Sunday, January 10, 2010
Have you ever witnessed someone or something die? Until yesterday morning (with the exception of plant life), I have not. In 2001, I spent a lot of time with my sister at our Grammy’s house during her last days. They did not expect her to be with us 2 months, but she decided to hang on that long. I remember coming home from work and preparing to go to Grammy’s house. I called my sister to see if she wanted me to pick anything up on my way over. She gave me a short list. A few moments later she called me to let me know our Grammy was gone. I headed right over to the house, the list completely irrelevant now. My sister was worried how I would handle it if I had been there at the very end. I knew I wouldn’t have been able to handle it if I had been alone, but I don’t really know what I would have done had I been there with them at the time. There were some people who told me to put Monster Paws down, that it was “the right thing to do.” That last night as he struggled, I wondered if that’s what I should do? I second-guessed myself and wondered if I was just being cruel to him? The truth is that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the decision. It ripped my heart out watching him. It was very hard on me, but what about him? If I were to drag his tiny frame to a vet, he would sense it. Why distress him? Why drag him to a sterile office for his last memories? Yet even on that last night he, he was aware. He was very aware of us, his surroundings, and what he wanted. He would still purr when we pet him. I carried him upstairs that night. At one point he must’ve made his way into the bedroom as I noticed he was lying on the floor at the foot of the bed. He’d spent most of his days up in that room since we lived here. At that moment though, he looked content. The next morning Hubby was kind enough to let me sleep in. When I made my way downstairs, Monster was laying on the carpet all stretched out, with the water bowl next to him. He did not lift his head when I came in the room. It was evident that his time was very close. It was very hard watching him and mentally prepare for the rest of the day at the same time. It was our Christmas get together with family that afternoon. I sat on the couch and cried for a long time. I finally got up and pulled out the ingredients to make a cheesecake for our gathering in a few hours. I was out of a key ingredient, and asked George to run to the store to pick some up as I got everything else ready. He had his coat on and was headed toward the door, but my heart stopped when he paused to pet Monster. I suggested he stay home instead. So he took off his coat and sat beside Monster. I grabbed a box of tissues and sat on the other side of him. He was never a lap cat, so we just sat there with him. Petting him softly, comforting him. I kept talking to him, assuring him we were there and that it was ok. All morning his breathing was shallow. We’d have to look very close to see if he was still breathing. But at that point he wasn’t really breathing, there were a few gasps with pauses between each. I’d wonder if he was gone, and then his whiskers twitched. His front legs moved. After a few moments his back legs moved too, but I think he was already gone and it was just the muscles. So the precise moment of when he was gone, I don’t know. His coat was still shiny and soft. His eyes were wide open. I kept stroking his head and the tears rolled down my face and I looked at the empty shell of my little “Spuddy Wuddy”. Then came the decision of what to do next? I found myself feeling like it was Dejvue as I went up to my craft room looking for a box. Wasn’t I doing this just a few months ago? Only this time I needed a much bigger box. I came downstairs with two medium size boxes. The smaller of the two was a decorative storage box. It was sturdier, so we decided to try that one first. I put in the blanket I had used to carry him outside just two days before. Hubby and I moved him together. I didn’t think the box was big enough, but I could tell Hubby thought he fit okay. To me though, Monster just didn’t look comfortable. Yes, I know he was already gone but that was not the point. Since he was already lying in the blanket, we were able to easily move him to the bigger box, then he looked comfortable. It kept taking me back to September when we lost the baby. Unlike Monster Paws, we didn’t get to see or hold the baby, nor do we have memories of or even with the baby; we only had futile hopes and dreams. But as we did in September, we’ll again have to decide on a final resting spot. Saying ‘Goodbye’ to Monster has been difficult in another way. You see, I had Monster for about a year when I got pregnant the first time. So Monster Paws was there during my pregnancy, and he was there when I lost my son to adoption. He was there that first Christmas Season when my son was gone and my heart was broken -- when I couldn’t sleep at night and cried most of the time. He was there for all the years to follow with each Mother’s Day when I looked in the mirror and hated myself. He was there for all the birthdays as I searched until I found just the right gift for my son. He was there to ‘help’ me wrap the gifts that I’d send. In a bizarre sort of way, Monster Paws is connected to my adoption story. And,well, losing him, feels like I’ve lost another piece of my son.