Sitting here with my morning coffee, I can hardly see the computer screen through my tears. I have gone from soft, silent crying to full force, hurting-my-gut weeping. My beloved “Tommy” is by my side and he is dying; I know you understand when I say it is killing a part of me too.
My head turns to the right to look outside my breakfast room windows and see the beautiful woods and birds at the feeders. The hummingbirds are active too, defending their feeding territories, preparing for their long journey before winter arrives. My head turns to the left and I see my beautiful cat of 12 years, my sweet buddy, who has heart failure and is declining rapidly. It happened so fast. Right now, he is a lump in the softest pile of blankets I could find.
I am very good at care-giving, making people and pets comfortable, but I cannot fix this. I cannot fix his heart or bring his vitality back, neither his playfulness or fun spirit. Right now it feels like he has a foot in both worlds and we are forced to say goodbye, either through God’s will or ours, very soon. I’m afraid I’m not very good at saying goodbyes. Lately, it seems I am saying goodbye far more than I’m saying hello.
One might wonder how a little cat could bring a strong woman to her knees emotionally. At the time Tommy came into our lives, I was a single mom and working very hard. One day I was outside gardening and I heard the tiniest cry coming from the woods. It wasn’t a bird, so I had to go investigate. What if some little creature was in trouble?
Finally, I saw him among the leaves and twigs; a tiny little fur ball no bigger than my palm and not old enough to be weaned. I watched for a long time to see if mom would appear, but something must have happened to the mother or she abandoned her kittens. Tommy had crawled through a large patch of woods where I found him, hungry and scared. Certain death would have been his fate with birds of prey and other critters around here. The decision had already been made. With one swoop of my arm, I scooped him up and put him on my chest; when he started purring, he owned my heart.
From that moment to this, he has proven himself to be the coolest cat in the world. He comes when you call him, plays with you, nuzzles you, and will do anything for a scratch under the chin. Very loving, very sweet-natured. Now, he is at the end of his life, and I discovered last night that his diagnosis is exactly what my mom died from. I was helpless then and I am helpless now. The drugs help with breathing, but there is no quality of life. I know what must be done but it is ripping me apart. The vet said he is not yet in any discomfort and I don’t want that to happen.
Two days ago, Tommy came into the kitchen where I was checking emails on my laptop. In a manner very uncharacteristic of him, he stood up on his hind legs, reached his paw as high as that paw could go, and tapped me on the chest. I looked down into those bright green eyes; it was as if he was trying to tell me something. Something I didn’t want to hear.
Just this minute, I let out a whimper as I wrote that last line and blew my nose. Tommy got up from his pile of blankets and is sitting right next to me. He just reached up and tapped me again with the same paw, wanting to be picked up. He’s trying to say he loves me; he has succeeded. I whispered “I love you too, buddy” in his ear. He wanted me to swoop him up in my arms once again and put him on my chest, just like I did in the woods so many years ago when he was lost.
You just never know how or when paths may cross to change your life forever.
I must end this blog now, because this purring embrace with him is too precious.
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Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.
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