Sometimes life sucker-punches you in the gut, and the sass gives way to sadness. Last night, I had to say goodbye to one of my beloved feline companions. He was in the end stages of kidney failure, and I had to make the decision I knew was coming but didn't think would be so soon. I found out about a month ago that his kidneys were failing so I had time to prepare myself. But you're never really prepared when the end comes. It's still gut-renching and irreversible.
When my cat was diagnosed, he wasn't suffering, comfortably unaware of his impending fate. That started to change in the last week. There was a moment, a few days before our parting, when I knew. I knew it was coming sooner than I expected. Watching his frail, delicate movements, I knew the end was near.
Having a living creature's fate in your hands is a hefty responsibility. Grappling with feelings of guilt and doubt, but knowing on some level that my pet was asking me to help him. His meows had turned into what sounded like anguished cries; he was a shadow of his former self, his breathing labored, his body weak. And as I looked into his sweet eyes one last time, it's as if he knew what was coming and didn't fight it one bit. I held him in my arms as the veterinarian administered the drugs, assuring me it was painless and quick. And then he was gone.
I was strangely calm in the moment I lost my cat - it was before, and now after, that I feel as though the tears will not stop. His sister is still with me, in very good health, but the house seems eerily quiet, like something's missing. When I look at her, I can't help but feel that I'm looking at only half of a whole.
I think a part of the sadness comes from the stark reminder of our own mortality, a fate none of us can escape. Having witnessed my cat's death, I also realized that we are not our bodies. They are a vessel, we are Spirit. My beloved feline was a sweet, innocent, loving, playful spirit embodied in a soft, furry and cuddly body. I know his spirit lives on, and I hope he'll remain close to me until our paths cross again someday.