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Suck it up, Buttercup

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Goodbye, My Lai

I really really hate this. But I can’t deny it any longer.

We’ve been to the vet, we have hundreds of dollars of meds. We have a new litter box and a case of canned food, because dry is often too hard for her to eat anymore. We have a new liner under the box, to catch the ever-more-frequent “misses”.

None of that has dispelled the new, vague, and bewildered look in her eyes or the tooth-grinding evidence of her constant pain. The meds don’t do any good if she can’t keep them down. There aren’t any more options.

It’s been almost seventeen years that she has been my commensal, companion, pick a label, my cat, My Lai.

All the things you hear parents say at their kids’ graduation, “I remember when she was so tiny, I’m so proud, she’s become a friend” apply. Except this kid isn’t going off to college, or getting married. Her ability to give me grandchildren I removed long ago.

I settled for her ability to purr me through anything. Her famous irritability and penchant for swiping at me when she got tired of being petted. The way her growl would rise in intensity and pitch if I held her tight and rubbed her stomach, which she detested. The night Amanda and I were up all night talking and My Lai crawled into a pillowcase, burrowing under the pillow in it, in a blatant attempt to demonstrate exactly what we were preventing her from doing.

Ever since Tahoe, it’s been us against the world. Now it will be just me, and I’m not sure how well I’m going to be dealing with that.

On Friday, I’m taking the day off. I’m renting a car and taking My Lai to the beach. She won’t have to worry about the location of the litter box, she can lie carefree in the sunshine for the last time.

And then we’ll get back in the car and go to the vet. I’ll hold her as they gently slide in the needle, and I’ll feel first the purring, then the breathing, then her heart, stop.

The end of the tiny kitten I had to feed with an eyedropper. The end of half my life. The best end I can give her.

Right now she’s sitting quietly on my bed, staring into space waiting for the pain to go away. It’s going to go away, I’m going to make it go away. It’s my responsibility.

I just wish I could explain. I wish I could tell her I’m sorry she’s lived in nothing but my succession of craptastic apartments. I wish I could tell her how much she’s meant to me. Actually I can and do tell her that, I’m just not sure she understands.

So, on Friday, she will get sunshine and cuddles and scratches and love.

And then she will get relief.

4/14/2009





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