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JohnFitzgerald

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Posts: 629
 #1 
Good Afternoon, Everyone,

It has been so long since I have been able to visit, too long in fact, but please do not take my absence for a lack of thought, caring, or love for you, the members of this wonderful, loving community, or, more important, the thoughts, caring, and love for our beloveds who first brought us together. It was the passing of our beloveds which first brought us together in grief, our desire to share love, support, and insight that keeps us together, and the memories of our beloveds on which we can offer our love, support, and insight.

And so I come to all of you today (belatedly it embarrasses me to say) to remember my little buddy Van Gogh, a true gentleman of a Tiger Maine Coon Cat who chose me to share his last years with, and brought me more love, loyalty, and companionship than could ever be imagined.

In March of 2003, I was invited by my stepmother Carol to come to her house to select a Maine Coon Cat. I had recently lost my "Nibbles" a tuxedoed Maine Coon Cat to a series of senior related illnesses that were simply too painful and discomforting to treat with no guarantee of success. Carol ran a foster house for Maine Coon Rescue and had many charges looking for a loving home, Would that I could have taken them all. I had chosen a silver tuxedoed Maine Coon / Tabby Mix, Socks, for my roommate, Jay, and was looking for a buddy for myself. I had seen almost all of the group when Carol brought me down to the garage and pointed in to a shoulder high crawl space, and introduced me to Van Gogh. I looked in and said "Hi, Van!" and was greeted back with a raspy meow, at which he point he walked right out in to my arms...…….

It was love at first sight for us both.

I knew I had found my companion. He chose me on the spot, and I said to Carol, "You know he's coming home with me, don't you?"

I picked up both the next day,

Jay and Socks got to know each other, and when I brought Van in, I put him on the living room floor. He walked around the room just once, then lay down, and began purring, a loud purr that would forever become his trademark. He was home. 

Over the coming years, we would develop an unspoken language between us. When I was lying down on the couch, if he walked by and looked up at me, I would flutter my fingers to him as an "all clear", and he would jump up (climb up?), lie on my chest and start purring, as we would share our nap time together. Sometimes, he would walk by if I was watching television, I would pick up his brush which I kept on a lower shelf of the coffee table, make a couple of brushing gestures, and he would jump up next to me, ready for his grooming, just like he had an appointment.....:-) God, how he loved getting brushed. When I would come home from work, I would put my key in the door, I would hear this loud thud on the other side, and whether it was upstairs, downstairs, anywhere, he would always race to meet me when I stepped in. He was always a true source of comfort during rough days, loyally listening to me when I needed someone to talk to and confide in, and always a gentleman when guests came to the house. Sometimes, I would believe that he thought he was the host, always so calm and gentle with strangers, even with young children, who could sometimes be very animated. He was never phased. 

At the end of every day, we also had a special regimen, sometimes just during the day, where at bedtime, or just if he walked by, I would reach to him, scratch behind his ear, and whisper "Daddy loves you". I could never say that enough to my little buddy, as I wanted him to truly know how special a part of my life he had become. There was never a truer best friend / companion.

During our time together, Van did have his health challenges. He had developed feline diabetes, but whenever we went to the vets, even for routine visits. he never raised a fuss. In fact, when we would go into the cat's waiting room, he would just lie on the bench next to me, again, purring loudly, as though he knew that these visits were to help him feel better, or keep him feeling better. When he was diagnosed, he was so gentle even during the needles he needed, the pills he had to take, and adapted to his special diet and special food. He eventually was "cured" to where all that he would need was the special diet. His doctor even once joked with me "He's no diabetic anymore, but he really wants to be". The staff came to love him almost as much as me. We enjoyed our years together, and while we both got older, we adapted to our respective changes.

Sadly, in the spring/summer of 2011, my little buddy's health began to deteriorate as would occur after his fifteen some years of age, labored breathing, lethargy, and the like. On a very dark Wednesday in June, 2011, I saw his  symptoms had become extreme, and I rushed him to the nearest 24 hour animal hospital. After some tests were run, it was determined that my little buddy had suffered a collapsed lung (A common affliction of Senior Maine Coons I was told), and had also developed a severe infection which was not responding to the antibiotics. He was kept in an oxygen bed, but could not leave it without discomfort. I was presented with a series of options for him, painful, invasive, not certain they would work, and it was on June 24th, 2011, I had to make the hardest decision I had ever had to make, and that was to protect my little buddy from a promise I made to him when we first met, namely, to protect him from pain, discomfort, and to always do whatever best for him. I told his doctor to wait for me, so I could be with him. The ride down to see him was so hard, but Van needed me, and so when I got to the hospital, I walked in, and after talking with the doctor, went to the room where my little buddy lay in his chamber. The door was opened, and I got to see him, saying, "Hi Van!", and was once again greeted with his loud purr...….

We spent some quiet time together, and I let him know I would forever be with him, and as the doctor tended to him, and as he made his journey Home, I scratched his ear one more time, and let him know that which was ever true...."Daddy loves you".

God that first weekend, I could not stop sobbing. I kept looking for him around doors on some level, thinking he was there, and then would cry all the more when I realized he was not there. It was so painful, I wanted so much to find someone, anyone, who could understand the depth of grief.

And so I found this community.

Everyone, For those who have been in this membership since those seven years ago, your love and support during this milestone has been cherished beyond words, and has helped get through those days when even seven years later, the feelings can become fresh again (Tears as I remembered my last minutes with him before he made his journey). I can say that in gthe years that have passed, my little buddy has actually come to visit me both through signs and dreams, and I know that one day in the future, we will reunite and continue our journey together. It does not mean, however, that I do not think of him every day, and miss him terribly.

If I may, everyone, may I ask that today, as you remember your beloveds, and I remember them with you, may I ask for your thoughts for a truly special Maine Coon Cat, one who rescued me as much, if not more, than I rescued him. Please know everyone, that my thoughts, hopes, and prayers are with you and your beloveds, now, and always.   


All is well with love,
john
 
jrinphx

Registered:
Posts: 1,355
 #2 
John,

We have both been here for years and I feel like I know you and Van Gogh.  Your words brought me to tears.  Your love for Van Gogh shines through in your words.  It is so hard when they leave us but never having them in our lives would be even harder.  I truly believe their energy, their spirits are with us and I also have had signs from most of my angels letting me know they are still here, only in a different form. 

JoAnn - Jackie, Chan, Daphne, Scarlett, Noir, Stan, Thomas and Bob's mom and mom to many other Bridge babies.   
goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,191
 #3 
John,
As with JoAnn, I too have been here for years. I remember when you first came to this board and I remember your posts about Van Gogh as well as your posts to others here to help them through their grief. The stories you told of Van Gogh could have very well been those of my beloved Blackie and Squeeker. We both found each other later in their lives and I was blessed to share their final years with them. Like Van Gogh did with you, both Blackie and Squeeker rescued me - Blackie was the one that re-introduced me to the joys of sharing my life with a cat and Squeeker helped me get through Blackie's passing. Blackie has now been gone for over 10 years and Squeeker's 1-year Bridge Day anniversary was this past Memorial Day weekend. Their deaths were very difficult periods in my life, yet like you, I would do it all over again without a moment's hesitation. And even though they have both been gone for some time now, I do believe they are still with me, only in a different form. I am positive the same holds true with you and Van Gogh...

Hugs and peace to you as you celebrate the life you and Van Gogh shared...

- Kelly
Angel Blackie's mom
Angel Squeeker's mom

KatMomWolf

Registered:
Posts: 277
 #4 
Good evening John
as always it is with great feeling reading your tribute to Van Gogh.. your Outreach to all of us that we learn to give .we learn to lose and we learn to give back. I am sorry if this is a little bit late but I will always remember you and Van gogh and enjoy reading about him I also feel like I've known this little man let us keep all of our furbabies close in heart as
. The anniversaries go by as the days go by... not a day without our memories..

Circle of friends and love

Katmomwolf4 and bubbles
ourbrandy

Registered:
Posts: 1,010
 #5 
Hi John:

I don't come here very often but when I saw your post about Van Gogh I had to write.  I've always felt I actually knew Van Gogh from all your stories about him.  The two of you shared a very special love and bond that can never be broken.  And you always end with "All is well with love."  That is so true...

It recently was Brandy's 5 year bridge anniversary and I found myself very sad that day just remembering her last earthly day.  I still just miss her so much.  Since that time we have had to say goodbye to our Miriam too - it will be a year this November that we lost her. One of my daughters said "Mom, you shouldn't be sad."  I really don't know how I can stop that emotion.  It's not as if I cry daily but these anniversaries just seem to bring it all back.

I know that personally you have helped me with all your posts and I know you have helped many others too. I am so grateful for this forum.  I don't know what I would have done the last 5 years without it.

Sending hugs to you and your special gentleman Van Gogh,

Barb (Angel Brandy's and Angel Miriam's mom)
~forever~
InMemoryOfRascal

Registered:
Posts: 2,440
 #6 
John, I am sorry for the delay in seeing your post.  I remember you and your beloved Van Gogh.  The love the two of you shared was always so clear in your stories you shared with all of us.  I know it is hard to believe that 7 years could have passed - especially when the early days it was so hard to believe we could make it through one.  I came to love your Van Gogh thru your stories and have always been happy to know that my Rascal (and Rambo too) could be friends with your special boy.

Thank you for sharing your Van Gogh with me; and for helping me thru those early days 6 years ago when I lost my Rascal.  

To your Van Gogh - sweet boy you are so very special and never ever forgotten.  Love is forever.

Take care
InMemoryOfRascal...and Rambo
nnjnk3

Registered:
Posts: 121
 #7 
John, 

I loved reading your story about you and Van Gogh.....how very touching! 

Hugs to you as you remember your little buddy on this day.  Special thoughts to Van Gogh, what a very special boy he was.  He sounds so very handsome too.  

You really summed it up in saying that he rescued you....as much as you rescued him....  I must say, I had never really thought of it that way, but it's so very true.  I believe my kitties rescued me too.  They gave me so much support over the years...unconditional love through the good times and the bad times.  They always comforted me when I was sad.  They have that intuition, they just know.  Socks 16 years, Toby 15 years, and now my sweet Emma, whom just passed, 13 years.  They gave me so many precious years that I will cherish forever.  

I'll say a prayer for your healing heart and that Van Gogh visits you again soon.  

Thank you for your support over the years.  It's people like yourself that have helped so many of us get through the tough times of losing our beloved friends...

Take care,

Nichole
Emma, Toby & Socks momma =^..^=
afiroma

Registered:
Posts: 11
 #8 
Hi John, Thank you for sharing your story and for to still be here to give hope and support to the new and old crying souls on this site. I will forever be thankful to my daughter who sent me
to this site seeing me so desperate on those first 72 hours. One day I will be strong enough and will too share the story of my princesita "Bubi" as it will probably help someone else too on those hard moments. I just wanted to add I am a cat person at heart, but it was my little Yorkie who taught me my most valuable lesson "Unconditional Love". Thank You and God bless you and all the beautiful people who share PetLoss.

Yakelin
Bubi, Chita and Christy's Mom
JohnFitzgerald

Registered:
Posts: 629
 #9 
Good Afternoon, Everyone, 

Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts and words to help in remembering my little buddy
Van Gogh. Seven years, but never forgotten, forever remembered, and forever on one journey, separated for now but briefly until reunited in the future.

So many wonderful people in this community with so much love, insight, and wisdom to share.

Brought together in sorrow, always together in care and compassion.

Thank you again, everyone, and please know I continue to offer my thoughts, hopes, and prayers to all of you and your beloveds.


All is well with .love,
john 

Sara2018

Registered:
Posts: 17
 #10 
John,

Your writings of Van Gogh have such warmth and authenticity.

I am so sorry for your loss and treasure your encouragement.

I am new to the group having lost my Sara O'Hats on June 22 of this year.

What a wonderfully caring collection of animal lovers and a source of strength for my present weakness. I hope that, in time, I can repay some of the kindnesses.

Until then, thank you.

Sara's Mom
Northernlitez

Registered:
Posts: 446
 #11 
John and Van Gogh

My thoughts are with you both today. Still tears from reading your story Van. A beautiful story that most of us here can relate to beyond words. I remember someone on here once telling me with great love comes great grief eventually.....so true. Thank you John for sharing a little of Van's life and love here. I don't get here much either anymore, but when I do, it's good to hear from those I remember. Although I don't wish anyone to have to be here, being here means we have known a bond and love that are priceless. In that sense, we are so blessed. 
Mondo

Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 994
 #12 
Thank you John.  Beautiful and heartfelt, and of course as I read I thought of my Tuffy and our "unspoken language".

We here share something so deep, an understanding beyond words.

Love never dies.

Hugs,
Tuffy, Toby, Ellie and Missy's Dad

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