Today I learned you can’t out run grief.
I write this as my dear sweet friend, Mr. Kennedy T Cat, is lying beside me. He is 18 years old and his time with me has come to an end.
His health hasn’t been the best for some time. He’s always had a problem with is back left leg that caused him to hop like a rabbit instead of run like a normal cat. Arthritis made it worse. He has spent the last year or so in the comfort of my office, greeting me in the morning by meowing for his ice water. Funny, I don’t even remember when or why I started putting ice in his dish every morning.
After our usual morning conversation he would spend the rest of the day sleeping, getting up on occasion to eat or take care of other critical business. He was no longer the cat jumping in the window to growl at the roaming neighborhood cats or whom I had to shoo away when I was trying to cook. But he was still my faithful companion, sitting next to my as I worked on programs and blog posts.
It became apparent last night that the end was near when he could no longer get up to get his food. His back legs simply wouldn’t work. He didn’t cry. He just gave up. I spent the evening stroking his head and telling him how grateful I was for his love all these years.
My life is certainly much different than it was when Kennedy entered it. I was a depressed and unhealthy mess. He was a barn cat, taken from his mother too young and thus somewhat lacking in basic cat skills. We both suffered during a dark and unhealthy relationship, before Brian came into our lives. We both bristled at affection, craving it but only on our terms. We both learned to trust and live a little easier, a little happier. As I got stronger, got more confident, he was moving toward old age. I slept less, he slept more. Now my best years are just beginning as I watch his ending.
I prayed last night when I went to bed that he might go in his sleep, calm and peacefully. I awoke early, quietly entering the office. At first, I thought he was gone but when I stroked his head he looked up and mewed softly. I tried to give him ice water but he ignored it. So I started to work, watching him out of the corner of my eye. After an hour, with the sun coming up, I wondered if a run would do me good. I decided it couldn’t hurt, so I gave him a kiss on the head and promised to back in two miles.
I tried to focus on my breathing but knowing what was to come, the tears started to flow instead. Despite his advanced age I wasn’t ready to say good bye. I kept thinking of him in his younger more spry days. I would try to steady myself, checking my pace and making my feet move. I didn’t go far, promising myself only two miles in case he needed me. The tears would stop only to be triggered by again another memory, another vision of his sweet face.
It was probably my fastest 2 miles outside of a race. All I wanted to do was get back and be by his side. Nothing was going to stop the sadness in me from flowing out, not even the usual peace I find in exercise. Exercise is the answer for many things but it would not stop my heart from breaking today.
I got home to find Brian beside him, Kennedy still hanging on. We wanted him to finish out his life at home. He hated the vet more than anything. I didn’t want his last moments to be filled with fear. I just wanted him to feel the love that at times I may have been too busy over the last few years to show him adequately. So I write and wait.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. He started to cry a bit and, fearful he was in pain, we took him to the vet. It was there, after many tears, we made the decision to let him go. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I appreciate everyone’s kindness as Brian and I mourn the loss of our little buddy. I appreciate you reading this, letting this blog be a part of the grieving process. I am thankful for my clients and the needed distraction they have brought me in the days since. I have become even more aware of how truly lucky I am to have so much love and support in my time of need. This fit family I belong to is truly amazing.