On the ending eve of 2012 I’m reminding myself of how lucky and blessed we have been in 2012. 2013 signifies new beginnings.
The collar hangs on my Christmas tree now; the house eerily quiet without the sound of meowing. The veterinarian, Dr. Rodriguez, explained how some cats, when close to the end, hide; others become vocal and meow. Instinctively, cats are predatory and make minimal sound; even when very sick. For the past few days our house echoed with meowing from a cat that, for almost sixteen years, was tranquil and calm.
I never grew up with pets so I soon realized I had an affinity to cats. Shadow was intelligent and independent; learning to open drawers and doors from our ferret. Her black coat always shiny, she toileted independently and could self-feed. She was not high-maintenance, and save for a few pets and scratches under her chin, she’d lazily lounge nearby; ever watchful. Attuned to my moods, she would purr and hover nearby if I was sad. In the five full deployments, various training exercises and excursions Dave went upon she would resume sleeping on his side of the bed until he would return. Then she’d proceed to ignore him for a day; as if angry that he left us.
Dave and I mentally were preparing for this day. On a whim we called our local veterinarian at 11 AM and learned they closed at noon today. As we sat in the exam room, together, we cuddled to keep her warm (her temperature was five degrees below normal, as was her heart rate) and discussed end of life issues. Shadow has lived almost sixteen years; a life that grew from the two of us to a family of five with a multitude of pets. Someday when I am in this same position I want Dave to make this same choice for me.
In my mind I told myself that the death of our cat would not be as painful as burying both of my parents. But as the shot was given and her still warm body went limp I realized the fallacy in that statement. Death of a loved one: a friend, a child, a parent, my beloved furry feline, is always painful. Time stopped for her today. R.I.P.