Isn’t it funny how you can re-learn something you already know? We knew to avoid “woulda, coulda, shoulda” as a way of avoiding stress, but we learned it all over again when our cat died.
Anyone who has seen me speak or watched my DVD can tell you how much we adore our animals. And they can also tell you about Lily the cat, also known as “The Urinator” because she urinated in the house in protest of too many other cats in the family.
She was quite a character, bubbling over with personality and engaging in her own brand of “being,” which we found quite entertaining. The way she walked (like a “tough guy”), the way she brought lizards into the house and chewed off their tails, the way she cuddled with us at night, the way she seemed to understand English when we spoke to her… yes, she was quite a character.
She seemed to be having difficulty in the cat box so I took her to the vet who determined that she had a “rip-roaring” urinary tract infection. He suggested we get a blood test as well to make sure we weren’t missing anything. In the process of taking the blood Lily had an intense reaction and fought like hell, so they abandoned the effort. The experience, however, left Lily in a state of shock. Have you ever seen a cat pant like a dog? It’s freaky. Very freaky.
I kept a close eye on her after we got home; checking on her every 30 minutes or so until I found her lying in the open, eyes glazed over; Lily was no more. It was very traumatic to find her there, and both my wife and I were stunned and very sad.
At first I started with, “I ‘coulda’ checked on her more often” and “She ‘woulda’ been okay if I had just refused the blood test” and “I ‘shoulda’ left her at the vet so they could keep an eye on her.” It was torture; I was sad and upset enough as it was.
Then I remembered something that I already knew: all the “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s” in the world won’t revive her. No matter how much I beat myself up, our beloved little pal wouldn’t be coming back to us.
So I stopped doing that. And I felt a little better.
It’s really easy to blame yourself after-the-fact for things you could have done differently.