Saying Goodbye

May 9, 2013 by

Saying Goodbye

Later today, I have to lose my cat. She’s been so sick recently, and the time has come to let her go.

Looking back, some might argue that we chose unwisely, although really, who can say why we choose the animals we choose. We picked Tabitha at the rescue animal fair because something about her called to us. A gorgeous, regal gray and white tabby, she was shy, and perhaps something beyond shy, as we found out when we got her home. It took her two weeks before she would come out from under the desk in our basement if we were present. If we wanted to find her, back in those days in Ohio, we had to look in the dark places, behind desks and under beds, for those were the only places she felt truly safe. When we moved from Ohio to Washington, my husband felt we might not be able to find her, much less catch her, to bundle her into the cat carrier for the move.

Tabitha SnugglingAs time passed, though, Tabitha became slightly more trustful of these humans in her midst. While she never became a lap cat, she would sit beside me on the couch as we watched TV, and meow for cat treats in the morning. She felt most comfortable, I think, when we were prone; that is when she would flop on the floor beside my daughter to groom her hair, or when I was lying in bed at night, she’d jump up beside me and head butt me in her most overt show of affection. She had a particular interest in the shower, and would wind around my bare legs in the morning as she inspected the open door to the shower stall. At any sign of stress, however, she’d revert back to her caves and hidey-holes. In this last year, I finally was able to start picking her up, holding her against my chest and feel her powerful purr for half a minute, before she’d twist out of my arms and jump away.

Tabitha and ShoeAnd then she stopped eating. Nothing was discernibly wrong, but food didn’t interest her anymore. The vet and I had conversations about increasing her interest in food, moving the bowl, increasing the variety of what she was eating. Nothing has worked. And now her medical status does show something wrong, because she is wasting away before our eyes.

The children want to say goodbye, so we will go to the vet this afternoon and let them pet her and love her one last time. This is the closest experience of death they’ve had in their young lives, and though I have warned them that this will be one of the saddest things they’ve ever done, they are undeterred. And I am grateful for that, for Tabitha has been family, and I want her to know that as she leaves this world, she leaves it in love.  My mom reminded me of the poem “Rainbow Bridge” (author unknown), which I will have my children read today:

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Goodbye, Tabitha. Go in love. Chillin'

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