It was almost 3 am. While the guests in the hotel were fast asleep in their rooms, there I was carried by my friend as I went home drunk… again.
I can still recount everything that happened that day. From a night of hard partying, I woke up to a number of bruises, a throbbing headache and a broken wristwatch. I laughed at myself for I couldn’t remember anything, but my musing was halted when a chat message popped on my phone.
“Ate, Duchess is dead.”
I was in total shock that I felt the Earth stopped moving for what I felt like hours.
Duchess was a Siamese cat that I adopted in October 2016. She rolled her eyes at me when we first met but purred right away when I carried her. She was my first cat, and hers is the first purr I’ve ever received. Right then and there, I knew she must be aptly named, Duchess.
She was a playful yet a moody cat. She loved going out, tendering me worried sick for days. But she never missed to greet me when I come home.. that is if she’s home. She was elegant like a royalty, yet doting like a puppy. Many times I thought we are similar in so many ways, and that my level of stubbornness has finally met a match.
She was my constant companion at home, especially during the time when my family members had to move to the islands to take care of my ill Lolo. She was my watchman, my confidante and my avid listener. She was only 4 months old when I took her in in 2016, and then she passed on in 2018. And it all happened when I was away in Cebu for a 2-month assignment. I left Duchess in a perfect shape with caretakers who fed her and her kittens everyday, and I couldn’t fathom what could have gone wrong? Where did the other lives go? Why didn’t she wait for me?
Days before Duchess passed, I had another episode in Cebu. But at that time, Duchess wasn’t around to watch me wail. I remember screaming in my hotel room cursing myself, cursing everyone, thinking of ways on stop feeling hurt, but at the same time praying that God forgives me and wakes me up in the morning. It was a hard phase to go through, and is something definitely difficult to explain, especially to those who haven’t experienced it themselves. But the demons in the head are real. And no matter how much of a logical person I am who wants science to explain everything, I heard them. And they told me to stop existing.
Duchess was there with me during the same episodes in Manila. Maybe she heard the voices too, maybe not. But she was always generous in allowing her furs to be soaked in tears. My fellow feline parents and friends said maybe Duchess missed me so much and died of depression. Maybe she thought I wasn’t coming back home. My cousins said she wasn’t eating too much since I left, until they found her cold and motionless that morning. But for me, I felt like Duchess gave up herself to save me.
Duchess’ passing was my final turning point. It’s funny because people always tell me to think of my son and of everyone that I will leave behind if I go. True, but what is hard to explain is that the reason why I wanted to go, was because I felt I wasn’t worthy to exist for my son. During those episodes, I felt that people around me will live better lives if I just go. During those attacks, I felt like I was a black hole despite how positive and cheerful I present myself to be in public. But when Duchess left, I felt that it was her hard way of telling me – “Hey, stupid hooman. Months of not being with you was my death. If I couldn’t survive not having you for months, just imagine Juno and the people who love you who won’t have you in their lifetime. You are great. You are loved. You are worthy.”
They say that God gives us pets for certain purposes. And with the short time He granted me and Duchess, I fully understood His reasons. As I remember Duchess on her first death anniversary in human years, I decided to get inked with a cat and a semi-colon. As they say, semi-colon means that the writer could’ve ended his story but chose to continue. I am the writer; my life is the story. And I chose to continue.. because I am loved and I’m blessed. And all the more, I was saved by a purr.
* If you are having thoughts about suicide or know someone who is, please know that there’s always someone for you. Please don’t hesitate to dial in (02) 8969191 or 09178549191. You are great, you are loved, you are worthy. Stay loved and blessed. *