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Yes, we still miss her

For whatever reason, about three weeks ago my young children had stumbled across some old photos of Presley and Precious together.  This spawned some discussion about Precious and of course – rekindled some not-so-pleasant memories of that tough Thanksgiving week when we knew that Precious was struggling day to day, and then having to bring her to the vet to say good-bye.  Last week, my wife’s cousin also came visiting and brought over some photos she had taken of Precious and Presley together at the old house.  The reaction was pretty much the same to them, and very hard to place out of our minds.

Time may heal old wounds, but you never forget.

Presley continues to sleep with us at night.  And I’m a little concerned with him at the moment as he seems a little sluggish.  He still comes when you call him, and he sleeps on my chest nightly. He is rarely demanding and is so good with the kids (even though they can smoother him more than either he or I like).  Himalayans tend to go with the flow – almost too much I think, and Presley is no exception to this rule.  But I do think about when the time comes when I will have to eventually say good-bye to him.  So many more years of companionship will be even harder to get over when the time comes.

Gigi has had a near personality change since I last posted.  The once shy Himalayan female that we adopted a few months after Precious’ passing has warmed up to us tremendously.  I’d say it took over a year for this to happen (and we didn’t think that it would).  Gigi picks her spots, and will curl up with you on the couch any time she can – a 10o% turn-around for a cat that wouldn’t go near us for so long, and preferred to hide and sulk over her miserable situation – separation from her previous owner who had been forced to give her up by daughter during a relocation.  Of course, some changes are indeed welcome.  She is also patient with the children who adore her; she never runs from them when they want to pick her up and carry her about.  She’s become a blessing.

Precious was still our first baby.  And we still miss the old girl because of the impact she had on our lives.  She certainly had an impact on mine.  We miss you Precious, and hope you are enjoying yourself on the other side of Rainbow Bridge.

It’s been two years since Precious has passed.  I still think of her everyday and actually, I had a low point about two months ago where I went back through the whole scenario over and over again.  Did we make the right decision?  Should I have given her more steroids?  Did I go to Tufts at the wrong time, during vacation, when they were staffed by just interns?

But you can’t go back in time.

But I can’t forget.  I won’t forget Precious.

So when some asks “Does it get any easier?” Well, the answer is mixed.  It gets easier in that she’s not suffering, but the compounding of the questions, and lingering questions of “what if” still build.

We miss you Precious!

 

Anniversary of her passing

Today is Thankgiving Eve.  It’s the one year anniversary of the passing of Precious.  It’s a particularly hard day for us as we think back on losing her only seven years into her wonderful life.

Of course, we have come to terms with the loss, but every now and then there is the second guessing and wondering if we did the right thing by her.  My wife has to remind me of how grave it was.  She wouldn’t eat, she hid in the liter box and she continued to lose weight.  And the doctor’s could not help.  It was a horrible time for her as well as for us. 

Occassionally my older daughter asks… is Precious in Heaven?  To which I reply as soft “yes”. 

Precious’ ashes are in a pretty box on the living room mantle in the new home that she never made it to.  Next to it, her picture is framed and placed on the mantle as a memory.   We all miss her very much.  But we will never forget our loyal friend.

Things we will miss…

PreciousxmasAs we trimmed our Christmas Tree last night, it wasn’t long before my wife said, “You know who would be here in all her glory.”  Of course, she was referring to Precious.  The picture left shows her a few Christmasses ago playing under the tree.  Precious loved Christmas, everything from the ornaments to the tree skirt – where she used to lay throughout the Season.

As we begin to come to terms with the fact that she’s gone, its a good time to remember her for the things that she used to do, that were unique in our minds.   These are the things that we will miss going forward – part of the void, if you will. 

Here are a few things that come to mind:

  • Upon entrance to our house, being greeted at the door, and then as if she was expecting someone “better” to have arrived, to be snubbed upon recognition that it’s “only you”.

  • Her coming to life at mealtime, and my sneaking her lots of left overs under the table, including poltry and fish. 

  • Coming back to find her sitting in my chair at the table when I’d get up to get something off the stove or counter

  • Sharing a few licks of Ice Cream (and whipped topping/cream – her favorite)

  • When the baby is crying, having her come down and bite my wife’s ankles to get her to do something to help the baby (and her crying out).

  • Her graceful play, and her unique high pitched scampering sounds

  • Her private fortress under the bed

  • Her sitting in her spot under the dining room table

  • Her carrying the “Little Green Man” toy all the way up the stairs (or down the stairs) and presenting it as “gift” to us with a cry

  • The fact that she used to groom me at night when laying next to me on the bed; sort of weird but it was her way of showing affection

  • Her attentive response to a high pitched offering of “fishie, fishie” (aka cat treats)

  • Her scampering in the snow on special occasions (she was an indoor cat)

  • Her darting out from under the bed to claw a string dangling just beyond the bed skirt, and darting back after missing (over and over); a fun game

  • Her soft motor pur

  • Her skunk swaggering walk (tail up)

  • Her way of eating – licking everything endless before moving to use her teeth

  • Her growling at Presley, late into the night, and their endless late evening battles

  • Her coming into our room at 2 or 3 (fairly regularly) in the morning, and waking us up by scratching the top of the dresser drawers, and then running away and hiding where I couldn’t reach her (repeat loop)

  • Her appearance at our Annual Christmas Party and social grace of taking a seat

  • Her pushing open doors (often for Presley)

These are but a few of the things that come to mind.  

Update on PresleyPresley has been very affectionate lately.  We try to engage him as often as possible in every family gathering and episode.  He’s been extra clingy to me since Precious‘ passing, which I’m happy to accomodate.  He’s sensed our sadness, and I’m sure he has some of his own – wondering where Precious is.  He’s been eating and drinking as usual (a good sign), and has spent a lot of time under his scratching post looking out.  He and Precious had a touch and go relationship, but she would often groom him for about 5-6 minutes, until the point where he would begin to bite her.  He often sat next to her or followed her and booted her out where-ever she was sitting.  That probably goes with the regular behavior of the alpha cat.

PreciousbdayI couldn’t write as much as I wanted two nights ago when she departed this Earthly plane for a better existence.  Now with a clearer mind, and my emotional state more stable, I can coherently make a few points.  And again, I remind you that some of this is therapy for me, and some of it is for other people who may go through losing their pet.

This post is divided into three sections.  The first, is the hellish experience of what it was like to bring our pet for euthanasia.

The second is to talk through the day after and the feelings of guilt that comes over you with having to make such a decision, and how I’ve started to deal with them.

And the third section deals with the void and where we go from here.

As I mentioned, Tuesday I brought Precious to the vet for one final visit, the hope was that the doctor could give her a steroid shot to see if she could perk up.  When we arrived he said that he could give her the shot but that after seeing her state that it wouldn’t do any harm.  I was puruaded by that argument to not give the short even though he was ready to administer it. I have to say that at this moment (and particularly yesterday), I wish I had said, “yeah, go ahead”.  For whatever reason I left that day, not giving her the shot.  Would it have produced a burst for her?  Yes, even if short lived.  This decision was on me, not our vet who was willing to do anything to satisfy my needs.  But the truth is that a steroid shot most likely wouldn’t have cured her neurological disease.

Wednesday was a long day for all of us.  In the early morning, I fed Precious food and water by syringe, and I dropped my oldest child to daycare in the morning around 9:15 am, and went to the dentist for my annual cleaning at 11 am.  Of course, the clock wouldn’t cooperate as time seemed to speed toward our 2:45 pm appointment.  I fed Precious some water and gave her some food by spoon (I wasn’t about to torture her with the syringe with two hours of life left in her – that seemed a bit unfair), and I gave her water via syringe.  I tried to give her some Cool Whip (something she used to enjoy, but she woudl have none of it).   Then I just held her for some time, and let out some streams.

My wife and I with our six month old in tow, drove to our family vet.  No pet carrier for the long ride this time, we wrapped her in a blanket and held her for the ride.  We arrived and brought her in, the people at the desk knew why we were there, and to say that the next twenty minutes were some of the saddest I’ve ever experienced is probably an understatement.

We brought her in, and left her in the blanket on the table.  The doctor came in, gave her one last examinination and assured us that we were making the right decision.  Sadly, the doctor prepared Precious.  We placed our hands on Precious and tried to comfort her. To make matters worse, Precious fought back (showing more vigor than she had the day before), pulling back her paws which made me second guess my whole decision right there.  It took the doctor three times to administer the drug by needle, each one was painful to watch.  Her veins were constricted which made it more difficult. And finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she faded off.

My wife and I just cried.  And cried.  We touched her head.

In a few weeks time, we’ll pick up her ashes and personal urn.  She was cremated by a reputable service, we were told. 

We thanked the doctor, he again assured us that our decision was the right one, and we left to pick up our 2 and half year old from daycare.

Obviously that evening was incredibly sad.  The details about our feelings that evening are not worth commenting on here; they are apparent.

The second part of this entry is dealing with the guilt.  Pet loss brochures talk about guilt you feel taking the step of euthanasia for a suffering pet.  But I cannot easily place “quality of life” in the same catagory with suffering due to injury or respiratory illness, or pain derived by other types of diseases.  So hence, my guilt is not so easily overcome by the logic of simple humanity.  And after all, we do not really know what Precious wanted to do. 

I know that she wouldn’t eat or drink on her own.  Did I give her enough time to try to do so?  I put food and water near her private area, near her own liter box.  She never went near it while we watched her.  Which is why we were feeding her by syringe.   

My last imbeded memory of Precious’s mobility is of her trying to crawl along the floor as she did the night before.  She was using her front paws to drag the rest of her body to find a place to hide.  But was she coming out of it?  Could we have waited a few more weeks, or a month?  That’s what I ask myself.  The true answer is probably no, she probably wasn’t coming out of it.  Central neurological disease doesn’t “go away”.  Could I have taken care of her and fed her by syringe for days, months and years?  To what end, 90% of her day was her laying in the same spot where she was last left unless someone picked her up and moved her.

Putting your pet down seems cruel, and feels cruel.  The alternative to this was watching her lose more body weight, have other bodily functions breakdown including kidneys, etc, and watch her become further depressed and disoriented.  But who wants to be the one to play God?  Who wants to decide who lives and who dies?  I’m sure humans go through this making decisions about humans quite often.

The last part of the guilt is not having spent the money to perform the MRI or CatScan.  $2000- $3500 is spending a lot of money (on top of what was already spent) to know specifically what was wrong.  But all the vets agreed that performing the Scans wouldn’t have produced a cure, since whether it was a tumor or disease, it couldn’t be remedied.  Second, the Scans may have revealed nothing at all they told us.  Still, I think what if it was something else that our x-ray didn’t show or the blood work performed couldn’t pick up.  I guess I’ll never know. 

My wife has reminded me over and over and over as I’ve tried to resolve the puzzle that if the doctors (all six of them) had felt there was something that could have been done, that they would have recommended proceeding with scans or full work ups.

I know I cannot fully heal until I can get it through my thick skull that I did as much as I could do within reason.  There was no hidden cure buried somewhere in a treasure chest for me to uncover that would have saved Precious.  There will be no voices from the sky to help me understand why Precious’s time was up, and what I could have done better.  What steps I could have taken, or should I have paid more attention to her behavior earlier, would I have been able to head this off? 

I guess these are all circular arguments.  But I need to come to peace with this.

Where do I go from here?

Clearly there will be a void.  More so for me since I adminstered her meds, food and water for 9 days through the end.  And Precious and I had a special bond.  Precious used to groom me at night in bed (I know it may sound gross to some of you) until I would say, “Thank you, Precious.”  And then she would stop and tend to herself after a few rubs and pets.  Those moments just can’t be replaced.

There will be a void for Presley, our male Himalayan (one year Precious’s junior) who is suffering too.  And don’t worry, he is getting extra love, and extra attention from all of us.  But we cannot be there for him 24/7.  It’s going to be hard for him being the sole remaining member of his species in the house.

I need to get over the grief.  Or better said, come to terms with the loss in a way that isn’t burdensome to my family (who are all grieving) or to others.  This doesn’t mean forgetting, as much as it means accepting.

This is probably hard for some readers to understand. 

What’s in the future?  A playmate for Presley?  We have talked about it.  Not as a replacement of our dear Precious, but as an addition to the family.  Mentally and physically, we are far off from making a move in that direction.  We have so much on our plate these days.  We even put off our moving effort so that Precious wouldn’t feel the brunt of moving boxes and continuous disorientation of every room (Cats are particularly sensitive to the whole process of preparing to move, and moving).

I think I’ve written enough for now.  Thanks for reading.

 

PreciouslastdayThis entry will be short.  I haven’t the energy to write the volumes I have in my head.  And right now I just feel incredible sadness, and a void a mile wide and a mile deep.  Like a hole in my heart.

Shortly after 2:45 p.m. today, our Precious entered Heaven. 

The sadness we feel tonight is overwhelming.  We miss our dear furbaby in a way I’m sure is foreign to those who have never had or lost a pet.

Since I cannot write anything original tonight, I’m going to republish two poems that have some meaning to us at this time.   I will provide more in the coming days about today’s experience.  Right now, we are trying to take care of each other, and our other Himalayan Sealpoint, Presley, who is clearly affected by this tragedy (also a quick note of thanks to those in the Petloss.com chatroom- thank you for your kindness and understanding).

The two poems are:  Rainbow Bridge by Author Unknown, and The Journey by Crystal Ward Kent.

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

THE JOURNEY

by Crystal Ward Kent

Copyright 1998 – All Rights Reserved

When you bring a pet into your life, you begin a journey — a journey that will bring you more love and devotion than you have ever known, yet also test your strength and courage.

If you allow, the journey will teach you many things, about life, about yourself, and most of all, about love. You will come away changed forever, for one soul cannot touch another without leaving its mark.

Along the way, you will learn much about savoring life’s simple pleasures — jumping in leaves, snoozing in the sun, the joy of puddles, and even the satisfaction of a good scratch behind the ears.

If you spend much time outside, you will be taught how to truly experience every element, for no rock, leaf or log will go unexamined, no rustling bush will be overlooked, and even the very air will be inhaled, pondered, and noted as being full of valuable information. Your pace may be slower — except when heading home to the food dish — but you will become a better naturalist, having been taught by an expert in the field.

Too many times we hike on automatic pilot, our goal being to complete the trail rather than enjoy the journey. We miss the details — the colorful mushrooms on the rotting log, the honeycomb in the old maple snag, the hawk feather caught on a twig. Once we walk as a dog does, we discover a whole new world. We stop; we browse the landscape; we kick over leaves, peek in tree holes, look up, down, all around. And we learn what any dog knows: that nature has created a marvelously complex world that is full of surprises, that each cycle of the seasons brings ever-changing wonders, each day an essence all its own.

Even from indoors you will find yourself more attuned to the world around you. You will find yourself watching summer insects collecting on a screen (How bizarre they are! How many kinds there are!), or noting the flicker and flash of fireflies through the dark. You will stop to observe the swirling dance of windblown leaves, or sniff the air after a rain. It does not matter that there is no objective in this; the point is in the doing, in not letting life’s most important details slip by.

You will find yourself doing silly things that your pet-less friends might not understand: spending thirty minutes in the grocery aisle looking for the cat food brand your feline musthave, buying dog birthday treats, or driving around the block an extra time because your pet enjoys the ride. You will roll in the snow, wrestle with chewie toys, bounce little rubber balls till your eyes cross, and even run around the house trailing your bathrobe tie — with a cat in hot pursuit — all in the name of love.

Your house will become muddier and hairier. You will wear less dark clothing and buy more lint rollers. You may find dog biscuits in your pocket or purse, and feel the need to explain that an old plastic shopping bag adorns your living room rug because your cat loves the crinkly sound.

You will learn the true measure of love — the steadfast, undying kind that says, “It doesn’t matter where we are or what we do, or how life treats us as long as we are together.” Respect this always. It is the most precious gift any living soul can give another. You will not find it often among the human race.

And you will learn humility. The look in my dog’s eyes often made me feel ashamed. Such joy and love at my presence. She saw not some flawed human who could be cross and stubborn, moody or rude, but only her wonderful companion. Or maybe she saw those things and dismissed them as mere human foibles, not worth considering, and so chose to love me anyway.

If you pay attention and learn well, when the journey is done, you will not be just a better person, but the person your pet always knew you to be — the one they were proud to call beloved friend.

I must caution you that this journey is not without pain. Like all paths of true love, the pain is part of loving. For as surely as the sun sets, one day your dear animal companion will follow a path you cannot yet go down. And you will have to find the strength and love to let them go. A pet’s time on earth is far too short — especially for those that love them. We borrow them, really, just for awhile, and during those brief years they are generous enough to give us all of their love — every inch of their spirit and heart, until one day there is nothing left.

The cat that only yesterday was a kitten is all too soon old and frail and sleeping in the sun. The young pup of boundless energy wakes up stiff and lame, the muzzle now gray. Deep down we somehow always knew this journey would end. We knew that if we gave our hearts they would be broken. But give them we must for it is all they ask in return. When the time comes, and the road curves ahead to a place we cannot see, we give one final gift and let them run on ahead — young and whole once more.

“Godspeed, good friend,” we say, until our journey comes full circle and our paths cross again.

Realization Day

Preciousbetter

Today I took Precious up for a Vet visit just to either receive a steroid shot, or to come to some finality about where things really stand.

Despite my best efforts, she’s lost quite a few pounds.  It’s been hard to get her to swallow the food being given to her by syringe.   I went through a period of guilt today, as if I didn’t try hard enough.  I swear she was getting as much food as I could get into her, and yet the results were inadequate.   I feel that I may in some way have failed her which is quite a painful thought.

After consultation with the doctor, and some teary-eyed discussion with my wife, we’ve come to a sad conclusion that it’s time for Precious to go to the Bridge. Tomorrow at 2:45 p.m. she will be helped to cross-over so that she may be fully recovered and play in the meadows and fields free from the harsh realities and limitations of this plane of existence.

Thoughts about death and dying are complex and none of us have the answers.  Admittedly, I’ve been struggling more and more with these kinds of questions lately.  And the question:  “Do pets go to Heaven?” is just another layer in the puzzle.  I know what I want to think and believe.   And even if it defies all logic and all rational thought – I want to believe that around 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time,  Preciouswill be playing in green fields and eating “fishies” to her heart’s content.  And I want to believe that when it’s my turn to go, that my Precious will be there waiting for me.

In coming posts, I will try to capture the happy moments we spent with this special kitty.  There are so many little stories and moments that they are worth remembering in the littlest detail.

Tonight I held Preciouson my lap for the last time.  I petted her soft head as she slept quietly, occasionally opening her eyes (probably more out of annoyance than anything else).   She’s resting in her special box tonight.

Tomorrow is going to be an incredibly tough day.

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