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Maeve was the first real pet my family ever had.

I’d spent years begging my parents to let us welcome a kitten into our home. When you’re a girl living under the same roof as four teenage boys, you naturally want another companion you can spend your time with.

It was at the beginning of December 2020 that my parents finally gave in and my brothers surprised me with the late birthday present. Maeve was the cutest little kitten with a uniquely intricate pattern and curious eyes that could light up any room.

Everyone in the family was completely and utterly obsessed with our little tabby. The moment we’d step foot home, we’d greet Maeve before even acknowledging anyone else. Similarly, she’d rush to the door and politely wait for us to come inside. We’d smother her with our affection and cuddles, so mesmerized by her beauty.

We watched her grow throughout the seasons and fall in love with us the same way we had with her. She was so friendly with friends and family that came over — we truly couldn’t have asked for a better cat.

But little did any of us know that our time with Maeve was so limited; we were barely able to watch our baby turn one year old.

Monday, September 21st was the last time I ever got to hold Maeve. The fun day I was having quickly turned into one of the worst days of my life as she passed away in my arms at 9:03 p.m. on the kitchen floor, a place where she’d often play.

They really don’t prepare you for how much the death of an animal hurts you. How much it traumatizes you and haunts you. It is a true replication of losing a family member and someone who means the world to you. There is absolutely nothing that could have equipped me for that moment, missing the opportunity to properly say goodbye to my best friend.

It all just happened so suddenly. She’d gone out for a couple of minutes and came rushing back struggling to breathe. Her two back legs had given out but she fought her way home to her family. We tried to help her but even our best efforts weren’t enough. It was simply her time to go.

The scene kept playing on a reel in my head along with every other memory we’d created together over the months. God, I’d do anything and everything to get her back.

Yeah, she’d poop outside of the litter box sometimes, making my books fall over, but I’d endure that and so much more to still have her at our side.

I just can’t bring myself to fathom how everything could change in a mere matter of minutes. How is it that someone can be perfectly fine one minute — and the next they’re gone? But it’s okay, right? She’ll wake up. Or I will, and I’ll realize that all of this is just a stupid nightmare.

Neither of those things happened, though. It was just the way everything was written, I guess.

Weeks and weeks of agony follow the death of a pet. You can’t bring yourself to do anything but lay in bed all day. School becomes the least of your worries and all you can do is reflect on all your memories together. You’re in a constant battle with your emotions that become extremely difficult to control. Suddenly you get agitated at the smallest inconveniences and develop a short-fuse that’s at risk of exploding any minute. You get mad at yourself, at the universe and those around you but it’s useless. Nothing is going to bring Maeve back.

Death really does have a weird effect on you. It teaches you things you never knew about yourself while highlighting the fragility and complexity of life. I’m still ridden by the guilt of failing Maeve and am in physical pain that we weren’t able to save her. But at the end of the day, I’m glad she was able to take her last breaths surrounded by people who loved her more than life itself. I’m grateful we were able to hold her one last time and I’m hopeful that we will be reunited again someday at the end of the rainbow bridge. My time with Maeve was undeniably limited, but it’s a chapter in my life that I will forever cherish and never forget.

Aishah Ashraf is a second-year journalism student at Ryerson University whose hopes to pursue a career as a talk-show host are fuelled by her passion to remedy the absence of female Muslim representation in the entertainment industry. When she isn’t writing, you can find her rambling on about pop culture, searching for new adventures to embark on, or binge-watching programs on Netflix like the television fanatic she is. 
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