Some people might feel that blogging about something as personal as death is inappropriate. But writing is my therapy… so here’s a warning – this post is a tough one, and a personal one. But if it can help one other person through a tough time, then it’s worth it.
I had the devastating experience of putting a beloved pet down this week. My little cat Missy, who was only 8 years old, had to be euthanized Tuesday night. She was diagnosed with something unknown but ‘likely cancer and not good’ about a month ago, and we were watching for deterioration. We figured she’d have at least a year left. We didn’t see any signs until we got home from work Tuesday night and found her struggling for breath. We bundled her up and went to the vet. Once we arrived, the diagnosis was quick and certain – it was bad.
We did x-rays to be sure – we couldn’t make such a huge decision without being as sure as possible. When the pictures came back we knew it was time – I won’t share the details here, but needless to say… We now had a decision to make, on Missy’s behalf. It was awful. We laid our faces down next to Missy’s to look her right in the eyes. I would have paid so much money to explain to her what was happening, why we had to make the decision, and that we loved her. But the look in her eyes told me that it was actually she who was teaching us something; that we could give her one last gift as her care-givers, and that was to end her fear and her suffering of why she was feeling unwell, and let her go.
The vet sedated her so she could rest and be calm. She snuggled into my lap, and was far more calm than me. She even purred, a tiny bit, although she wasn’t breathing well. She was doing all she could to tell me that she understood, and was grateful even, as if she knew that we were helping her be OK. I stroked her head, and cried about how I wished she could understand my words. I recounted with her silly tales of birds out the window, sunbeam naps, and scary hail storms. Remember the time I was sick and you sat up with me. Remember how you looked when you were playing with your toy mouse. She listened and waited, and I cried and cried.
When it was time, I put Missy put back on the table, wrapped up snug in her blanket, and I sat with my head right next to hers. I continued to pet her, crying, telling her that it was OK now, no more pain, no more fear. I told her how I hoped she understood why we were doing what we were doing, and that I hoped she knew how much I loved her.
And then, amidst the chaos of my tears and the vet checking her vital signs, I suddenly saw her light go out. Her eyes did not close, but they grew dim, and then my Missy was gone. So peacefully, so gracefully. Just as she lived her life… she left me quietly, and with dignity…she was gone.
The next day was beautiful. Sunny and bright, exactly the kind of day that Missy loved. My husband said “She sent us this day, to tell us that she’s happy now”. And I believe him. We are fortunate, because we are left with happy memories and all the love she gave us when she was with us. We miss her terribly, and I don’t expect this aching feeling to go away anytime soon. But somehow, I know it’s OK. Because I know that when we left that vet’s office, my Missy was no longer there. I was blessed, in many ways, to live that experience with her. I saw her light go out — and I got to say goodbye.