Today marks a sad anniversary – it was exactly one year ago that we said good-bye to our Ripley. It was a bright, sunny spring morning, much like this one. But for Dean and I, it was the end of an era.
It seems like yesterday that the three of us made that last car ride together. In fact, we still tear up when we think about him, as the pain is yet just below the surface. But, in reality, a whole year has passed and I realize that so much has changed since then.
For one thing, there is no doubt that the sharp pain has eased for all of us. We no longer come through the front door expecting to have Ripley greet us, nor do I wake up in the night looking for the feel of his soft weight against my legs. Lady Jane, too, finally stopped grieving for her brother and began to be her old self again. And, as I always secretly knew, we were in time, ready for the biggest change of all. We welcomed 2 year old Baxter into our home and into our hearts. (One the unexpected results was that, as a result of the new playmate and the increased physical activity, Lady Jane has lost some weight. She now runs and just a few weeks ago, managed to jump on the dresser in our bedroom – a place she has not been up on in over 10 years. Talk about a change!)
Initially, my biggest fear was that I would forget about Ripley – his little habits and the stories we shared. I wanted so desperately to emblazon his memory in my mind. Consequently, right after his death, we took a notebook and through our tears, wrote down all of the things that had made him special. Every memory we could come up with, even the small, silly ones. And, as Dean and I would remember additional stories, we would continue to write. It helped in the healing process and allowed us to slowly let go, knowing Ripley’s life story was safe. However, we soon realized that we should do this for all of our kitties, keeping records as we go. So Lady Jane, and now Baxter, have their own special memory books. And we take photographs…so many photographs.
But, for all of the progress we have made, the truth is, I don’t think there will ever come a day when I don’t think about our Orange Boy. He was our very first pet together, and because he came into our lives just 3 months after Dean and I were married, Ripley had been there practically from the beginning. We loved him so much, and he, us. He will always be a part of our story.
Ripley, for all of our brave faces, how we still miss you! But, this I promise you: you will never be forgotten. Afterall, you never forget your first.