Teddy the Cat

I’m putting the following story behind a cut, because it deals with pretty traumatic stuff. I witnessed a cat get hit by a car. While I don’t get gory, I am factual and honest. I’ll understand if you don’t want to read it.

Two weeks ago, I witnessed as a cat got hit by a car. In the moment there was nothing I could do. I saw the cat bolt, and the car come, and I shrieked in panic but it was too late. The car didn’t even slow down, let alone stop.

Having just lost my cat about a month earlier, I think it hit me extra hard. It was somebody’s baby out there in the street. I asked out to the ether “What do we do?” My neighbor said, “I don’t think there’s anything we can do.” But he was wrong.

I ran inside to get an old towel, then ran into the street to tend to the kitty. He had already passed on from this world. So I scooped him up and got him out of the road. Once he was safely in my front yard, I checked for a collar, which thankfully he had. My partner, wanting to help, asked me for the number on the tag. I started to read it off, and then I flipped the tag over – there was an address! He lived across the street.

Before my partner could finish dialing the number, I ran over to the neighbors house. The door was answered by a girl who, at most, was approaching her mid-twenties. “Hi,” I said, “I’m you neighbor. I’m really sorry to tell you this but your cat has been hit by a car.” I held up the collar for her. Then she did the sweetest thing, she knelt down and hugged the big, beautiful dog that stood by her side.

Once she let go of her pup, she took the collar, and hollered back to someone else in the house to call their roommate, “It’s Teddy,” she said.

I extended my sincerest apologies, and told her I’d gotten him out of the street, and that I’m so sorry, and I’m so sorry. I mean, what else was I supposed to say. At some point I mentioned that I’d lost my pet, recently, but I really just wanted to extend sympathy. I wanted to apologize for the loss of her friend and for ruining her Friday night.

She sat with Teddy’s body until her friend was able to arrive with a box and transport him into it. She initially had tried to pick him up through the towel, and having done that with Gunter weeks before, I cautioned her against it. The limpness in the body of an animal you love is… well, it’s heartbreaking. I wanted to protect her from feeling that. I wanted to protect myself from seeing her experience that, and feeling it all over again, myself.

After they collected Teddy, they headed back towards their house. My next door neighbor, the one who said there was nothing to do, told me he was sorry I had to see that. I shrugged. I was sorry I had to see it too.

Once the initial drip of adrenaline slowed, I found myself asking Why? Why did I have to see it? What was the purpose? Was I supposed to be there to handle the situation? Why me? Hadn’t I seen enough lately? It was the first thing in a long time that made me consider a higher power, even if that higher power seemed cruel.

I will admit I am proud of myself for snapping into action. I have a history of freezing when things get intense, and the action shows how much improvement I’ve made in the realm of PTSD. I didn’t let shock get in the way of doing the right thing. I have to hold onto this, as it’s my only consolation.

Since that night, I have felt the PTSD symptoms crawl back into my life. The moment plays on a continuous loop in my head, and flashes in the corner of my eye every time I glance at the street in front of my house. I’m haunted by the feeling that another horrible moment is just on the horizon. That again, I’ll be made to witness some trauma that is out of my control.

I’m sure I’ll be processing that night for a long time. It took two weeks to be able to write about it, and to be honest, I’m writing about it just to get it out of my head. I can’t carry this on my own anymore. Maybe that’s the lesson – learning to ask for help.

I guess I don’t have a good ending for this story. It doesn’t tie up neatly or have happy ending. Just a reminder to keep your cats inside.

2 thoughts on “Teddy the Cat

  1. Erin

    This is the most heartbreaking story.

    I know it sucked, so much, for you to go through it–but I am so glad that you were there for your neighbors. For you to deliver the message (so much better, if that is even a word that can be used here, than just looking out and seeing what had happened) and also giving that little bit of (so, so hard-earned) advice about not picking him up — the value of that cannot be overlooked.

    I can’t understand or explain why things happen the way they do, but sometimes…well, maybe sometimes we just use the horrible things that happen to us to help other people with the horrible things that happen to them, to make their experience is a little less horrible. It’s not Norman Vincent Peale, but it’s something.

    It is no overstatement to say that this is a better world because you’re in it.

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