Live Life Like Casey

Live Life Like Casey

Dealing with grief is hard. It’s complicated. And sad.

Last Friday, I lost my cat Casey to cancer. He’d been battling it for 2.5 years, and despite him being so fierce and brave, the cancer caught up with him.

I wasn’t sure whether to post something here on my blog. Most of you are here to read about completely different topics; this isn’t exactly what you signed up for. It doesn’t feel like the place to post about all of the memories and emotions, yet it also didn’t feel right not to post anything at all, to ignore it and pretend it’s not happening. Grief is part of life and it will happen to all of us. I’d rather show what I’m going through and admit how challenging it is, than put on a shiny, happy facade that it’s all okay. So maybe this isn’t a blog post for you; that’s okay. But I need to write this and share this here.

I miss Casey so so much.

The past week has been terribly painful as the flat just doesn't feel the same. It’s full of memories of him, especially as I’ve intentionally spent so much time with him over the past months as his health declined. I’m lucky that with my going freelance, I often got to work from my couch with him right beside me, giving him as many cuddles as possible. But it also means that everywhere I look a memory of Casey is lurking around the corner, ready to come up on me and hit me in my heart.

One way that’s helping me deal with all of this is try to look at how Casey himself would have approached it. He had such a big personality, and that’s also why the flat feels so quiet now. This may sound like a cheesy way to monetise or commercialise my grief, but honestly writing always helps me clear my head and my thoughts, and embracing the values of how Casey lived his life feels like the best way to keep his memory alive.

Be yourself: Be curious, be cheeky, be courageous

I adopted Casey together with his brother Dusty at age 2 in 2010. He turned 16 in February, so he had been a part of my life for so long and he had such a big presence. Case was somehow the smartest, silliest, kindest, and naughtiest cat I've ever met.

Casey was curious about everything and everyone. He’d stick his nose where he wasn’t supposed to, always keen on exploring what was around him. He loved meeting new people and was immediately friendly and affectionate with everyone he met. He had a cheeky streak, where he’d do something that he knew he wasn’t allowed, but would do it anyway while looking you straight in the eye.

He was unapologetically himself.

Casey reminds me that wherever I go I need to be myself. Be comfortable with who you are and what you want to do, and be unapologetically yourself.

Enjoy every bite of food

Casey loved food. Not just his food, but any food. I never knew a cat who liked human food as much as he did (which he absolutely wasn’t allowed to have though, since he also had kidney problems from a young age). He once tried to run off with my pizza. He loved the smell of lasagna. He was the most Garfield cat I knew. We’d always had to be careful with leaving any type of food out, cause chances were that Casey would be interested in it.

And when we’d give him his actual food… he’d absolutely enjoy it. He’d devour every morsel, enjoying every second of it. He didn’t get that many treats cause of his kidney issues, but the ones he did get he’d savour. Casey taught me to enjoy every bite of food and savour the experience.

Ask for what you want

Given his love for food, Casey could be a very demanding cat. Whenever he was hungry (which was often), he’d seek me out and encourage me to give him more food. I say encourage cause throughout the years, he tried out and varied his different tactics to get my attention. He’d get super close to me to give head boops and lick my fingers, trying to be as cute as possible. He’d figure out how to make as much noise as possible by scratching or knocking off things. He’d stand behind me and huff in the same way I do when I get frustrated (which I still think is a behaviour he copied from me). He’d sit next to me and paw at me, tapping at my shoulder politely. He tried so many different things over the years.

But he always knew that he had to ask for what he wanted. He knew that if you wanted someone to pay attention to you, you had to go out and ask for it. It reminds me that I need to speak up and say what I want, to show people what I’m looking for.

Embrace the silliness

Casey was a weird and silly cat. I loved that about him. He could be so bright and clever, but silly as well. Occasionally he would chase his own tail, while in the bathtub or on top of a bookcase. He’d run circles until he caught his tail, bit it, startled himself and then would start looking for whoever had dared bite his tail! He loved to sit in the bathtub and the bathroom sink, but only if someone was watching him. He loved to chew on plastic, so we gave him Ben & Jerry wrappers to bite on. He knew the sound of the Ben & Jerry wrapper from a mile away and the moment you’d touch it, he’d come running for you. He reminds me that it’s okay to have moments of silliness, to just be weird and funny for the sake of it.

Seek out the sunshine

Just like your typical cat, Casey loved the sunshine. Our current flat only gets direct sunshine in the morning, yet you’d always find Casey lying perfectly in the optimal sunbathing spot. In our previous flat, the sun would move around the house, and as the day went by Case would migrate from the living room, to the bedroom, to my office, following and seeking out the sun throughout the day. It’s a reminder to me that I should always seek out the good: focus on the positive and do the things that I enjoy. You can’t just wait and let it happen to you though; just like the sun moves throughout the day, you need to be actively seeking out and exploring the opportunities that you want.

I’m not ready to have things go “back to normal” yet. It’s hard to focus and I want to sit with my grief as well as all the happy memories of Casey. It will take a while for me to feel the same again. So much reminds me of him and taking care of a pet with cancer is nothing I would wish on anyone. Each day gets a little easier, I know it just will take time.

Reminding myself of all the good memories of Casey though helps. Reminding myself of how he would have wanted me to live my life helps. Reminding myself of all the weird quirks and behaviours that made Casey him helps.

I miss him so so much.

If you have read the above and want to show your support, please feel free to donate to the Rumba Foundation in Casey's name.