My New Year’s Day began with a cup of hot cocoa and a few hours watching the Rose Parade. But the day quickly turned sour with a painful cry upstairs.
Betsy, my tortoiseshell cat of 18 years, was in distress. I knew her days were numbered. Multiply 18 times 7. How many animals live to be 126?
Kidney disease had plagued her for a year. She was on special foods prescribed by the vet and she drank incessantly, usually trying to sneak a few laps from my son’s favorite cup.
But this was different. She stopped eating and nothing I tried worked.
Two days earlier, we had rushed to the vet who attempted a blood draw. Betsy’s veins were collapsing. Kidneys were failing as well as the liver. Maybe extra fluids would help.
We tried, but her time was up.
So I spent the rest of New Year’s Day following Betsy around the house as she tried to get comfortable. She searched out dark corners. Animals will often search for a place to die – alone.
I told her what a good kitty she had been, how she became the model for Gabriel in my Reverend G trilogy, how she was famous on Facebook. I petted her, held her, kept my tears blocked. Expected her to die that night yet was grateful she didn’t.
I hoped and prayed, fervently, that Creator God would take her so I wouldn’t have to make that final decision.
But hope doesn’t always work out with a beautiful ending. Death is a consequence of life.
Although I grew up on a farm and have owned a plethora of pets, I never needed to put an animal to sleep. But Betsy’s cries were laced with pain.
Love does not allow suffering.
January 2, 9:18am. The vet and the staff at the pet hospital were compassionate and kind. My son and I had several moments to say goodbye. Then a couple of simple injections and she was gone, asleep in my arms. My tears finally released.
It has now been almost a month, and I still listen for her meow when I come home, wait for her to cuddle with me at night, cherish her satisfied purr.
Then I remember how hope deferred this request and left me bereft. Although I treasure the years of Betsy’s companionship, I am sick of death and loss.
The unconditional love of our pets reminds us how needy we are, how important is that sweet connection, how we can comfort each other by just being present.
Ah, Betsy – I will miss you forever. Thanks for letting me love you.
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