It’s never good news when the vet calls herself instead of letting the assistants call. Those girls — in their late teens and early 20s — are spared the trauma of having to tell someone part of his soul has been ripped out and will never be replaced. Knowing this, my eyes were already brimming over when I heard our vet, Dr. Keller, on the other end of the phone Tuesday afternoon, June 29, 2010. Before she said anything, I said, attempting to project calm and failing miserably, “It was to widespread, wasn’t it?” She replied, “Yes, sir, and it wasn’t in his intestines like we thought. It had gotten his pancreas and spleen.” I managed to get out, “Have you . . .?” before my voice and composure failed me and she said, “Yes sir, I just let him go. He went with his chin and belly being rubbed, just like you asked.”
Barely two years after losing my beloved Thomas O’Malley to the rainbow bridge, our Loki, our little grey ghost, was gone.
He was a little grey ball of fuzz when Budge brought him home April Fool’s Day eleven years ago. We didn’t name him right off, but watched to see what his personality would be. Thomas walked over and sniffed him, then promptly bopped him on the head and proceeded to pin him to the ground and groom him to our household’s standards. Pecking order thus established, he then allowed the newcomer to roam the house at will. When the grey ball of energy finished turning over what could be turned over and getting into what could be gotten into, I dubbed him Loki, after the Norse god of mischief.
For the next eleven years he was a constant companion to Budge and me. He would move from lap to lap, occupying whichever space Thomas had not claimed. If no laps were available, he’d find a beam of sunshine and fit himself into it for as long as he could. If someone was in bed, Loki was with him or her. He loved sleep. For the first several years, he would curl into an arc atop Budge’s head and sleep all night, but when Budge went to Hawaii for two weeks a few years back, he abandoned his usual spot and until his last night with us, he slept at our feet. He was an absolutely amazingly extraordinary cat and we loved him dearly. When Thomas died, Loki could tell how sad I was and he spent hours in my lap trying to comfort me. He is currently the only cat I’ve ever personally known who was delighted to have his belly rubbed.
Then he started getting skinny for no good reason.
Then we went to the vet and had x-rays.
The ugly dark area was plain as day.
Dr. Keller scheduled surgery.
Budge and I took him in at 7:30 that morning.
Dr. Keller called at 2:00.
He was gone.
I do not handle death well. I was alone in the house so I did what anyone who just felt his heart torn in two would do, I curled up in the fetal position on the floor and squalled like a baby with colic. In between waves of unbearable anguish, I managed to call Budge and tell her, call Mama and tell her, and text message two of Loki’s favorite people — our buddy, Laura, and our niece, Kayla. Then I gave myself over to grief.
Budge found me in the floor clutching the shirt I’d worn that morning when we took him in. It still had bits of his fur stuck to it. Gradually, eventually, I subsided into quiet sobbing and then I dried my eyes. We talked about the wonderful times we’d had as a family of two humans and fuzzy babies. We had no doubt we made the right choice. Doing nothing would have sentenced our beautiful sweet boy to wasting and pain in just a few more weeks. As it was, we can remember him bright eyed and precious. In a few days, I’ll pick up his ashes and place them, along with his picture, next to Thomas’ remains and, at least, I’ll know where he is at all times.
Part of me, the part that abhors agony and emotional outburst, sometimes wishes I didn’t have to deal with the loss of such a dear friend, but the other side of me knows Loki won’t be the last. If the world should stand long enough, Beau, Jack, Milo, and Ares will follow Thomas and Loki over the rainbow bridge. I know if I should make it to Heaven I will find them there and if any armchair theologian should question my belief, I’ll tell him the same thing a cat loving pastor told me once: “Of course our pets will be in Heaven . . . without them, it won’t BE Heaven.”
So, as bad as it hurts, I know in my heart that I couldn’t trade the pain of losing them for a life without having had them in it. Dr. Seuss, that precious and beloved writer for children said it best:
“Don’t weep and frown because it’s over; laugh and smile because it happened.”
Love you, my fuzzy angels.
Love y’all, too.
Keep those feet clean now. 🙂