Heartbroken and Hysterical

Christopher Thomas and Alisa Murray.

Christopher Thomas and Alisa Murray.

In 1994, I was shooting a wedding, and at the rehearsal dinner at Los Alamados, one of the dear children tugged on my dress, pointed outside and shouted “kitty!” It was November and quite a cold evening. I went out into it and bent down toward that blonde bundle, and the sweetest little kitten pushed his two front paws off of the leaves to touch my hand with his very cold nose. I scooped him up, his size no more than a few weeks, if that, old. He was instantly mine.

When it came time to have and to try to have children, it was Christopher Thomas who lay in the bed comforting me while I miscarried and held steadfast to me bedside as I recovered from anything that ailed me. Christopher Thomas would sit on my lap and knead one side of me while the babies nursed the other. Christopher Thomas was there as my Granny and Big Daddy died, then my father and my uncle and my Nana. You must know, he had always been there.

I began to notice lately that he was getting feeble, but I guess I was in denial. I remember saying to Brian at Christmas that this was probably going to be our last Christmas with him, but secretly, I wasn’t buying it. I should have been.

On the eve of the New Year, I began to realize something was very wrong. By midday New Year’s Day, I was sure of it. Christopher Thomas began the afternoon of the eve clambering at the back door, squeaking his declawed paws on the glass in an effort to escape the home that had cared for him for 19 years. With his persistence, I caved by mid-afternoon to his requests and allowed him the pleasure of walking around the pool, checking the flowerbeds and even indulged him sitting in the Alyssum and closing his eyes while honey bees swarmed around him. He was making his last rounds to the spaces he had called home for so long. By the evening, he was drooling blood, and I knew deep down that the end had somehow crept near without me noticing. I wished more than anything at all that it hadn’t.

I saw Becky, Christopher Thomas’s doctor, at HEB, and in hindsight, I know this was not a coincidence. On January 2nd, I took him into the ICU. I left my wig, which he had sat near when the babies were in their cribs learning how to sleep through the night, and Becky said he stayed near to it the entire time in the hospital. We got him on a Tuesday, Father Mike came and did his final blessings, and by Wednesday evening, I knew what had to be done. I was then, and to be truthful, I still am, a mixture of heartbroken and hysterical.

His last night in between me carrying him to the potty and administering his IV’s, I secretly prayed to my Heavenly Father that as he walked through the grassy pathway to heaven, it would be my own mother who would bend down and offer her hand for him to push his cold nose. She so loved yellow Tabby’s!

On the second Thursday morning of the new year, after he had given me warning and a full week to get my head wrapped around this, he passed away into God’s and my Mother’s waiting arms. His head was in my hands, and he was breathing my own breath as he went. It was awful; it was wonderful. He was 19.

When these things happen to us, I find myself reflecting to parallels in my life. I pull deep into myself and search for answers. When my Nana passed away at 102, I was there. It was awful mainly because she was my mother. I had now lost two. She got me through so much, held me up when no one else even knew I needing holding. She waited though, despite post-surgerical complications, and my stubbornness that she was not going to die. When I arrived in North Carolina, I had time to give her a manicure, place her favorite perfume on her and essentially prepare myself for the inevitable. Only then did she pass. She, like my Christopher Thomas, gave me time to get my head wrapped around her death.

Many never get that chance to prepare for a loved one’s passing. I have experienced both parents suddenly, just gone. Nana and Christopher Thomas gave me a gift. They each allowed me the opportunity to say goodbye. I can’t wait to see them someday on the other side!

Take care of what is important to YOU!