Friday, April 17, 2015

The Courage of a Lion

I feel like I have been living with a very quiet and low grade pain this week.

The first days "without Andre" were lackluster and I felt cloudy and overcast. Then Monday rudely walked in the door and intruded on my quiet, respectful mourning period. I hated Monday, but I knew I needed it just as much.

The loss of a pet is something not everyone understands. I must confess that as much as I empathized and wanted to understand how my friend felt when her 32 year old parrot died, I just didn't get it. I can relate to losing a cat or a dog but I've never loved a bird, so my heart didn't ache the same way as hers did. Andre was not doing well at the time and I could relate but I didn't truly understand.

Now I know. At least what it was like for me.

Other than "work", I did as little as humanly possible this week. I knew I had to do "hard things" but I didn't want to waste a good day of doing nothing, doing just a little bit, so all of those hard things landed on one day. That would be yesterday.

Our (previously) Junior Cat, presently our Only Cat needed to get his nails trimmed. His nails have needed a good trimming for quite some time now. I finally made that appointment and that appointment was last night.

I used that as a catalyst to gather up and donate Andre's unopened cans of cat food and drop off his medication so they could reuse or dispose of it properly. As I went through the process I washed up the cat dish we had upstairs, for Andre's healthy cat food pucks nuggets. I took the remainder of the cat food downstairs. I swept the kitchen floor and went in search of lost "hockey pucks" under the baseboard, kitchen furniture and the stove.

After Andre was gone, I left his dish filled with the much tastier and more popular cat food nuggets out of respect for Andre and not to make sudden changes for the sibling he left behind. But Junior continued to fish out the food (I assume) that was still of the health food variety and continued batting them around the kitchen, so I emptied the dish.

That empty dish was disturbing to me. It screamed "Andre is gone! Andre is gone!!" but I couldn't remove it.

I washed his dish and put it downstairs to use for another purpose on another day.

Slowly but surely our visual reminders of Andre's day-to-day life with us are disappearing.

Last night, we brought home the paw print the vet's office made for us on the day we said our good bye to Andre. The entire staff signed a card and it was attached to Andre's clay paw print. We didn't find that card until we were home from our night of errands, had finished our supper and I opened the package to find a place of honor for Andre's last memory.

"He was a courageous cat ..." was one of the many thoughtful and meaningful comments our veterinarian family wrote within the card.


Yes, I have to agree that was the sentence which packed a punch for me. I truly believe Andre breathed long and hard and those last heavy breaths were his final gift to us.

It was so very hard for him to breathe at the end. He gazed quietly into our eyes and he simply breathed.

It took every ounce of strength he had to live out those quiet last days. A lesser cat may have given up sooner or let it be known how much he was suffering. Not our Andre. He channeled his youthful exuberance for life into those final days, weeks and months.

He had the courage of a lion.

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