There’s a certain heaviness to chronic pain. It’s an ephemeral heaviness, a constriction of muscles a healthy person might get in a P90X class or carrying their neighbor’s couch into the house for them.

The neck muscles are tight, the shoulders are tense, the back aches, all from a mixture of “guarding” – the act of holding your body in a particular way to avoid or minimize pain – or a lack of activity from feeling to ill to do much.

Over time it becomes a literal weight. You wake up in the morning and in order to get up out of bed you have to consciously choose to pick that weight up and carry it again. You can feel the lovely release of sleep slip away and the various and sundry physical alerts begin to wake up in your body.

Hey there, your head really hurts today. Maybe the weather is kicking up.

Hi, jaw here, just wanted you to know that we’ve got some extra tension from that really great conversation you had last night so you’ll see some extra stabby moments from us today.

Um… yeah, it’s your back. You did something, or maybe you didn’t -hell I just work here- but whatever the reason you will be having some difficulty moving around today. I’m going on break.

You’ll get up and agree to carry these issues again because the other option is don’t get up. An option I hear some people choose but I personally believe all us spoonies choose to get up more than we choose to give up. So you move on with your day, dressing, maybe showering, eating, and then you will have other weights fall on you.

Joints here, did you know you can sprain your wrist picking up a box of cereal in the “wrong” way? No. Well now you do.

As you move through your day you will feel heavier and heavier until at last you are able to place the nearly overwhelming weight of your maladies into bed for a few hours of rest. If you can rest. If not, maybe a few hours of a good book or movie.

Sometimes the weight is harder to carry than others. Right now, for me, with the recent death of my wonderful and amazing support cat, I am really struggling to lift it all. I haven’t lifted a paint brush since she died. I feel all the pain more intensely without her here to help. My mind races with anxiety and possibility and doubt and fear. There is no furry face in my face forcing a distraction.

Without her support I find myself at sea, having to find new ways to carry the weight with me throughout each day.

In the meantime each little addition seems more personal, more targeted to make my day difficult instead of just something I have to move through.

My patience is frayed, I am restless and uncertain, and my body continues to pile it on, day after day, smothering me in the weight of a disease I cannot control.

So I shared some of it with you in the hopes the load lightens a little. Thank you for helping me carry it.

Missing you…

Sigh, yes you can take another picture of me.

Throughout the day it hits me. I’ll be working on my computer and you aren’t there to disrupt me, I’ll be falling asleep and my hand isn’t resting on your paw, your head isn’t resting on my hand. You aren’t in my face wanting to go out to your condo whenever the weather is good.

Most of all you aren’t here, ever present, on my legs while I deal with migraines, fibromyalgia, anxiety, etc. As a cat you weren’t ever trained to be a service animal but without fail when my life went off the rails you were in my lap.

When I was crying you would rub your face all over mine to tell me it was going to be okay. When I was sick and alone in the dark you would jump up on the bed and sit with me for hours. When my heart broke from losing my health, my career, my marriage, so many friends, my activities, my energy, my life you were there, loving me.

Even on the night when we had to say goodbye to you you comforted me. Your final act was to rub your little head against my chin, against Oliver’s chin. Your final act was to comfort us.

A small part of me will never forgive myself for letting you go. It doesn’t matter how many times I remind that part of myself that you were suffering, that there was no cure, that it was the right thing to do. I killed my best friend and the one creature in the world who was there for me through everything without question. I held you while they put in the medication and I held you while your life fled your body.

Now I sit with your ashes in a pretty little box. No more squeaky purr, no more midnight pillow raids, no more presence on my legs.

My emotional support cat is gone. Today I sit in my room with a massive migraine, horrible body pain, and a strange cat in my window. She doesn’t know to come to me, to curl up on me and remind me I am not alone in the world. She isn’t you.

You and I had a magical relationship. You walked out of a swamp 14 years ago and asked to come home with me and we’ve been thick as thieves ever since. I have hand made your cat food, taken you on walks in the mountains, and spent countless hours simply enjoying your presence.

Losing you is one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through. I feel your loss every minute of the day and I can’t imagine a time when I don’t miss you. A part of me died with you and the cruelty of death is there is never any going back.

I love you so much Hazel. Thank you for being a constant source of comfort, a bright spot of joy, and the best friend a person could ever want to have.