Ahhh, those first heady moments when you meet your kitten...regardless of where you got it. Humane society, for free from the back of a truck, purchased from a breeder, from far overseas...it doesn't matter how it got to you. There is simply nothing better than that first meeting. You start looking them over...studying them so closely...trying to memorize every detail. You shove your nose into their fur to soak up their scent. You look into their eyes to see what they're all about. You check out their limbs to make sure all is well. Check in their ears. Check out their bellies. Soon, they start to learn your home, learn about you; your animals. Before long, you don't remember what it was like before they came. Haven't we had her forever??
Eventually they settle into a routine. Do they lay under the covers with you when you first go to bed? Do they sit on your lap during morning coffee? Do they seem to stop by at almost the same time every day for a cuddle session? How do they know? Do they somehow show up when you are having a bad day? How do they know? You learn where they love to be petted, and where they don't! You learn what their favorite treats are. You learn what their favorite toys are. Soon you can discern the sound of their footsteps; even in a house full of noise or other animals.
As with every blessing we are given, we begin to take it all for granted. The scents. The friendship. The sound of their paws padding down the hallway. We buy the same food and treats for so long that when someone asks us what they like, we have to stop and think about it. Not much they do surprises us anymore. Which is fine by us. You learn how to bathe them and groom them and trim their nails. They become your family as much as anyone else can be.
Then, that day comes. That day when they are called. Sometimes you hear the bells beforehand; sometimes you don't. Suddenly all the nooks and crannies their soul and spirit have filled, are in danger of being empty. You panic. Make deals with God. Google everything you can. Quiz the vet. Ask if there's anything else you can try. Pray. Think. Every single motion, inside and out, that you can think of.
But the time comes, when they give you that look. The look. When they know. And you know they know....but you don't want to know.
On 8/23/21, our dear sweet Amibial's Xena; our Sawyer; our little Soybean....gave us that look. I was laying by her, she reached out and placed her paw on my arm, and gave me the look. I quickly looked away...hoping I hadn't seen what I thought I had. I tried to busy myself. Anything but dealing with what she was trying to tell me. But then, you realize this is your friend trying to ask you for help. And you do what you can to reach back. I reached out to pet her belly, before calling the vet. Her entire body was full of way-too-enlarged lymph nodes. The cold chills enveloped my heart.
Our Sawyer went to the ER vet on the evening of 8/23; I dropped her off thinking she was 'just' very sick. Something treatable. Something serious, but not impossible. I talked to her on the ride over. Told her I would be back to get her shortly. She wasn't feeling well. She was quiet and still. Not animated like the girl I knew. The first vet on call checked her over and ran some tests. Called and told me she wasn't sure exactly what was wrong....but was hoping to find some answers. Told me I should go home and they would keep her there and try to figure it out.
At 3 am, they called to say they weren't sure yet, but so far they had ruled out some things. They had ruled out autoimmune. They had ruled out anything infectious. I knew what that meant. Tuesday morning at 10, the second vet called to say that the ultrasound showed the liver and spleen dark and mottled-full of blood. She said only one thing caused that; lymphoma. She then said she checked the lymph node aspirates from the night before, which just confirmed lymphoma. She had internal bleeding. Her RBC had gone from 4,000 +/- on 8/11 (we had blood drawn at our vet which showed anemia...which wasn't a very shocking find at the moment....); to 3,000 +/- on 8/23; to 1500 on 8/24. She said her abdominal nodes were just so far out of range-so large.
I asked if it was time. She said it's time. She said the kind thing to do was to let her go. If it were her cat, she would let her go. The numbness and sorrow and pain that hits all at once is so paralyzing. You keep thinking, maybe I heard that wrong...maybe they got the wrong cat...maybe there's some error they'll find on the way over.
They set me in a nice little room. Filled with the heavy drape of sorrow from so many before us. They brought in my girl. I went to pick her up. She was just limp. I had to position her on me as though she had just had general anesthesia. I don't think she even knew I was there. I wrapped her in our blanket from home. Put her favorite toys with her. I started telling her about how it was when she arrived to our house; how her long trip was so scary for us....and more so for her. About how she got to meet all of us. I told her how much we were going to miss her; how much of a light she was to us. She tucked her head into my arm, and tried to curl up into a ball. I think she knew me in that moment. I told her about her babies, how they had all found such loving homes and were all so healthy and happy.
I told her how she would meet our Wally; our lab who had gone far too soon a few years back; and how she would be welcomed with open arms by my Uncle Al. I told her he would have a red flannel shirt on, and he would scoop her up right away; and that she should trust him. I told her we'd never forget her. That she was meant to be in our lives. That even though her life was short, it was valuable and meaningful and she touched all of us.
The injection went so fast. It always does. What is such a huge event goes so quickly. It was almost immediate when she was gone. Her body didn't have any fight left in it. I wanted to hold her forever. I still do.
We will honor and cherish and miss our dear, sweet girl forever. She was truly a light in our lives. An amazing mother. A wonderful 'sibling' to her fur brothers and sisters. A lover of tinsel balls; sunbaths; birdwatching; and watching bugs in the living room window at night. We have gone through this process with our pets before, but never so young or so fast. Half of our hearts are with her.
Run light, sweet Sawyer. Look for Uncle Al. Find all the birds and butterflies. May happiness and delight fill the rest of your days. Our dear, sweet Soybean.