I lost my beloved Sammy cat on the 4th of May. One thing I'm grateful for here, is reading everyone's account of their grief...I no longer feel so alone.
Sammy was my soul mate, my teacher, my guide, my true love...for 17 years. My husband disputes this...he insists that he is number one...but what he doesn't seem to realize is...Sammy's unconditional love for me all of these years....has made it possible for me to love HIM. In fact, Sammy's constant presence in my life not only opened me to the idea of love, but Sammy helped me raise two children (all the fears that go with that!) and to see two Grandsons into this world.
What's ironic is....my husband gave Sammy to me over 17 yrs ago when I was still pregnant with our last child, and he didn't particularly like cats even back then. I learned that...miracles happen from the most unlikely sources when Sammy was given to me.
Sammy has been declining in his health for several years...albeit slowly. I think now, he gave me the gift of slowly adjusting to himself being gone...although, now, I think it was a flawed idea that isn't/didn't really work.
I didn't quite pay attention to the fact that death is a natural part of life. All I knew when Sammy was in my life...was that he meant everything to me, and it would take an act of God to remove him. I was never in the frame of mind of how I would deal with his "death", I was always grasping and hanging on to him like a life raft.
Wednesday morning I woke up to take my youngest child to school. My habit was, to take Sammy to his food bowl...he was blind, and liked me to take him to his bowl in the last months of his life. I did this, gave him kisses and told him I would be back soon.
You see, my entire existence was wrapped around my Sammy...every waking moment, and every second in between. I think I've had maybe 7 hours of sleep in the last two years, constantly waking up in the night to make sure he was ok.
And I didn't complain about the care I gave him at the end...I knew sleep would come someday...but if I didn't make myself available to him, my moments with him would be gone....forever someday soon. So I willingly became a geriatric care nurse for my beloved friend.
When I came home from taking my child to school on Wednesday of course my first stop was my room where Sammy was. He was fine, or so it seemed. He was on my bed resting peacefully so I left to go call my Grandson.
You see, it was my grandson's 4th Birthday that day too...I had sat in my office on the computer waiting for my grandson to wake up so I could talk to him and wish him a Happy Birthday. Once I chatted with him, I told my daughter I had to go and be with Sammy....so I hung up. This was maybe 2 hours after I had come home from taking my child to school.
I opened the door to my room and it took 2 seconds or less for me to know Sammy was leaving this earth on that day. When I got into my bed next to him....he scuttled away, he didn't walk...he scuttled...and then he urinated on the bed.
I knew in the depths of my soul it was over then. All of the months of sobbing in fear that he was going to die, all of the months praying that god would take him peacefully if he were in pain, all of the months of taking him to the cat box, or food and water getting one or two hours of sleep at a time, at most...came to a screeching halt.
I ran to my office and called my vet's office and described his symptoms, breathing heavily and with great difficulty, the urinating...and she said...bring...him...in...(these words sounded like huge ringing bells to me) as if I didn't know she would say it....and I dreaded it horribly.
You see...I was praying for months that he would die peacefully. I was holding him and telling him telepathically and with my touch....that it was ok for him to pass over if he were in pain, that I would be ok if he left. I did NOT want to take him to my vet and have my precious best friend die on a cold steel table...euthanasia was the absolute last resort to me.
Oh but no...euthanasia was in the cards for us that day, and when I realized I had to put my beloved cat in his carrier, because I was alone that day (Sammy never went to the vet in a carrier, he was always in his purple blanket, in my arms)...and then take him to my truck, and then drive him to the vet....I went into a near shock state. How the hell we got there safely....I will never know.
He cried on the way to the vet. Sammy...my once dignified KING cat, that we all knew was a black panther in disguise...he just had such a regal sense about him, Sammy my precious cat that never meowed....he didn't have to....he told me what he wanted with his mind, and if I didn't "hear' him...he smacked me with his rope of a tail, Sammy that had the smallest purr ever of a cat...he often made me wonder if he WAS a cat, he never meowed, purred or anything regularly catlike...was crying in his carrier on the way to the vet last Wednesday. It broke my soul...it was the beginning of the worst pain I've ever felt in my life.
We made it to my vet's office safely somehow. I opened his carrier when we got there and he had gone down 55 billion times more since we left home 5 minutes before! He was drooling on his paw, and trying to stand up, because he couldn't breathe. The girl that ran the desk was in an exam room with the doctor and no one was at the desk but me and Sammy. All I could do was pet his head and kiss him telling him I was there. I really don't think I have ever felt so lost and alone, than at that moment.
Sometimes you wonder why things so horrible pan out as they do when they are happening...as I was definitely WONDERING!! Then an elderly woman came up to me as I stood there feeling helpless petting my obviously dying cat. I never met her before, she was in the waiting room waiting for her own dog to be returned to her after a checkup. This woman reached out and hugged me, and told me she was so very sorry....she knew my pain.
I will never forget this woman reaching out to me at that moment. My soul was in shreds...I was trying to keep it together for Sammy so he would feel some kind of peace (yeah, like I could hide my soul shredding from HIM!) and this woman, came up to me and gave me the most human love...because she KNEW my pain...she briefly told me she had been where I am before. I think that woman healed me and Sammy with that act that day.
I was reminded of a woman I saw in the parking lot of my vets office about a year ago. She was sobbing, terrible sobs from her soul. I had gone into the vet to get flea treatments for all of my cats when I came out and saw her sobbing. I knew...I knew in my soul, that she had just lost her best friend. I went to her and held her for about five minutes. I told her I knew what she was feeling, and that my prayers were with her. Then I got in my truck and left. It didn't fall short on me, that my vets office was a place where people recognized each others pain immediately, and here, a year later....I was the recipient of the same kindred fellow love of a pet parent.
Finally Sammy and I were taken to a room and my friend at the front desk jumped into immediate action and got the doctor to come to Sammy right away. By then Sammy was even worse...and I was having a very difficult time keeping the horrendous tears at bay. He was trying to stand up, because he couldn't breathe. He was gagging, throwing up and drooling profusely....it was as if I had been transported into the worst nightmare you could think of.
My friend, the vet's assistant told me the Doctor would be in very soon. We laid Sammy down on that terrible cold table I was trying to avoid and the Doctor came in. My vet didn't say a word to me, he was just as emotionally caught up as I was. He shaved the fur off of Sammy's leg...and it was the beginning of the end for me.
My vet has seen Sammy through two bouts of melanoma on his nose and various other issues Sammy presented over the years. In fact I had just brought Sammy home from his office not 2 weeks before. Sammy's appetite had suddenly declined so I took him in. Sammy fought like a cougar that day to get blood. I hated leaving him, because he was blind. When I picked him up my vet assured me that Sammy was doing pretty good for his age! His thyroid was functioning normally, he showed no signs of disease...but he fought so hard they didn't get enough blood to test if he had cancer. Those words rung in my ears even though I picked him up from his cage and took him in my arms. I thought in the back of my mind...what if he has cancer??? At that moment it didn't matter, all I knew was that I was taking my precious baby home!
Now, here we were, two weeks later, me and my vet, and my friend that knew Sammy and the doctor was silent. The doctor shaved the fur off of Sammy's leg to access his artery easily. Sammy was in such huge distress that my mind couldn't hardly take it anymore. I had crossed the point of worrying about his health, and now I was worrying about his peace. My vet injected the pink fluid that stopped Sammy's heart. He was gone in...maybe two heart beats. I barely had time to tell him that I love him, and to thank him for everything he gave me in the last 17 years....and it was over.
I could do nothing but bend over clutching my heart, groaning in the most intense pain I have ever ever felt. I held on to my vet's assistant and nearly screamed, asking her what I was to do without my Sammy now??? I'm reminded of the show Six Feet Under here. The main character Nate, talks about how he witnessed a group of Italian women mourning the loss of their loved one. Nate's own father had just died, and his family owned a funeral home. There were "procedures" for grieving that his own family's funeral home condoned...and all of these procedures were quiet, silent and "socially appropriate". Throwing yourself on the deceased and screaming wildly in pain were not part of the "procedures" at his family's funeral home. Nate's argument was (and I agree)...how can a human being grieve if they don't FEEL it? I can tell you this...I failed all "socially appropriate" signs of grieving the day Sammy's heart stopped...I was just like those Italian women in Six Feet Under, grieving their lost family member...clutching my chest and screaming in pain. My vet's office was kind enough to allow me this very verbal pain that day.
After my vet's assistant was able to hug and calm me, she told me I could stay with Sammy for as long as I wanted, so I picked his little limp body up and held him close to my body and I sobbed like an animal. Again, those initial feelings of loss were so primal...so painful...I just couldn't do anything but sob! He was so limp...never, ever was I to feel his face rub mine when I held him to my chest, never was Sammy to lay next to my body at night keeping me safe and giving me feelings of unconditional love, never was I going to be able to hold his small black body and cry in his fur when things were off kilter in my own life...it was so horrid. I couldn't get his eyes to close either. Sammy was blind the last year or so of his life, and instinctively I tried to close his eyes...but they wouldn't close. It's an image I will carry with me forever.
My vet's assistant came in and asked me about the options available...I could take him home and bury him in the back yard....NO WAY! How am I going to bury my best friend in the freaking back yard? Sammy never went outside...never. It wouldn't make sense to bury him where he never was in life.
I could cremate him and have his ashes spread somewhere "nice". NO WAY that's MY best friend...his ashes stay with ME! Sammy was with me for his entire life...it made more sense to have his ashes with ME! So that's the option I chose...Sammy was to be cremated and given back to me in a special box that I could put his picture on.
I will never forget the last sight I had of Sammy that day. I softly gave my precious best friend to my vet's assistant. I insisted that she be with me that day, and thankfully she agreed. I handed Sammy's lifeless body to her and asked her to please take two of his whiskers and retain his leg fur for me. Then I watched her walk down the hall with him pressed close to her chest. I thank God everyday that she was there for me...and Sammy, as it's burned in my memory that she loved him so much to hold him close that day.
I left the vets office in pieces. I had to sit in the parking lot for a good 30 minutes to be able to drive home. Then came the "joy" of making the phone calls and telling my family.
My youngest daughter was still in school, I decided not to screw up her day to tell her that the cat she knew from the day she was born was now dead. I did however call my oldest child who has remembered Sammy from day one, and it was a terrible call to make.
My husband, who gave me Sammy all those years ago got an email...as he's in Afghanistan. And bless him, he's still trying to "fix" my pain of Sammy's death. He wants so much to make me feel better, and he just will not accept that Sammy's death is something that will be with me forever...it's a matter of learning to live with it.
My family has dreaded the day that Sammy would die. They all knew he and I were soul mates....everyone knew it was going to be like D-Day with his death....and they were right.
I have been on the worst emotional roller coaster since Wednesday. It's funny...I still have my grocery shopping list for that day...and that day seems like an eternity ago....the world indeed stopped when I came home without Sammy....his carrier is still in my truck.
I did however get his ashes back today. I made a ceremony of it...of sorts. Instinctually I had to do things in a certain order. I left Sammy in the arms of my friend at the vets office on Wednesday, and today I picked up a small bag with his remains, and several items to read and a candle.
I took the candle out and lit it. There was a half broken heart pendant in the bag...half for me, half in Sammy's crematory box with his remains. I put the pendant on my gold chain immediately. I read his death certificate and the absolutely healing poem enclosed...then I took his box out of the bag, wrapped in blue tissue paper. Slowly I unwrapped it and then attached a picture of him I had waiting for this moment.
Now Sammy and I are on a new path. He can no longer lay next to me, and rub his face on mine to show his love, or swish his tail in disapproval...we are on a path to heal together, and by god...I was given this precious soul for 17 years so somehow, someway I will find a way to heal...so I can be open to him.
I don't know where to go from here....so I found this site. I can only hope my post isn't so infernally long and verbose that no one understands who Sammy and I are.
Blessings to everyone