On Monday I had to euthanize my dear old friend of 14 years, Miles the Wonder Cat. I'm hurting...
I've been posting in a couple of other threads while I try to come to terms with losing him, so some of you here already know about this and have helped me so much already. Some of you have helped even if you weren't responding to me directly, but to others in need of support. onyxdad, heartsick, Johara, jimbo106 (I'm taking your advice), ginny (of course!), you've all been so much help already.
Something happened today that finally brought me to the point of starting a thread for my buddy. I was making the bed this morning, which I haven't done since that awful day and an amazing thing happened.
I found one perfect whisker from my friend.
That was just too much...I cried for 15 minutes solid...and then I put it in a little tin box I have. I'll treasure it...and probably fall apart every time I see it for a while.I'm going to have to do this in scattered bits and pieces, the way my heart feels right now. I can't get very far into what I'm trying to say before I have to stop, having lost the train of thought in grief and memories. I don't want to lose even one of those memories, so I've started a list of titles for each and add to it every time I think of one. I'll then pick one at a time and write about it. This process is for me, to make sure I don't lose any of them, but knowing someone might read one and actually care about it is a good thing. That and there's just so much to write...
Like onyxdad, I hadn't really noticed that Miles was losing more weight than was healthy. He seemed fine and was behaving normally, except that he had been eating less for the last couple of months. I assumed he was just getting older and didn't have the appetite he used to. That's true of me too. Last week he started eating so little I started to worry and made an appointment with the vet for last Saturday. We started giving him anything he would eat, roast chicken and turkey, tuna, steak...I even bought him a shrimp ring. He LOVED shrimp, but even these delecacies were received without much enthusiasm, but he did eat. When we got to the vet on Saturday, he had lost 3 pounds, down to 7 from the 10 he's been at for years. They said he was a little dehydrated and took blood and urine and said they'd have results on Monday. I hoped it would turn out to be diabetes or thyroid issues, something treatable.
Miles ate nothing from that point on, only taking water, and weakened so very fast. He didn't want to be picked up or held in a lap, but he did hang out with me and his mom. He'd lie down with me on the couch for a little here and there and slept with me for an hour or so a couple of times and then would return to the floor. By Monday, he was wobbly on his feet and moving so slowly and looking so sad and I was close to frantic. I phoned work and let them know I wasn't coming in and stayed home to await the results. Miles was by now lying pretty much in one place and fading in and out. His head would ever so slowly fall foreward until it was being supported by the tip of his nose. Heartbreaking...
The vet finally called and said the tests had come back essentially normal and that they suspected cancer. They would require more tests, x-rays and maybe even exploratory surgery to proceed, but that might not help and there could be more that they would need to do. The vet felt something in his belly that may have been a mass...or may have been scar tissue from his accident and surgery years ago. I'm not a well-to-do person and this was not an option I could afford at all. There's a guilt trip for you, "Sorry, Miles but I'm just not rich and successful enought to keep you, my dearest friend, alive." Besides, speculative surgery was not something I was willing to do to him, but I'm still having guilty episodes, as in "You're a bad furdad who can't take care of his responsibilities."
So I made an appointment for a few hours later to have him euthanized...
I spent his last few hours lying on the floor with him and rubbing his head and talking to him. He seemed ok with that. I supervised his last couple of ever-so-slow visits to the garden as he hadn't used a litterbox for years. He spent a little time sitting in his chair on the porch, too.
When it was time to go, I took him to say goodbye to his mom. She cried and kissed him goodbye and I carried him to the car. No carrier for Miles the Wonder Cat, he liked car rides as long as it's with his dad.
(...I keep finding myself writing in present tense about him and having to change it...maybe the English language needs an absent tense...)
He lay in his usual place on the passenger seat and watched the trees go by. The radio was on, but it was political commentary and was becoming really irritating so I put on the local university station and another amazing thing happened. The first thing that came on was the very start of the third verse of a song by a friend of mine, a song I hadn't heard in quite a while.
So here I am, I'm driving to the vet to escort my best buddy to Rainbow Bridge and the RADIO says to me:"There are those who would teach us
That if the spirit is to grow
Avoid being overwhelmed by the physical realm
Learn to let go"
I'm sure that those words, at the right time and place, gave me the strength to go on and do what I believe had to be done, and to be calm and loving for my buddy...until he was actually gone, of course.
This part was added June 11, almost 4 weeks later. I've been unable to write this before now, but I feel like I really need to, to exorcise a demon or three that's gnawing on my heart today.
Caution: there's a lot of detail here. I'm sorry if it's upsetting, but I NEED to say this somewhere and hopefully this is the place.
Upon arrival at the vet, I took care of paying the bill first and then sat down to wait. It was only a minute or two before they told me the room was ready. I carried Miles into the examination room and held him until the vet arrived. Miles was always very good at the vet and this was no different. The vet came in and explained the details of what she would be doing, giving Miles a sedative to relax him for the proceedure, giving it 10 minutes or so to take full effect and then she'd be back to "administer the anasthetic." As usual, Miles took his shot without a peep, such a brave boy.
Within a minute, Miles was visibly more relaxed, resting his head on my arm, eyes half-closed. I held him and told him I loved him and that everything was going to be all right, like I always did at the vet. I kept that up until the vet and a technician returned with the next shot. I had Miles pratcically enveloped in my arms, holding him from one end to the other. The vet said they'd need the back half in order to work, so I let him go and moved around so I was face to face with him, rubbing his face and head the way he liked, and kept talking to him.
They shaved a bit of fur from his hind leg and inserted the needle. His eyes went from half-closed to wide open and he meowed twice, an unthinkable demonstration for my brave boy. The vet put her stethescope to his chest and the technician pressed the plunger. I said "Goodbye, Miles. I love you." Within about 10 seconds the vet said he was unconscious. Within about 30 seconds, Miles gave a single long sigh and she said his heart had stopped. Miles was gone.
I was completely numb. After a minute or so, I tried to close his eyes, the way they do people on tv and found I couldn't. (I still don't understand that and in the worst moments it haunts me.) Someone brought in a little cardboard coffin with a blanket in it. The vet and I placed his limp little body in the box and we covered him with the blanket so that just his head, one shoulder and an outstreched arm were visible. We closed up the box, I thanked the vet out of reflex and carried him to the car. As usual he rode in the passenger seat. I couldn't bear that for more than 30 seconds once I was on the road, so I pulled over and opened the box so I could stroke his head as usual during our car rides. His little ears were cold, but the rest of him was still warm, so I did the best I could to warm them up again with one hand.
I had brought all his food with us as the trip to the vet passes right by the Lakefield Animal Welfare Society, a private no-kill shelter. I stopped there to give them Miles' leftover food. I told them Miles the Wonder Cat was donating the food he didn't need any more. The two ladies at the desk made some sort of sympathetic noises, but I couldn't tell you what they said because I could feel the dam bursting. I made it back to the car and broke down, huge racking sobs while I caressed his little head. I have no idea how long I sat in the parking lot there, my heart shattering, crying my eyes out, apologising to Miles and telling him I really did love him.
I was finally able to get back on the road and finish the drive home, one hand still unable abandon contact with his soft fur. It was raining by the time we got home again, which somehow seemed right. I brought him onto the back porch, went to the shed to get a shovel, and began digging his grave. Once I was done, I opened the box again and laid two sprigs of bleeding hearts (one for me, one for his mom) in with him and one dandilion (because he was my "dandy lion" went the reasoning at the time) and his squeaky furry mouse. I took off his collar ("You won't need this anymore where you're going, buddy." I told him. "You'll always be safe now."), kissed him goodbye, closed the box and finished interring my dear friend. I took his name tag from his collar and put it on my key ring, where I intend to keep it forever.
I changed clothes, cleaned up and passed out on the couch. Later that night I attended my first Candlelight Ceremony here. I'm not at all sure how my keyboard survived the soaking I gave it.
Here's where the original post resumes...
I brought him home and laid him under "his" tree where I can be close to him.
That's all I can write for now. There will be more, and happier, stories. Goodbye Miles. Love you forever.
Edit: And another amazing thing happens...I clicked "Save" to post this, wipe a tear or two and...LITERALLY...the sun comes out for the first time since last Saturday...it's been raining and overcast ALL WEEK.
Miles under his tree in better days