Letting Go – When Pets Die

The tears are fresh, still lingering just under my lids. I can’t believe she’s gone. She was just here, just snuggled up warm under the sheets with me, how can she be dead?

Last night my sweet kitty woke us up screaming in pain. She came into my bed, told me something terrible was happening to her and she needed help. After rushing her to the emergency vet, we were told that she had a large blood clot in her heart, it was terminal. She also had fluid around her heart, apparently there was something happening inside her before the clot hit her.

It makes sense now why she’s been so tired lately. But she was a cat… they have lazy days in the sun, and I didn’t think anything of it. She was healthy looking, her coat was clean and she was active when she was playing. I keep asking myself if there was something I could have done to have stopped this.

I knew as soon as he came in, the look on his face, we were going to have to let her go. But how was I supposed to let this happen?  I just wanted to take her home, crawl into bed and snuggle with her longer.

For anyone who has ever had to make the call to euthanize, it is the worse kind of pain to watch that needle go in and to know that it is your call that is ending their life. That weight is on you.

Twice now I’ve watched as my best friend told me it was time to let them go.  That pain is indescribable.

Our pets, our furry friends, are family.  For some, like myself, they are our closest friends, the ones that we know won’t let us down, won’t turn their backs on us, won’t leave us feeling confused about our relationship. They love us unconditionally, without rules or limits.

From the moment I saw her, dirty and scared, full of fleas and full of determination not to die on the streets, I knew she was part of my heart. I swore to her that I’d do everything in my power to give her a better life, to never hurt her, and to be strong enough to never let her suffer a day for me. Last night I made good on that promise, I let her go quickly as soon as I knew she was in pain.

But it is us, those left behind, that are in pain.. hearts broken.. trying to adjust to this empty feeling and not knowing how to move forward just yet.

I keep thinking of how she came to us, she was dying… she was a feral cat, sick from starvation and being born from a sick mother. But there she was, standing on my porch asking for help.  The kids and I nursed her back to health,  I sat outside with her for hours each day talking to her and coaxing her to get closer and to finally allow us to touch her.

evil friendI called different places to come take her and give her a forever home, not wanting to admit that we were her forever home and she’d chosen us. She knew that nobody else would take her, she wasn’t a kitten and she wasn’t nice.

My husband was the one to ask what would happen if we cleaned her up and brought her inside with the others. What would happen was that she would teach us all about how to love someone who wasn’t always perfect, who loved to break your things, who would sit next to the TV and sing louder when the bad singers would come on American Idol. At night on a full moon, she’d sit in the moonlight window and call to “Carrrrrl!” We would laugh, even at 3am.  She’d answer back when spoken to, which made it easy to share all of your thoughts to someone who would watch you carefully and answer back.

The connection between companion animal and humans are strong, effortless, and often stronger bonds than with other humans. My sweet girl didn’t hold a grudge for me calling for her and causing her to get hit by a car when we first found her. Instead she curled up on my bathroom floor and spat out a tooth, looked up at me and asked to have her belly rubbed. That’s it.. no grudge, no anger, just love.

When I had her fixed, she almost died.  She didn’t come home angry, instead she came home and snuggled with me on the couch under a blanket. And when I have been sick or needed some ME time, she made sure that ME time included her… drooling on me through the hole where she lost a tooth and had a scar. But I wasn’t alone and she made sure I knew it.

Our sweet girl clawed a way into our hearts, scratched out her name so it won’t ever be forgotten, and now we have to learn how to let go… not of her, but of the pain of her loss so that it can be replaced with the love that she deserved.

Don’t be ashamed of your grief, let it come and show you how much you loved.  That you are alive and the emotions are proof that you are connected.

Sleep in the sunshine my beautiful girl.

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