Monday, October 20, 2008

My Beautiful

Sometimes you just know.  

Between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning this past weekend, I had heard from my entire family (at different points) by e-mail that my childhood cat wasn't doing very well.  I've gotten those phone calls and e-mails before, but this time I just knew.  She was 16 years old and I knew it was time.  After receiving the e-mail from my dad (the last one I got - Saturday morning) I prepared for the worse.  I started to cry because I knew what was coming next.  Part of me was glad that I didn't have to make the final decision, but most of me just wanted to hold Tigger one more time.

I was seven years old when Tiggie came into my life.  We had adopted her and her sister and my sister and I were really excited that we each got to name one.  Bethany named Cuddles, a dark calico, and I named Tigger, a lighter calico, after Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.  I liked the energy that Tigger (from Winnie the Pooh) had and it became immediately apparent that this kitten had the same energy as her namesake.  She loved to play fetch with little pipecleaners, demanded excited attention in the morning as soon as you walked downstairs and slept with me until the year I left for college.  Somewhere along the way, I started calling her "my beautiful."

About an hour after I got the e-mail from my dad, my phone rang.  It was the church.  I knew that wasn't a good sign.  My sister, mom and dad were all at the church for the annual Harvest Fair and are usually too busy early on in the day to call.  When I answer my sister was on the other end in tears.  The vet had just called and told them Tigger was sicker than they thought.  She was in kidney failure, liver failure and was bleeding into her stomach.  They could have treated her but it would have been painful.  She was scheduled for an ultrasound on Tuesday but Dr. Krier wasn't even sure she would make it to that.  She told Bethany they were going to have to make decisions and hung up.

I immediately started to cry, but told Bethany that they needed to put her to sleep.  I ached as I said it, but it's not fair to keep her alive in that kind of pain because we long for their companionship.  I told her to keep my updated, hung up and stared at my pile of Christian Thought notes.  My mom called me an hour later and told me Dale was coming at 2 p.m. that day.  She was crying and I started again.  When I hung up the phone with her I crawled in to bed and tried to coax Lilly to comfort me.  I couldn't call Bruce because he was camping and out of cell range.  I tried to keep myself busy, but couldn't get rid of the pit in my stomach.  My dad called around 3 p.m. to tell me that it was over.  He sounded on and over the verge of tears.  That set me off again.  They buried her in their yard and were all trying to take a breath before going back to the church.  After I hung up I felt numb.  I know it was the right thing to do but I didn't get to say goodbye.  When I close my eyes I can feel her soft skin and picture her running towards me with a little white pipecleaner sticking out of her mouth.  I know I haven't lived at home in six years, but I miss her.  I miss my beautiful.

It's strange how animals become part of your family.  They're more than just good companions, they're actually family.  I've been trying to pull myself together but it hasn't been easy.  During church yesterday I broke down and cried, feeling vulnerable, yet comforted by the beauty of the sanctuary.

Now I find myself just going through the motions.  Today was easier than yesterday, and I hope tomorrow is easier than today.  And while I continue to pray for her comfortable release I also pray that more people find comfort, companionship and love the way I did with my beautiful.  It's truly special.

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