Trying Out: Putting Mylar Down (Week Twenty-Five-b)
This was hardly something I wanted on my to-do list. It was certainly on my, “I do not feel like doing this” list. But darn it, she was ready to check out.
There were puddles of urine. There was perpetual lethargy. There was a cat so worn out by life , no matter how many fluids I gave her. Mylar did not move a lot in her last few weeks. The two photos here were taken on Tuesday. I called out sick, told them that something had come up, had a family emergency, and could not get there.
(Some higher-ups argue that a cat does not count as a death in the family. Some higher-ups have not lived with a cat that was loyal to them for over seventeen years. Some higher-ups do not need to know details and can, if they press further, bite me.)
Honestly, she could have called it quits before. It was almost two years to the day when she had her last episode and spent four days in an emergency vet. Mylar gave me two more years of friendship. Two more years to say good-bye. Two more years to relish in her companionship.
I spent thirty-six hours watching over her. I kept wondering if that was going to be the day that I let her check out. But she started to improve. She would eat and hop up on the couch with me. She lacked vim and vigor, yet she held up pretty well for an eighteen year old. (With something like one hundred and twenty-six in people years? She held up just fine.)
Wednesday she was eating some and I let her be. Thursday she declined to eat. I kept giving her fluids. She never fully rebounded from our mutual day off.
Friday, when I came home from work, I knew. She would flop into whatever position I put her in and lay there. Her default spot was the litter box. Granules stuck in her already-sunken eyes and around her nose. We had paid the vet a visit on Tuesday. It had been a wait-and-see visit. Well, I waited. And I saw. And we went back to the vet on Friday.
I told myself, and her, that she was not going to die alone. Mylar had been there for all the hard times in my life. The least I could do was stay with her for as long as I could.
The vet was kind enough to help us out between patients. They had a towel laid out on the counter. It was a practical reminder that death can be hard and messy, in more ways than one. I laid her down, and she slowly blinked. The vet came in and injected a sedative. He said it would take about three to five minutes, so I took her back and hugged her in my arms.
I sat down in the chair, letting her head rest against my chest. I hugged her as my hand lightly petted her head. At least a few times I told her the same thing I always did when she was stressed or sick or tired. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
I wish her eyes would have fully closed when the sedative kicked in. There would have been some permanence to it. A notion of, “I am checked out”, would have helped. Death is apparently not out to be convenient. So I simply take comfort in knowing that whatever consciousness she had at the end was spent with me. (No sidekick gets left behind. Ever.)
The vet returned, injected the final drug, and he felt her vein for her pulse. A minute or two later and she was gone.
I took her in my arms a last time. How can you not hug your best friend good-bye? Even then, I could feel how lightweight she had become. There was no resistance. As I set her down back on the counter, she felt more like a pelt than a pet. I felt like a trapper, laying a furry product out for inspection.
They offered to cremate her privately. I chose the public/ do-not-return option. I had my cat. I have photos of her. I have memories that take up half a lifetime. I do not need some fancy jar sitting around my apartment to remind me of that.
There were tears during the process. There were tears in the car. There were tears at home. Weeks later, I still do not feel that I cried enough. I guess that those two years we had at the end helped me. I knew it was coming. That softened the blow. The little bleed-valve on my heart let out a little bit of grief each day.
Weeks later, I still miss Mylar. I could not have loved her any more than I did. We did not do everything perfect, but we did it our way. I would not have traded any of it.