Symbolic Loss

Both my Mom and Dad died many years ago, and in my adult lifetime I’ve lost many cats with whom I shared a deep bond. None of these losses has inflicted as deep a pain on me as losing my beloved Diego. Since that day, I’ve been reading a lot about grief – trying to make some sense of my feelings.

This last week something has been trying to push up through my subconscious, then BAM! there it was:

Your pet may also represent the last link that you have to a special person, place, thing, or time in your life. Loss that is associated with another, significant loss in your life is referred to as a “symbolic loss”.

The unexplained sadness I’ve been experiencing since moving to Hootersville suddenly made sense. I’ve been grieving the loss of my previous life. All this time I have been carrying around a “ball in a box“. (That ball got even larger with Diego’s death.) Diego was the final link to my life in Santa Clara…

When I visually think of Diego, it’s always in that bedroom. In OUR space. In that room we became inseparable. It was during those years that I began to expand this website. To write about anything and everything that piqued my interest. I created “Diego’s World” to give him a voice here, too.

I’ve always felt awkward being photographed and hated the resulting pictures. In that room, with Diego as the only observer, I started taking pictures of myself. I experimented with lighting and angles. These “sessions” took place in the wee hours of the morning after I’d come home from seeing a local band (or two). I was fully made-up and dressed to kill. Sometimes Diego would join me. Posing for a picture still makes me a little anxious, but with Diego as my assistant those early-morning photos would be the best I ever took; and after a night out I looked forward to that down-time with him.

I also loved our Sunday mornings in bed. We’d take selfies and watch the widlife running through the tree right outside our window. He also started expanding his communication skills, creating a special language recognized only by the two of us. I can still see him with his front paws propped on the edge of his bed (on my bed).

Diego was independent, wise, and fierce. I dearly loved that time when it was just him and me. I miss that cozy space. I miss him in that space. I miss me and him in that space.

My decision to leave the Bay Area – a placed I had grown-up in – was done with the best intentions for both of us. It was a decision made out of hope for the future. Although I knew that the changes I faced were going to be nothing I had experienced before, I viewed them with the typically carefree optimism of an Aries. Diego had no choice in the matter. Where I went, he went. Six months later, he began sneezing small amounts of blood. I changed to unscented litter and the issue subsided. Then it came back. I researched allergies in cats and thought it might be the drier air here (I was having allergy issues). I bought a humidifier. The symptoms came and went. Until last December when the issue finally revealed itself to be a tumor. Would he have developed this tumor if we had remained in Santa Clara? I ask myself this every day. I don’t have a good answer. Add to my grief a heavy layer of GUILT.

Yesterday I was in the South Bay and drove past where I used to live. My insides were crying. I suddenly realized how much I had severed to forge this new life. Even if a life-altering decision is made voluntarily, the changes it brings can be difficult to navigate.

The 3-card spreads I’ve been pulling all point to a path of self-discovery. This is just one “ah-hah” moment among many for me.

I can’t move forward without letting go of the past. So, I find myself mourning the loss of both Diego AND my former life. This grieving process may take longer than I expected…

ℳ –


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