Sunday, July 28, 2013

Annie Passed Away

My cat Annie passed away a week ago today, in the very early morning.

I've written about her before - my angel kitty, 17 years old.

I've put off writing this entry, thinking I could write it more easily if I waited.

This appears to be a futile strategy.

She had kidney disease.  The vet said she was defying her numbers as the kidneys said there was almost nothing left of them, and yet she still acted like a cat who was feeling pretty good.

And then there was nothing left.

Her kidneys could not keep up with the lightness of her spirit.

It all happened fast, and I thought there was still a chance.  Her rapid decline started with what seemed to have been a stroke, which is why I still held out hope - a different symptom, maybe, but not the end.  After the stroke, she was unsteady but still walking in a waddling sort of way.  But she always had walked like that, with a swing of the hips - this was just more pronounced.  I also felt pretty clear that she wanted me to give her the chance to rebound.  She was drinking, trying to eat.  At one point, she took her little paw and curled it around my finger - like she was holding on, to get better.  And when I took her to the vet, and told him I was trying to let her come back from this episode, she waddled over to her pet carrier and got into the bag.  "What she said," she seemed to say.

Then I thought, I am making this up.  Really, I'm just holding on because I can't stand for her to be gone, and I'm looking for signs to convince me to hold on.  But I have always promised her that I would let her go when it was her time.  It had been 15 years, that she was in my life.  She was 17 1/2 now.  Maybe it really was time.  I didn't want to break my promise.

So on the Friday night before she died, I asked for a dream.  I had a dream about my mom's husband Jim, who passed away a few years ago.  He came for Annie.  She wouldn't go with him.  It comforted me.  Whatever was going on, Annie wanted to do it on her terms.  And I wanted to let her do that.

When the vet called that morning, she was still drinking water - or trying, with limited success on her own (and then I helped her, and then she could).  They said to see how the weekend goes.

Saturday night, as it just did not look good, I held her.  I didn't want to hurt her, but I didn't want to miss the chance to hold her one last time.  She seemed so glad that I did. She put her little paw on my cheek, like she always did.  She patted my heart.  I had my other cat Alex curl up beside me.  She was so weak, but she shifted her weight across me so that she was close to him, and she put her little paw on his back.  He let her, and stayed right there.

I put her in her pet carrier - a place she always found comforting - and slept next to her as she slept, petting her often.  About 12:45 a.m., something went up her - her soul? - I saw it - and then she meowed, once, almost as if in surprise, and was gone.

I'm sobbing as I write this.  I'm still so sad that she's gone.  She was the anchor of our little family.  Cat Alex has been really mopey, lying in all of her favorite places.  I am trying to keep him comforted

But I feel like we did good, Annie and I.  As dying goes. She had discomfort but no real pain, I think. Conventional wisdom would have said that I should have had the vet put her to sleep.  But she didn't seem to want that - whenever I checked in. And I was not about to let the vet take her life from her, or that way, if that was not what she wanted. "We will do it our way," Annie and I said.  And Frank Sinatra nodded from afar and said, "Let them."

Saturday, July 6, 2013


"She was a good girl" - is what we all have said.

My friends' strong and good greyhound Ivy passed away recently.  She was on a walk - her favorite thing - on a beautiful day - her favorite kind of day.  It wasn't that she had been sick.  Instead, she unexpectedly had a massive heart attack.

Our hearts have been broken at the loss. 

My friends adopt greyhounds from the race track.  They have had different dogs during the time that I've known them, these past 15 or so years - usually two at a time.  They have ensured that their dogs have nice days in their latter years, have welcomed them into their lives. Often they have overlapped dogs - when one has passed away, they have adopted a second one so as to keep their now-solitary dog good company while they are at work.

Ivy was different. She came as one of a pair - with Scruff as her best friend.  It was a perfect match.  Scruff was slightly aloof though always gentle - a beautiful boy, and very protective of his friend Ivy.  (He has been a little sweet on me too at times, and acts as though a celebrity has arrived whenever I come to visit.)  Ivy had a powerful chest and strong smile - willing to bond and bother, always a little underfoot, but in an endearing way - especially at dinner time.  She had a joie de vivre that we all should have as we live these days that we call our lives.

Over the past year or so, Scruff had started to slow down a little - still interested in going for a walk, but not so much a long one.  Ivy continued with her unbridled enthusiasm.  I really had come to expect that my friends would lose Scruff in the next year or so - but I had no such thoughts about Ivy.  This is why it came as such a shock to us all, when she passed away.

Ivy had a song within her - a song that she could share at random, or upon request.  Sometimes she would start barking for what she wanted - which garnered no desired response - and then she would (as if on cue) switch the bark to a song-like baying - "rooing," as I've heard it call - and then the humans would laugh and be charmed, and then she (usually) would be given whatever item she desired.  She knew what worked, that's for sure.  And we knew that she shared without hesitation.

So good for Ivy - if she had to pass away - that she left us while doing exactly what she loved - taking a walk with Scruff and her human being, all on a lovely summer morning.

I will miss her.  And I will miss her song.