I wish the final decision had not been made under the weight of a last straw. This had been going on for 12 months too long- through treatment for thyroid disorder and The Mr.’s denial that the cat’s kidneys were failing. I really hoped that he would come to this acceptance without a forceful nudge.
I had just spent an hour trying to clean out the narrow broom closet which runs the length of the kitchen wall, where the cat had just pooped and peed on a pile of cast away grocery bags. The ammonia of cat urine and the foul stink of feline defecation filled our entire first floor. I had been trying to squeeze my body into the 7 inch wide space, snagging my new sweater on a nail, feeling around in the dark with a garden rake for cat poop and subsequently dropping it on my favorite shoes. This couldn't keep happening. I could not keep cleaning up and throwing things out. I couldn't fit into tight spaces. I couldn't keep getting upset with her when it was really not her fault. It was time.
I wish The Mr. had not been forced to come to terms in a moment of my frustration expressed via an angry text messaged riddled with f bombs and a stern- You need to face reality- she is 17.5 years old and not doing well. She isn’t going to get better- you need to do what is best for her. No more waiting for it to happen on its own.
She had been seeking refuge in the farthest corners of our house- from a life she had always known but was suddenly, uncharacteristically terrified of. Our noble Siamese cat, our independent, self- assured queen of the house now peed on beds. She started to whither away. Her robust round body was now just a bag of bones and disheveled fur.
He replied: I know. It’s time. I will make the call.
And then another reply minutes later.
8:20 AM Saturday. But I have to ask you this one favor. You need to bring her in. I won’t be able to do it.
I could do that for him. He was the love of her life and she, against all odds- his allergies, his aversion to animals- carved a spot for herself in his heart. He wouldn’t be able to let her go.
I had been prepared for a long time. But on Friday night as I was lying in bed, listening to the muffled wails of my 10 year old daughter who held onto Mooshie tightly through out her last night with us, I saw Mooshie’s life, our life flash before my eyes.
17 ½ years.
She was with us before we knew for sure there was an us. She bore witness to my transformation from a student immersed in Art History to a mother immersed in love for her child. She warmed the stretched marble of my belly as it swelled with each pregnancy. She received each infant crossing the threshold with her typical Siamese vociferousness and lent the warmth of her body to the beds where they laid their heads. She tolerated toddlers-the tail pulling and the overly exuberant need to love on the cat.
Each milestone, each small glimmer of joy. Each disappointment and heart ache. The plans. Staggering through our marriage, parenting and simply being human. Each breath, each sigh, each sickness and recovery. The shedding of our cells, of ourselves. A few changes of scenery. Every job we have ever had. Each scratch of the pencil to paper. Our digital dawn. Our longing and yearning. Our lost and found. She was woven so tightly into the tapestry of each memory.
Suddenly, I did not feel ready for the end of the Age of Mooshie.
That morning, Henry held her in the blanket that she had claimed months ago. I will be forever grateful that this boy who is stingy with his words, spent four on me. I’ll go with you. After all of our options had been weighed, we decided we could not stay with her. Having gone through this before, my hands still ached from the absence of heartbeats under fur and ribs. I am grateful for the compassionate veterinary technician who acknowledged our arrival with care and tenderness- who had seen the tears start to well and fall before I even knew they were there. She embraced our old girl and let us go without either one of us having to exhale a single word.
Letting go sucks.
I thought I would be relieved when she was gone. No more stepping in puke on the way to the bathroom in the morning. No more stripping sheets she had peed on. No more trying to hush sonorous meowing at 5:30 in the morning as I tried to sneak into the shower before the kids woke up. But, the quiet does not bring relief. Just longing. It’s funny that the thing that annoyed me the most about her is the thing I miss the most.
Even in the midst of the grayest
Buffalo winter, she always found the places where thin ribbons of sunlight broke through- a warm glow tracing her body. I have to close my eyes and try remember where to find those places. She'll be there-her essence radiating with sunlight.