Dealing With Untimely Death

I honestly had planned to write something very different for today’s blog. Unfortunately, my mind is elsewhere, to be precise it is on my youngest kitty, Kaylee. And just like the issues with Gizmo last week – this week does not bode well. In fact, it is shaking me right to my very core.

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Gizmo hiding…sort of

See, last week – I had to have Gizmo put to sleep. She had a cancerous growth that was extremely quick and invasive on her tongue. It grew in size quickly, and cut off her ability to eat and was affecting her ability to breathe. It was an inoperable form. So rather than watching her in pain, and knowing things were not going to get better, I opted to help her cross the veil. I could have been selfish and kept her alive a little longer – hoping against hope that a surgery that would have happened today would have helped her. But she was in pain, and last Thursday morning – she had essentially checked out.

In the meantime, Kaylee had been having trouble walking on her front left leg since late May. She is the most active of the three cats – always moving, and jumping, and checking into everything. The vet and I both chalked it up to landing wrong. Rest, and some painkillers went home. Xrays showed nothing wrong with the leg. So, I babied her and watched. And waited for her to start using her leg. She didn’t. I kept checking it, pulling on it, massaging the toes, thinking that she was feeling some kind of feeling because she had refused to use it. Eventually, I could feel her upper leg getting bigger and stiffer. Like her muscle had clenched up and wouldn’t let go. This was also the time frame when Gizmo was starting her rapid decline, so my entire focus wasn’t really on Kaylee’s leg. Until the day that Gizmo passed.

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Kaylee curled up in my office chair

On my out of the vet, an appointment was made for today for Kaylee to be seen. X-rays were taken. The tight muscle was actually new bone growth. or rather, bone growth brought about by the bone cancer on her upper leg. The prognosis wasn’t favorable. Provided that cancer had not spread from her leg into her chest, Kayle would lose the leg and the left part of her collarbone. A deeper x-ray was needed, and Kaylee was moved off to the Equine center next door for more in-depth scans. She has a mass in her chest that might just be a fatty deposit. But it could be the spreading of her cancer. Materials for a biopsy, along with the x-rays have been sent to a specialist. I should know early next week what happens from here.

Kaylee is currently on the daybed which is next to the window that looks out over the pool. This was a favorite spot of Gizmo’s, but occasionally I would catch Kaylee laying there. She has been watching out the window. A few times, I have gone over and sat with her, petting her, letting her clean my hand, my forearm, and the tip of my nose. She has always thought of me as her kitten, I suppose. Cleaning me constantly to make sure I was the cleanest kitten on the block. Some of the symptoms of bone cancer include lethargy, which she has. She does not move often from whatever spot she winds up in.

All I can do is watch. And hold her. And pet her. And kiss her. And talk softly with her. All of that, while knowing these might be the last few days we have together. Knowing that if the end is not here, long and difficult days will be ahead for the rest of her life. And if I am given that gift, her being around with a leg missing – I will count myself damn lucky. And that I will have stolen those days from the Reaper.

Otherwise, I know that this cat – a cat that was adopted from the Hickory Creek Animal shelter…. This cat, who was left in a foreclosed home with her mother and six other newborn kittens… This cat who was the last to be adopted from that entire group… This cat, who three months later would lick the tears from my face after I was verbally assaulted by the President of the company I worked for (a company I would quit four and a half hours later – in the middle of a digital phone upgrade over that abuse)… This cat, who spent every single day with me during my two years of unemployment, playfully reminding me that joy in life isn’t measured in by the dollars you make… Yes, this cat, who has meant the world to me since she came into my life and became my “puppy”…this cat has been and continues to be the shining star in my life, and I will forever be grateful for that.

No one should ever have to go through the untimely death of their children – furr-kiddo, human or otherwise. I have already done that with Gizmo, just six days ago. I can hope that I am not about to go through that again with the cat that is as close to being a familiar for me can be. But I do have to steel my heart over that possibility. Again.

How can you deal with the impending passing of a loved one? I am not sure I have that answer…for anyone, including myself. I do what I normally would. I cry when I am completely alone, and be happy and loving in her presence. I go out to the stone circle and ask the Spirits of Ancestors to watch over her on her passing, just as I did for Gizmo. I remember what I believe. And why. And that it applies to not just human beings and animals but everything around me. And yes, I feel angry. Angry that Gizmo has been taken from me. Angry that Kaylee is currently in pain. And I ask “Why them?” And I know full well I will likely not receive an answer. But I take comfort in that they had full and wonderful lives filled with love while they were with me. And while that will never fill the hole that Gizmo has left, nor the potential crater that will be opened if Kaylee leaves…it will have to be enough. Because it is what I have.

Thinking About….

So, as many of you saw earlier, my middle cat (I had three) crossed the veil this week (just a few days from this writing). Gizmo has been foremost in my thoughts for the last month. After a trip to the vet to find out what was going on with eating issues, it was noted that Gizmo had a melanoma tumor on the back of her tongue that had worked its way down her throat. It was an aggressive growth, as her health and well-being declined rapidly. I had steeled myself the best I could, knowing that these were going to be her last days in this incarnation. I gave her all the juices from the cat food, so she didn’t have to chew as much. In the end, I pureed her food into liquid form so she could get more sustenance. I sat with her in the middle of the night, petting her and talking softly to her during bad gasping episodes as the tumor started to narrow her ability to get air.

The hope was to get her to Tuesday morning when she would see a specialist down in Dallas to try and shrink the tumor with laser and radiation treatment. Thursday morning, she was in a seriously bad way. She had taken to hiding under the bed or behind the couch – her way of dealing with pain was to hide from everyone.¬†At the vet’s office, I kept whispering to her that it was time to let go. As much as I hated to let her slip beyond the veil, a selfish thought admittedly, I know she is not in pain today and that is what was most important to me.¬†Tonight, I will set a bowl of milk out at the stone circle, and say my final goodbyes. The bowl of milk is nourishment for her travels beyond the veil.

Everyone has their own ideas of what happens beyond. For most folks, there is the beloved tale of the Rainbow Bridge, where pets play and wait on the other side for their humans to cross – ready to provide the warmth and love they have done in this incarnation. My perspective; however, is a little different. I am a firm believer in the concept of reincarnation. Beyond the veil, is what is affectionately referred to as “the Summerlands” – a place where one can rest a short bit before coming back in another form. Don’t ask me what the purpose of continually being reborn is because I really do not know. I can speculate wildly for you, but its only speculation.

I believe that every creature has a part in all of that process. Even my little Gizmo. I love the story of the Rainbow Bridge and am deeply touched by the idea that Gizmo will be waiting for my own crossing at that bridge. But Gizmo has her own journeys to undertake. Our Paths will cross again at some point in eternal time and I look forward to when that happens. Until then, my life is far richer from having her in it just as hers was enriched by my presence as her human.

I know some folks will provide their own perspective of the afterlife based on whatever deeply held principles that they will have from their own experiences and connections that they have with the wider world around them (or not have as the case might be). The truth of the matter is this, none of us knows what comes after. You have to experience that in its totality to understand that mystery. And once it happens, there is no coming back to report the experience for others. To understand it, to experience it, one has to pass that point of never returning to this incarnation.

Is there a Heaven or a Hell? Maybe. A Limbo? A Purgatory? A Summerlands? Possibly. Or something we just do not understand or comprehend? A complete nothingness? I can understand that potentially being there as well. And while I sincerely miss Gizmo and wish she didn’t have to cross and experience all of that – I am not ready to cross over myself. I have lots of other mysteries and experiences to still have. Plus, I truly do believe our Paths will cross again, perhaps even in this lifetime that I am currently in. But I cherish the time she and I have had. The experiences we have developed together. Our little rituals for meal-time. Finding her curled up and firmly against my head at 4am in the bed. Her coming out and greeting me every time I came home. I will miss those little, nearly daily moments.

Good night little girl. I have enjoyed being your human. We will meet again. And that never-ending bond will continue to exist. Whatever form it happens to take.