Goodbye to an old friend.
This past weekend we had to put down Cindy, our cat of 15+ years. She was the first (and only) pet our family ever had.
I know that only children are supposed to cry when the family pet dies, but I've loved that cat since I was 12 years old. She was with us through 4 moves, high school, college, medical school. When I came home, she was part of what "home" meant...a furry, orange, often-grumpy constant.
She was an outdoor cat through and through. She was a bit of a menace to the birds in her younger years, and more recently she would follow my parents around the neighborhood for their evening walks. When they stopped in at neighbors' for a chat, she'd wait outside for them, then rejoin them on the walk when they emerged. She was grumpy, but she knew who her peoples were.
I remember about 6 years ago, when I was living in NYC after undergrad, sitting in a knitting shop on 14th st when I got a phone call from my mother. (Unexpected, since we've never been big for phone conversations.) Her news was that Cindy was sick, and they didn't know why...she was unable to eat or drink anything without vomiting for a few days, and they'd taken her to multiple vets without any answers. They were thinking about exploratory surgery, or endoscopy, or putting her down (always on the list of options with non-humans, of course). I burst into tears (incidentally, my first and only public cry in NY) and said I'd write the $1200 check for the endoscopy. It turned out she had just eaten a piece of grass that somehow lodged itself in her nasopharynx, causing irritation that was preventing her from eating. It was such a relief that it was nothing serious. My parents, with perverse humor, saved the offending (expensive) piece of grass for me to see when I came home next.
Damn expensive cat.
This time, though, was different. She lost her vision, stopped being really mobile. The vet said there wasn't much to be done. It was so quick, her decline...just a few weeks.
It was so strange, and surreal, to see her lying in the little white cardboard coffin. I know people say that the dead look like they are sleeping, but I haven't found that to be true in much of my experience (as a pathology resident, I've had a lot). But for her, whether it was the way she was lying, or my own emotional attachment, she for all the world looked curled up for a nap.
And as sentimental and irrational and..stupid...as the thought is, it just kills me, the idea that our sweet, warm, furry, purring, sleeping cat is in the cold ground, never to be warm again. I'm having trouble with my goodbye.