Nikki W
5 min readJan 5, 2021

I Hope Goodbye Is Not Forever

I’ve always liked cats, but I don’t think I truly loved them till I met Rainbow.

Getting out of my parent’s house was a blessing of freedom; my life was finally my own. I could stretch and breathe. At first, it was great. In my apartment, I had a reprieve from the torment they put me through. I could actually sleep in this place, no longer haunted by ghosts and negative shit. What I couldn’t calm myself down about, however, was the need to get a cat. I had told my now ex that we would wait before getting a cat, he didn’t want to immediately move out and look after a pet. That was a self-serving lie, deep down I knew I wouldn’t wait: it’s honestly an ever-present pattern in my life. My soon to be husband will tell you, once I put my mind to get something, it’s only a matter of time till I climb mountains to get it.

At first, it was just looking at the shelters many available cats. Then I found her. She was listed on their website with a picture of her laying down with a flower in front of her. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure it was a hibiscus (I hope it was fake since those are toxic to cats.)
Her name typed underneath said Rainbow. That name would prove to be perfect for her. I would normally never leave a new pet with a name picked by the shelter because typically they see so many animals the names arent exactly well thought.

I saw her in some weird bunny hutch with two stories and another cat that was pretty much just a living blanket. I never saw its face, it was fully covered in a beige blanket and it never came out. Hindsight makes me think it maybe had to do with the fact that Rainbow never really liked other cats. Rainbow’s tail was newly shaved and cut into her well-remembered half tail, it was an odd choice but everyone did love her nub that was just a bit too long. I miss her so much and wish I could see that little nub again, doing its little half-circle when she was fed up with my attitude.

I went into the meet and greet room and there was a neat line of plastic chairs up against the wall. She jumped on the first one and walked to the one I was sitting on, she laid down and immediately took a little nap on my lap. That’s really a sign no one should ignore, she obviously picked me that day and there was no way I was going to say no. Getting her wasn’t so easy since I alerted the staff that she was sick, runny eyes and nose. I had to keep calling this shelter for what felt like forever, and there was the misunderstanding that someone else was coming to pick her up. I still don’t really know what that was about. When I did finally bring her home, I learned that she hated being in a carrier. From then until her last vet visit she would always loudly let me know how much she hated it.

She was the most amazing cat I will ever meet. Everyone says that about their cats, I know, but Rainbow was different. She would lead children around like she was their cuddly tour guide, she always greeted new people in the house with her loud purring. All the vets loved her, I have other pets and no one ever got the attention that Rainbow did. Which is why I still don’t understand why she was only here for 8 years. I feel like there’s a hole in my heart without her. I can’t even get through how much I love her without a hard pang of loss. She was the first person that I ever felt loved me unconditionally, and yes I said person, I don’t mean to change that misuse of a noun. She looked after me; When I was sick she would lay beside me or on top of me. When I was depressed and sleeping in for too long she would come up to my face and boop my nose with her little paw till I woke up. She always purred so loudly and in the last two years I had with her she would lay on the top of me and my fiance’s head like some vibrating and soft cat belly hat. I woke up some nights completely off my pillow because in my sleep I decided she should just have my entire pillow. She really did deserve it after taking care of me for 7 years. I feel like I should write a version of the Gaston song but with Rainbow. No one loves like Rainbow, no one purs like Rainbow, no one has a weird raspy meow like Rainbow.

I know one day I’ll have to go through the pain again of a veterinarian telling you this will be the last year you have with your beloved companion. I can only hope the gap is a large one, because this one hit me hard and it’s been almost three months and I still cry at night sometimes. It’s when she passed away, in my arms, or next to me because I don’t really know when she went. All I know was that she was scared. Death isn’t pretty. I saw it on her face and I looked away. I still deal with the guilt, feeling like I let her go instead of fighting harder. It’s not the truth though, the truth is I did everything I could. We spent thousands of dollars taking her to the vet every 2 weeks to a month, doing blood work, giving her meds. Living with her peeing everywhere, the stress in our relationship, and the inevitable surgery that instead of curing her cost her life. I hated seeing my Rainbow like that. She deserved so much more. So when she collapsed and I knew she was dying, I also knew it was time to let her go. This wasn’t the life she enjoyed, she was hanging on for me and I was too afraid to see what my life would look like without her. When the truth was she wasn’t herself anymore, she hadn’t been for a long time. It was two years ago that she was diagnosed with liver failure and three different vets tried their absolute best to save her, right up until she drew her last breath. We all fought so fucking hard because the world needs more beautiful things like Rainbow in it. For me, through all the tears and pain and dark clouds, I know there’s a rainbow out there somewhere. I can hope that one day I get to see her again, for now, I’ll try and look fondly at the ones I get before I can hear that raspy little meow again. She loved me so much and I know the best way to honor her memory is to try my hardest to find a way to heal. She didn’t mean to leave and I don’t mean to waste all the love she gave to me.