattress, they were that tiny. They were so small that they couldn’t jump on my bed, their legs were just too short, and they needed a step stool for awhile. And when I brought Kayla home after her quarantine, I was supposed to keep them separate for a few days, but it was nearly impossible as Nala mewed over the wall into my sister’s room at Kayla, and then Kayla mewed back over the wall at her sister. They could feel each other there and they wanted to be with each other. For comfort. And playing, I am sure. I caved within hours of bringing Kayla home, and when I reunited them, they bound towards each other and start licking and rolling on the floor. This is how I picture them in Heaven one day…doing the very same thing.

From that day forward, Nala and Kayla were inseparable. Nala tended to follow Kayla around more than Kayla following her around, but I would always find them wrapped up in a ball next to each other, or near each other in some way. Nala would play with Kayla’s fluffball tail, and sometimes trick her into thinking she was going to just lay next to her, and she’d start by licking her head, arms wrapped gently around her neck, and then suddenly, they’d be in a full on tussle, Nala ‘bunny feeting’ her hind legs around Kayla and Kayla batting back, with her doubly-big paws and wriggling her way out of Nala’s grasp, running into the other room. Five minutes later, they’d be curled up next to each other again. Typical sisters, right?

As my girls grew up, Nala veered towards my ex-husband and Kayla was a mama’s girl, through and through. But after my separation and divorce, Nala became my loyal companion. She was always there. She would lay in my lap, or by my feet, or on the back of my chair, just to be near me. She would join me for dinner, sitting to my left, trying to get a nibble of food, and sometimes just to sit and contentedly join in a staring contest with me, not blinking until I did.

She was fearless, too. She wouldn’t be afraid of my mom’s dog, or my sister’s, hiding at first, but then she’d come around and try to mess with them. She’d follow them around, sniffing at them, and eventually scaring *them* away from her. She loved to play with toy mice, and she’d immediately bite them in half (yes, in half) and then chew up the leathery tail, and then play with the mouse carcass that remained…and sometimes, I’d hear a gutteral mrewowwwww and wonder what she was doing, and she’d coming down the stairs with it in her mouth, meowing. She’d drop it by my feet, and look at me, as if to say, ‘play with me, mom!’ with the cutest face ever, and I would laugh, and toss it for her to scamper and play with, tossing it into the air, and back down again.

When she began eating like a horse, seemingly insatiable, I took her to the vet for the first time (somewhat eerily, read my ‘open letter to Nala’ on my old blog, and her story then, vs. now is strikingly similar at her conclusion…). And from there, her mystery illness would begin. She would go through this period of insatiable appetite, yet she’d lose weight and eventually not feel well and I would take her to the vet. She’d have dropped weight and become dehydrated, where a round of steroids and antibiotics would do the trick (this after a series of ultrasounds and tests that would yield nothing. no FIP, no cancer, no unusual blood work, no thyroid issue, no parasites, nothing. the picture of health, on paper…). She went through this cycle four times in the past 4-ish years and it would be the illness that would end her life.

Over the years, after her first bout with this mystery illness, I would worry. Constantly. I would feed her as much as she wanted. Milk, tuna juice, leftovers from dinner, anything. When she would wake me up by batting my face, or putting one claw gennnnntly over my cheek or flicked under my nostril at 4:40 am almost every morning, I would oblige and feed her breakfast, even though it was not yet time to get up.  I made sure to have petsitters when we were away, feeding my cats and making sure Nala always got extra. Yet I would worry. And worry. And look at her constantly. And worry. It was always in the back of my mind. Is she too thin? Is she acting herself? Is she eating enough? Was that a hairball or was that puke a red flag for something else? And always, always, I feared the worst, it was so hard to trust faith and God, and know that she was okay.

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I loved Nala so much. I can’t even express how much I loved her. And how much I miss her. So much that it hurts. I go through waves of sadness. Waves of tears. And then I remember something funny that she did. Some funny memory, or antic she used to pull, and I smile. Because I want to remember her that way, not at the end, sick, frail and…dying. I want to remember how much she enriched my life, how much she filled a gaping hole in my heart after my divorce, and how much joy she brought to my home.

Nala…the funniest cat that I truly believe was part dog at times. Loved to ‘fetch,’ loved to talk to us. Loved to be near us.

Nala…the most charismatic cat with a face that when you looked at her, you just gave in to whatever she wanted. Just so damn cute and quizzical.

Nala…the cat that would eat anything. And I mean anything. Eggs, chicken, crackers, Doritos (M even shared them with her), cheese, milk, sometimes yogurt, you name it, she would probably have eaten it.

Nala…who loved to ‘share’ my office chair, curling up behind me as I worked. She would sneak into my chair when I’d get up and I’d come back, and there she was.

Nala…the queen of staring contests. No really, she was a starer. And a face sniffer, face batter with her paws.

Nala…the cat that you could do anything to and she’d come running back. Play rough with her, toss a balled up piece of paper, off she’d scamper and run back with it. You could chase after her, she’d chase you back. Fearless.

To my Nala…my loyal companion of 10 years, I miss you so much and I am so very sorry you were suffering at the end, though I hope you heard me tell you how much I love you and how much of a good girl you were. I hope you could feel me with you, stroking your fur, and kissing you, telling you that it would be okay. And I hope you visit me often, in Kayla, in my dreams, and in my thoughts. Because you are always with me, always.

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The loss of a ‘fur’ soulmate.

Yesterday, I lost my  ‘fur’ soulmate, Nala. I am in shock, I an numb and saddened at the loss of my 10 year companion, the most charismatic, loving, devoted kitty there ever was. Yesterday was a surreal, out of body experience with my worst fear coming to fruition: having to decide to end her suffering and say goodbye.

Backing up…two days ago, I took her to the vet as she was not herself, lethargic and noticeably skinny…again. It was happening again. Several years ago, the same thing happened. And every year or so it would happen. She would lose weight, yet eat like a horse, yet every possible ailment was ruled out. Blood work clear. No thyroid issues. No parasites. Nothing explainable. Steroids and antibiotic and lots of extra food usually did the trick.  But not this time. This time she was 5.75 lbs, the smallest she had ever gotten. Losing two lbs in two months, yet eating constantly. After an IV of fluids, blood and urine samples, we were sent home to await the results. Nala slept most of the day, eating little. I knew she was not improving, yet kept trying to find hopeful signs of improvement. She was not hiding. She *was* eating (even if just a little). But she was not very alert. She was weak and bony. She could barely lift her head. My stomach was in knots. My heart was breaking to see her this way. The blood and urine samples came back clear, no signs of anything.

Yet, I knew. I knew she was not recovering, but she was dying. I didn’t want to admit it or say it out loud, but in hindsight, deep down, I knew. Yesterday, she laid curled in my bed, barely moving. I checked on her hourly. I checked on her around 12:30 and discovered she had peed all over the bed. I started to tear up as I hated to think she was peeing because she had no strength to get up. Little did I know that it was early signs of her body failing her. I carried her in a blanket down to my office and laid her down next to me so I could watch her. I gave her some tuna juice, willing her to drink it, giving her some sustenance. She drank about half, as I held the bowl to her lips because she couldn’t lift herself enough to drink it herself.

I went into the kitchen to prepare my lunch, trying to be hopeful that her eating was a good sign. I came back to find her somehow ambling her way into my office chair, as she often did, ‘sharing’ it with me (more like hogging it, and I would sit in the very edge, to give her room). I put the chair to my side and put another chair next to her, so she would be right next to me. She kept ambling closer to me, just laying there. And then suddenly, she cried out in pain. My heart dropped. I knew. She was failing and quickly. I called the vet at 1:45, and she was in at 2 pm. The vet was visibly concerned and working quickly to stabilize her. They took her away, put her on oxygen, an IV and medication. The vet came in and talked with me and we decided to see if she stabilized in a few hours and then come to a decision. I went in to give her a kiss and tell her I loved her. And the sight of her in incubation, so frail and not very responsive, was incredibly painful. I left, and 5 minutes later, my phone rang. She had gotten progressively worse, and I turned around and flew back to the vet, hoping I would not lose my chance to say goodbye. I bawled as I walked back in, legs shaking. I went in, and there she was, twitching, shaking and…dying. The vet looked at me, sadly, and said, “I think it is time.” And I, crying, agreed. turned and signed the euthanasia paperwork, in a fog. I turned to Nala, I looked at her, put my hand on her side, kissed her gently and told her I loved her. The vet injected her and with one final breathe in…she was gone.

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My companion, my heart, my little feisty furball was gone. In an instant. I have never cried more. I have never hurt more. I have never wanted to flee and wake up from a nightmare more. It was in that moment I realized just how much she meant to me, how much I had grown to love her. How much she had filled a void in my life the day my then-husband walked out the door. She became the light of my life, my comic relief, my solace when I was scared and alone, my fur soulmate. And in those final moments, I was protecting and saving her, just as she saved and loved me for all of those years.

To my beautiful girl, Nala, I love you more than I thought possible. Your spirit will forever live on, in me, and in your sister Kayla, who is lost without you, but carries your soul, your beautiful face, and your spirit, forever. 8-26-03 – 9-25-13

(to be continued…)

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