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I had to say goodbye to my kitty Michael on June 3rd.
This is the hard part of having pets, because when you love critters that much…and when they love you as much back with their little unconditional hearts…you know. You know. It’s gonna hurt so much someday. You push that aside and cling to the joy and the annoyances and the fur and the love.
But you know it’s coming.
Jon and Michael came to me as a bonded pair of kitties. Jon was a cream European Burmese and Michael was a standard sable Burmese. I adopted them when they were 4.5 years old when their owner passed away. They said hello and made themselves at home upon entering my house.
These cats were made of love. Purrs and laps and headbumps and love and play and sleeping on me and talking to me. If I sat, they were both on me. I took to stretching out on the couch when I worked on my novels, ‘cause that way, they could both sit on without my knees giving out from too much cat on my lap.
And yeah, losing them broke my heart.
Jon went first. I lost him to complications with diabetes while I was at GRL in 2013. If I seemed off back then, that’s why. I had to make the call remotely to put him to sleep and I never had a chance to say goodbye. He went from fine in August to not at all fine in October, despite everything we did.
I took a chance going to GRL. The day I decided not to cancel and started packing, Jon perked up and played with me and got into the suitcase and was purry and more like his old self. So I went because I thought he was getting better.
I think he was saying goodbye, only I didn’t know. I thought it was “See you later.” He was that kind of cat.
I came home to only Michael. I cried and cried because I wanted one last chance to say goodbye to Jon and kiss his head and tell him I loved him. And I couldn’t.
Michael was beside himself without his buddy. We clung to each other.
In January of 2014, my vet called and said, “I think we have a cat for you.” So I went and saw Smokey.
He was so shy, painfully so, almost frozen in fear. I thought if nothing else, I could give him a safe place to be. So I took him home. And he hid under the guest bed for a week. I sat in the room on the floor and writing. And…he came out. And let me pet him. And he purred. He said hello.
He watched Michael talk to me and sit on me and ask for pets and play…and he figured it out. Now, I have an outgoing, fun-loving cat in Smokey. He talks and leaps and asks for pets and is just so happy. He’s in my heart so deep.
Recently, Michael wasn’t doing so well. He stopped coming upstairs to sleep at night. He started dropping weight. This past weekend, he started having issues breathing, so I took him to the emergency vet. As best as they can tell, he had a nasty case of pneumonia. There might have been lung cancer, but they would have had to do additional x-rays to confirm…and there wasn’t time.
After 2.5 days in an oxygen cage and lots of drugs to try to help, his breathing was worse and worse. It was so obvious when I saw him that all he wanted to do was rest and let go. He couldn’t survive outside the oxygen cage. He struggled to get enough air.
So I made the choice to say goodbye. This time I got to be there. I got to kiss his little head and tell him I love him and that I was sorry I couldn’t fix him. I held him until he was gone.
And you know, that’s not the part that hurts. I feel a great deal of peace about the decision. It was the right one. I could see that, clear as day.
What hurts is that he’s not here. That I’ll never have him on my lap again. Never hear his trilling purr. Never get another headbump. All the same things that still ache, distantly, about Jon.
But that’s all about me, their absence in my future. What mattered was him. He’s at peace and not hurting. If there’s a kitty afterlife of some kind, I’d like to think that Jon and Michael are curled up together, as they were for so many years.
So now it’s just me and Smokey, the shy cat who I figured I’d take in and give safe place to. Turns out he’s given me his heart in exchange for the chance I took. And gave his purrs, his love, his meows, and leaps and little mews.
Life continues. Love continues. In time, I’ll say hello to a new fuzzy head, because both Smokey and me need a new buddy cat, I think. And I’ll lose a bit of my heart and gain a bit of their hearts back.
I wouldn’t change the price of the love of a pet for all the world.
About Anna Zabo
Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think. You can find her online at http://www.annazabo.com/ or more often on Twitter as @amergina.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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