One year has passed since I lost Rock. It is difficult to comprehend and it seems like such a vast amount of time, and yet I worked hard to get here. The grief is lighter now but he is never far from my thoughts. Eighteen years is a long time and now I understand what a gift it was.
When Rock was diagnosed with kidney failure I sometimes took refuge in the countryside to grieve so he would not sense my sadness (he was amazingly sensitive to my feelings). I found myself driving one particular route most often, past horse farms and open meadows, and eventually I made it my "grief drive." In the months leading up to his death, I grieved in anticipation. In the days, weeks and months after his death, it became an important ritual to help me grieve his absence.
I continue to take my grief drive, though there is no real pattern now. Surrounded by the beauty of the countryside, I am free to grieve openly; my sunglasses are huge and the roads are mostly deserted. I can release whatever grief has been building up and be done with it. And, I can talk to my boy and tell him how much I miss and love him without worrying if anyone will understand (I doubt most would understand that one can have such a strong bond with a cat).
This grief ritual has helped me immensely and I can't yet imagine the day when I will no longer carry it out. But I know that day will come. And, when it does, it will be all right.