Life as I know it changed yesterday.
I don't know what tomorrow looks like for me now. It may sound dramatic, but this is exactly how I feel right now.
I came home from a fun long weekend away and walked into my house to see my friend and my family who had travelled four hours to be here so I wouldn't be alone.
At first, I was just excited to see them.
Quickly, it became apparent there was bad news to come or I was about to get an intervention. (Likely regarding my salt intake.)
My brain didn't quite compute and then it hit me. This couldn't bode well. Bad news was coming.
And then the words came: "Otis is gone!"
Otis was the most loved cat who ever lived. I know everyone loves their pets and thinks they are the the smartest and cutest animal who ever walked. And we would all be correct.
Otis, named after the affable town drunk in Mayberry and The Andy Griffith Show, came to me 10 years ago in August.
He was a domestic short-haired feline from the country to me gifted from friends as a kitten with overly large ears, big paws and a little heart-shaped nose. I knew he was meant for me.
Otis walked into my home and changed the energy in the house. It got warmer and kinder.
He made my life better in every possible way. His presence made me happy. Knowing that I would see that little face when I came home at night or from a trip made it worthwhile.
He helped me process the death of my parents, the death of my marriage and the loss of a 40-year job.
I never ever felt alone as long as that cat was close to me.
Otis was like no other cat I have ever known. He knew his name. He literally didn't have a mean bone in his body.
He never gave attitude when I went away for trips. He just was thrilled when I was back and sat as close as he could. He was my very best friend.
Crazy cat lady? Likely.
I had a friend who always stepped in and stayed in my home, named Camp Otis when I went away.
Unfortunately, he had to be the one to find Otis, in the bathroom where he must have passed very quickly (possibly from a heart attack) and without lingering. I think he chose his time while I wasn't here to find him while alone.
This was perhaps his final gift.
This friend waited, with my family, to break the news when I walked through the door.
I feel bad they had to witness the meltdown. It wasn't pretty.
Grief is grief. Love is love. Pain is pain.
I am feeling it all immensely right now.
There is a lump in my throat the size of a boulder.
I know I am not the first to feel this way about the loss of a furry family member, I am just the latest.
Otis loved Temptations more than any cat I ever knew. If I had a dollar for every jumbo bag I bought, I would have been a millionaire. He would stand, stuck like Velcro to the wall, at a spot near the kitchen and would look up to where the Temptations were stored.
He pretty much just hung out there waiting for guests to start handing out the treats. He had everyone in my life trained. Sometimes he pretended to have a sore paw so he got sympathy treats.
I have no idea what my future looks like now, nor do I especially want to think about it.
He always curled up beside me at night and placed his paw on top of my hand to sleep.
I often took Otis with me on my four-hour car trips to my hometown of Chatham. He was my co-pilot.
I am off to take Otis on his final car ride. He will be my most precious cargo.
Thank you, Otis. You made my life infinitely better.