Since some people in my Her Campus group have been writing about the meaning of their tattoos, I thought I’d give it a shot. As I am writing this, butterflies are piling up in my stomach. Why? Because this might be one of the hardest things I will ever have to write about. First off, here is my tattoo.
By looking at it, you may already have an idea of what it means. This tattoo hurt, but the story behind it hurt so much more.
When I was 6 years old, my family decided that it was time for us to get a cat. We drove to the humane society in Austin, MN. We looked at several cats which would have been great, but my mom had her eye on a specific one. She asked if she was able to hold the black and white fluffy cat laying in the cage in front of her. As she opened the door, the cat jumped into her arms, purred, and rubbed his head under my mom’s chin. At that moment, we knew this was the one. On the way home, we tried deciding on a name. We weren’t going to keep his shelter name because “Rick” is just not suited for a cat. After debating, we came up with the name Coco. Coco Cody Rye, to be exact.
Throughout my elementary years, he was my BFF. I would read to him, push him in a stroller around my neighborhood like a baby, and even let him finish my ice cream cones (is that even good for cats?) He would take anything, and he loved you no matter what. About 5 years ago, we welcomed a kitten into our family. Coco would bathe him and take care of him like he was his own.
In high school, every time I would cry, he would run up to my room and lay right on my stomach to comfort me. Somehow, he just knew. He wasn’t any ordinary cat; he was special. Anytime someone would come over, they would say something like, “this cat is super chill” or “I don’t like cats, but yours is different.” He won everyone’s heart with his own.
The month of June 2017, we noticed that something was wrong. He would sit and stare at the floor, wouldn’t move spots for hours, and he barely would eat. We took him to the vet and they subscribed some medicine because they thought it was just an infection or virus. After a couple of weeks, it got worse. Spit was coming out of his mouth because he could barely swallow it. I had to mash and heat up canned food for him to lick because he couldn’t chew either. I had a feeling something bad was going to happen, so I ordered us a “Friendship Collar.” For those of you who don’t know what that is, your pet gets a collar and you get a matching bracelet. I wanted us to be connected somehow, so I ordered us a black and gold polka dot collar/bracelet.
On June 21st, my mom called me from work and told me I need to take him in. I drove to the vet that morning, and they asked me if it was okay if they could put him to sleep so they could check out his throat. I started crying in the waiting room because I knew something was going on. The vet let me go in the room that he was in so I could comfort him. I hugged, kissed, and told him I loved him. I even said goodbye just in case. The vet told me they would call me with the result. I headed home bawling. After an hour or so, the vet called my mom at work and since they didn’t call me, they knew I wouldn’t have been able to handle the news. My mom called me and I could instantly tell that she was crying. She then told me, “Bailey, we have to put him down. They found a tumor in his throat.” I dropped to my knees and screamed. My body went numb; I couldn’t believe it. My best friend of 12 years was about to leave me. Thinking back to that moment I can still feel that sharp pain my chest. My whole world shattered just hearing those words. My mom scheduled the appointment with the vet to be the next morning at 9:15. I called one of my best friends, Karlie, and she picked me up so we could go get him. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing everything he loved and that involved being outside. That night was the last night we were able to fall asleep together. It killed me that he had no idea what was about to happen the next morning.
June 22nd, 2017, is a day I will remember for the rest of my life. I took him outside one last time, and he still attempted to eat all the grass he could. I gave him a tour through every room in the house, just so he could get a last glimpse of his home. My mom and I brought him into the car, and we took off for the vet. I felt weak. I held him in my lap the whole way there as we talked to him, telling him everything was about to get better. But was it? I couldn’t imagine coming home and not seeing him at the door waiting for me. I couldn’t imagine not falling asleep to the sound of him purring next to me. This just wasn’t supposed to happen. Not now; not ever. When we arrived, I carried him into the waiting room bawling. From the past 24 hours, there probably wasn’t one hour where I wasn’t crying. People in the waiting room looked at me like I was crazy, but they had no idea that I was about to lose a part of me. The vet brought us into a room. I held him one last time before the vet gave him his first shot. My mom and I left the room and stepped outside. As we stood there crying, it started pouring. Standing there in the rain, I couldn’t help but think that it was a sign from God that He was crying with me. We went back into the room to be with him as he got sleepy. I laid my head on his body as he was slowly slipping away. The vet came back into the room for the last shot; I kissed him and said goodbye. One. Last. Time.
After waiting in the waiting room, they handed me a box—a box that carried my best friend. We buried him out at my grandparent’s farm. He wore the black and gold polka dot collar, and I still wear the bracelet. After that day, I think I’ve prayed more than I ever have in my life, mainly to send a message through God telling him that I still love him, miss him, and that I haven’t forgotten about him. Knowing he is safe in Heaven has made things easier, and I am beyond blessed that God gave me such a great cat. About a year later, I decided to get a tattoo of a cat with a halo on its ear in his remembrance and for all the other cats I will love in my lifetime.