Friday, April 13, 2012

In Memoriam Our Abbey Cat - Family Time Weekend

Abbey Cat, age 11, about 2005
I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
             - Lord Tennyson, 
               excerpt from In Memoriam A.H.H.

Saying "hello" always means saying "goodbye" later.

Shortly after Darling Bride and I became engaged 18 years ago, we said hello to one, then another, Siamese cat.  The second one ran away a long time ago so she doesn't fit into the story much.  The first one, Abbey, became as much a part of our family as any pet to any family.  Suddenly the expression "pet parent" doesn't sound as silly as it did on the pet food TV commercial.  Our kitten had been part of "us" before we became an "us".

Consider what has happened in Abbey's 18 year lifetime:
  • We got married
  • We bought a house
  • I turned 30
  • Darling Bride turned 30
  • We had a son
  • I changed jobs
  • We added a third cat
  • We took the third cat to the humane society after she bit people
  • We had a daughter
  • We had another son
  • We bought another house
  • We added fish
  • We added a bird
  • We added another bird
  • More fish and a frog
  • The fish, birds, and frogs left us (the birds were given away)
  • I turned 40
  • Darling Bride turned 40
  • More houses
  • More jobs
  • Sons and daughters grew up to be 14, 12, and 10.  They grew up with their cat.
  • I turned 45.
So our pet wasn't just passing through.  She was a permanent fixture, even though we knew better, even though we knew all good things must come to an end.  Is 18 years about right?  I don't know about expected life spans, but 18 years was not enough.

This week we started making the observations.  "She seems to be walking funny."  

"Why yes, she does."  

"Has she lost weight?"

"When's the last time we filled her food dish?"

A restless night worried.

Dried blood near her lips.

The vet found ulcers.  Kidney failure was her final illness.  Blood tests confirmed the inevitable.

I left work early and listened to the kids.  They said goodbye this morning, so their weekly karate training seemed appropriate.  Don't blame them.  So Darling Bride and I made the drive to the vet's alone.

Our vet has been in practice for 45 years, he says.  He's treated Abbey before.  He and his staff compassionately explained the process (I've never done this), and he gently guided us through.

We must have a blessed life to pamper a cat for this long, and that this, among all that can go wrong in life, is what saddens us right now.  As of this writing, the house is quiet, we've returned home and karate pickup is a few minutes away.

Darling Bride blogs about Abbey Cat here.

What next?  Grieving is an open ended question it seems.  When the time is right, a cat rescue is in our future.  When?  Part of what makes the discipline of crafting a remarkable life an adventure.

1 comment:

  1. I am going to remember her most for her desire to just be wherever we were in the house. "L" time is going to be lonely without her. I pray God will bless us again one day, in His timing. "I'd give a home to all those rescue kitties, if ever one day I were Queen!" Meow.