Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Hole Engulfs the House

Three weeks to the day after losing Dusty, last Friday Asuka followed him to the light. Her breathing had been getting heavier, and early Friday morning she had a fit where she was fighting to breathe and panicking a bit. At first we thought she was still doing okay, because she demanded breakfast, but she had another fit a couple of hours later.

I told Logan how she hadn't gone upstairs on her own in several days, she was wobbly when she walked or when I set her down on her feet, and seemed to be going downhill faster. She could barely even purr anymore. We found out later that she weighed only about three pounds, so she'd lost weight she didn't have to lose. The vet would be closed until Monday, and I was scared she would have more, and worse, fits over the weekend. It seemed the line between living comfortably and suffering had been crossed. When Logan saw her having the second fit, we agreed that it was time to take her in.

Both of us were looking for reasons not to, of course. After making the call, I spent the rest of the day with Asuka sleeping in my lap. My mind shrieked at me the whole time, telling me it was too soon, that maybe she would get better, that maybe a miracle was lying it wait.

But I knew it wasn't. She had cancer, and it was in her lungs. Just like my grandmother, who came home to die after learning that.

The visit was much like what happened with Dusty, except that the office was very busy. We sat on the exit side in two isolated chairs away from everyone else. A lady showed us into a small room we'd never been in before, and put the table down. I kept Asuka in my lap as she gave her the sedative shot. I petted her and repeated how much we loved her.

The vet assistant returned with another lady. If I weren't so upset, I would have found the pair amusing, like the Two Stooges, dropping cotton balls and whatnot.

I lifted Asuka up on the table and cried as she was given the final shot. We were told she might convulse, but that she wouldn't feel anything. Nothing like that happened. She merely stopped breathing. And then she was gone.

They left us alone with her to say our goodbyes. I asked her to please give our love to Dusty when she saw him. We petted her, I kissed the top of her head on her little orange spot, and we hugged each other and cried. We wrapped her up in the blanket they'd given us, and quietly left.

When we receive her ashes, we'll set the box up next to Dusty's on the shelf above the window. In the summer, we'll decide where we want to sprinkle them, so that they will always be together.

I don't think I've ever been this seriously depressed. I am having an extreme crisis of faith. I prayed for them both, every single day of their entire lives. These two cats were the first ones I'd ever had as indoor cats, and I was always impressed how much longer indoor cats lived, even into their twenties. So why was it not to be with these two? We did everything we could to keep them healthy and happy. I feel like I failed them somehow, like I didn't try hard enough, I didn't do the right things.

My conscious mind tells me how ridiculous that is, that we did more for them than most people do for their pets, that we gave them peaceful deaths with dignity. And I am grateful that we were able to give Asuka a year that she wouldn't have had with us otherwise. But I can't seem to convince myself. I feel like I will collapse under the weight of guilt.

Daisy seems to be at a loss. I swear she roams around upstairs expecting the other two to pop out at her.  Every once in a while, I hear her meow up there, like she's calling for them. She follows me around a lot more now. She's lying on the table next to the computer as I type this.

I keep thinking I see them sitting on the stairs, or on the futon, or on the bed.

I have cried every single night before going to sleep.

We've decided not to adopt any other animals for now. But we are seriously considering fostering homeless animals that are rescued from shelters before they can be euthanized. One such group has adoption clinics at Petzoo every once in a while, and I asked about it. We had adopted Daisy from another such rescue group almost two years ago. That way I can help as many animals as possible without becoming the local Crazy Cat Lady.

In the meantime, I'll grieve and grapple with the guilt and the pain. I have many friends doing their best to comfort me, and I am extremely grateful to them for their kind words and love.

Asuka had found us in June of 2003, perching herself on the porch railing of my in-law's house and waiting patiently for us to come out and welcome her. Dusty found us a few months later the same year, announcing his arrival on the deck during feeding time with a mighty thump. They gave us nine years of love, friendship, and much purring. I suppose that they both left us in the same year is fitting, but it should have been years from now.

Please hug your loved ones tonight, and tell them how much you love them.

"You know, someone has said that we should live each day as if it were the last day of our lives."

"Augh! This is the last day! This is it! I only have twenty-four hours left! Help me, help me! This is the last day! Auuuuuuuugh!"

" ... Clearly, some philosophies aren't for all people."

Got that right, Sally. Maybe I need a new philosophy too.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. I keep thinking about how long Buster will last. He's going to be 16 in Feb. He also seems to be missing Gaby and Freeda. He runs around the house as if he's looking for something. Mom

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