Welcoming a New Family Member and Moving On from Loss

On June 7th, 2020 our family welcomed home a new member. Juniper “June”, a tiny 8-week old kitten. But we also said a final goodbye to another member, our cat Freckles who passed away a year ago in May of 2019.

Sunday was a pretty special day. We drove about and hour and a half out of town to pick up our new little bundle of joy. It was a beautiful sunny clear skies day, a great day for a drive.

We listened to music, sang along & breathed some fresh air.

We also talked about how strange it was to think we were welcoming home another furry baby. For my husband and I, who don’t yet have kids, our pets are our children. We love them as much as each other. So for us last May, when we had to say goodbye to one of our babies, it was one of the hardest decisions we have had to make in our marriage and it has brought us a lot of grief and sadness. We miss Freckles almost everyday and her loss is felt by our other two fur-children, her litter-mate Imp and our dog Holly.

Freckles

Freckles was my first cat other than the cats I grew up with as a kid. She was the first addition to our family before my husband and I were even dating. She was an extremely sweet-natured cat, gentle, quiet, and with fur as soft as they come. She was shy but had her chosen people. She was also goofy and a little clumsy. I always called her the “ugly-duckling” because she was a little funny looking as a kitten but grew up to be a beautiful lady cat. I can remember when my husband and I first started dating Freckles would wake us up in the mornings with the tiniest soft meows and a gentle pat on the very edge of the bed almost as if to whisper “Excuse me please… would you please wake up to feed me?”. Freckles was a lovely companion, a true gentle soul.

It was a hard decision to get another cat. For a long time, we couldn’t even think about it without crying over Freckles. We were also worried about our other cat who was experiencing a lot of distress over the loss of her sister. She would cry in the night, and sniff and look for her sister everywhere. She became possessive of her sister’s old bed that still smelled like her. She was lonely, anxious, and grieving. But after almost a year of seeing if she could be happy alone, and of living with just two furry babies, we decided it was time to bring home another.

Even on the day we brought Juniper home just a week ago, I felt like I was betraying Freckles or somehow replacing her. It was hard to wrap my mind around the idea of a new cat without feeling some guilt and sadness. But looking into the carrier and seeing those little teeth and tiny paws, I also knew there couldn’t really be anything wrong with bringing home this little life. What I’ve realized is that Juniper could never replace Freckles because she’s entirely her own cat. And loving Juniper doesn’t mean I love or miss Freckles any less.

If you’ve ever lost a pet or loved one you may have felt these feelings too. Grief is a complicated and often surprising thing. It can cling to us more than we realize and if we don’t work through it, it can keep us from moving forward. Somehow bringing home this new baby, brought up a lot of feelings of grief for us. It felt like a significant marker of time passing, a reminder of the loss of our old baby, and was a big step in moving forward. It somehow created a sense of finality of Freckles’ passing and marked our stepping into a new chapter. It’s important to realize you can be happy about something new without letting go of the sadness you feel about something else, and that’s what we’re working through.

We miss you Freckles and someday we hope to see you again. You will always be our beloved first.

Welcome home Juniper, we look forward to getting to know you, introducing you to your big sisters (Holly & Imp), and watching you grow.

Juniper

Write soon,

Hannah B.L.

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