Sunday, June 10, 2007
Good-bye, old friend
Yesterday I found out that our family cat of 19 and a half years had died. Apparently she died in her sleep, as they found her stretched out and looking like she was relaxing, in one of her usual sleeping places.
To be honest, I was relieved for her, as she had been uncomfortable for years, suffering from arthritis. She lived a wonderful life, spending her entire day walking around my parent's farm, finding warm places to sleep in the sun, and yelling at the dogs if they did not move so she could lie down in the best spots.
She was deaf, so she yelled VERY loudly. When she yelled, she would brace herself so the force would not knock her backwards, open her mouth and let rip with the loudest yowl you have ever heard. Thankfully she lived on a farm, but the neighbours a little way down the road could STILL hear her early in the morning.
The day before she died, my father had fed her a small filleted fresh fish, which she devoured, so things weren't out of the ordinary. She wasn't suffering from any infections, but it sounds like she was in heart failure and probably just died quickly in her sleep.
My younger brother cried for a couple of hours after he found out. I did not shed a tear, even though I was sad. I felt bad that I did not have more of a reaction, and it made me wonder why I felt this guilt.
I know why I didn't react more - I have been working around the sick and elderly and seen enough people die to know that death is a consequence of life, and is not always to be dreaded. This cat was VERY old. She hung on to life with all four paws for as long as possible, but 19 years is a long time to avoid death. She lived a fantastic life. I don't think there is anything to be sad about, apart from the fact that we will miss her.
So why did I feel guilty? Probably because I was concerned that by not reacting more, it seemed like she meant less to me than she did. I was also concerned that my parents would think I was being cold or heartless. I grew up with this cat. She was one of my best friends growing up (as much as a cat can be) and used to sleep in my room every night. I used to protect her from my brother when he would play rough. She meant a lot to me.
But it has been years since we expected her to go. I guess I knew it was her time to move on, and can accept that. It wasn't a sudden and violent death. She did not need to be put to sleep forcefully in the vet's office (as was our old family dog), with the vet telling my father that, "We need another injection. He just doesn't want to leave you." Hers was not a traumatic death, but a peaceful one at home.
Goody-bye, old friend. I'll see you again someday soon.