Heaven would not Heaven be without my cats to welcome me. ~Unknown
I’ve been dreading today for over 18 years. You can only evade Death for so long. The Grim Reaper seems especially fond of our pets. He gives us so little time with them. Ten years, fifteen, twenty if we’re very lucky. Herman fought a valiant fight. He endured daily kitty-sized doses of six different medications—enough heart meds to keep Vice President Chaney going for a decade. My old cat tolerated subcutaneous fluids. However, recently it became obvious that Death had cast a wistful and unwavering eye on my Herman Gea.
Several years ago, Herman started peeing outside the litter box, biting and yowling relentlessly. Blood tests pointed to hyperthyroidism. Hypertension (high blood pressure), arthritis and kidney disease, joined the geriatric disease fray. Once Herman started taking meds, he turned back into his gregarious, mischievous old self. Some days he accepted his pills with more grace than others. I still have scars on my hands from those nights when he did his best Garbo impersonation and conveyed, “I vant to be let alone.”
Despite consistent nursing for three years, a few days ago, his weight dropped, his old man gait grew more wobbly and he began drooling, a sign of nausea. Yesterday his blood told the story; his kidneys could no longer support his body; his 18½ year old organs were cascading into a tsunami of failure.
This morning my Dusty Rose Herman Gea began a new journey. As he rested beside his beloved water fountain, I joined him. We sat quietly together, a silent final few moments. My fingers ran through his cashmere coat for the last time. I told him how much I love him and how he changed my life. Herman looked at me with tired eyes and resignation. The time had come.
I saw no fireworks when Herman left this life. No choir of angels mourned his departure. But I believe they sang upon his arrival.
Even with my other pets, and four rambunctious foster kittens bouncing around the room, the house feels empty. I expect to see him in his favorite hangout spots. My heart has a van-patterned hole in it. My eyes ache; a knot binds my stomach. I feel like I’m underwater. Everything around me moves in slow motion.
I know nothing will ever fill that kitty-sized hole—no dog, no cat, no human. Nor do I really want to fill that void. I know tomorrow will be easier than today. And hopefully soon I’ll once again be able to laugh about all Herman’s crazy antics. Today I’ll just ask St. Francis to scoop my little Turkish Van up in his arms and give him a kiss for me. Someday I’ll be along.
About the Author (Author Profile)
communications. She also serves as vice president of the Cat Writer’s
Association. With 25 years of animal rescue under her collar, Dusty has
rescued or fostered over 1000 cats. She’s author of Kittens for Dummies
and Cat Wrangling Made Easy.
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