It’s been a few days since I’ve written. I’ve been dealing with much emotional turmoil and angst. You see, my companion of 16 years is slowly dying.
Her name is Brenna. She’s a beautiful black tabby cat. She filled the hole in my heart when I had to say goodbye to my childhood pet, Buster (also a cat, an orange tabby).
Pets hold special places in our hearts. They offer a kind of love and companionship that no human can offer. Their love comes without manipulation or strings.
One might say it isn’t love – it is simply dependence. But that doesn’t explain how Brenna always knew to quietly sit beside me when I was upset – not touching me or asking to be touched. Simply sitting or laying beside me with a quiet purr.
Let me tell you a story about her. Brenna’s not one for strangers. Especially men. So she didn’t want to meet my boyfriend (now husband) right away. She waited until the house was quiet.
I lived in a chaotic house. Everyone was always coming and going and being as loud as they could be about it. It took a while for the house to settle enough for my (then) boyfriend and I to be able to claim the living room to watch a movie.
And then slowly, cautiously she came down the stairs. With a chirp and a purr she came right up to him and asked for head scratches!
She has loved him ever since. I knew when she walked up to him so easily that I had a keeper. I even whispered to him as she walked up, “You have no idea what a big deal this is!”
Because Brenna didn’t come out for just anyone. Like me, she hid from most of the world. Her favorite place was the box springs under my mattress. When I moved in with my husband, she began to open up. (But we still had to put a sheet over the underside of the box springs to keep her from tearing into it.)
I have spent most of her years battling my addictions and mental health disorders. Now that I see her time is nearly spent, I regret the time I wasted being drunk and disorderly. I regret disrupting her life for the sake of my selfish emotional outbursts.
There were times I thought I could talk to her. And in my drunken stupor I would chase her around the house chirping and meowing like a madwoman.
She has forgiven me for these antics. She sleeps beside me now. Buried in deep, deep dreams of the old and dying.
I cannot help but remember her youth. I drilled shelves into the wall, so she could climb. I helped her make friends with my sister’s parakeets. She would help me study by, of course, laying on my papers when it was time for sleep.
She loved to get into my books. She loved the smell of my backpack. When I came home from the library, my backpack was the first thing she went to. I would spread my books out on the floor, ready to read and take notes – and she would be there to help. And play with the pages.
But no matter the chaos in the house. No matter where she could have gone, she was always there for me. She is my beautiful girl. My heart. And I am faced with a decision.
Do I let her continue to suffer? Or do I let her go?
But it’s not just letting her go, is it? That’s what makes it so hard. I am making the decision to send her into the night. What pretense! What ego I must have!
But she suffers! She weighs five pounds, and should weigh at least ten. Her heart races. I can feel it when I pick her up, when I pet her, when I give her medicine. She will not get better.
I love her – with all my heart, I love her. I cannot bear to see her suffer another day.
Making the decision to end the suffering of your pet is a hard thing to do. Some recommend thinking of three things that your pet enjoys doing every day. Notice whether they still do those three things every day. If they stop doing them, then the time has come.
Others say its better to make the decision a week too soon than a day too late. Perhaps this statement feels a bit harsh, but it calls into question our selfishness and our reasons for keeping our pet in suffering.
I cannot give you a hard and fast answer for when it is the right time to put your pet down. Talk to your vet. Talk to your pet. And get quiet with yourself and your higher power. If you face this hard decision honestly, you will know what to do.
I know what to do. I hate it. Every fiber in my heart rebels against it. But Brenna is suffering. I cannot bear to watch her suffer anymore.
I have written this post through tears and sobs. I am saying goodbye to my sweet girl – my beautiful girl – my Brenna.
Author’s Note: I said goodbye to my beautiful girl at 9:00 this morning, 12/13/18. She fell asleep peacefully while my husband and I pet her and told her it was okay. She’s resting now, no longer in pain, no longer in constant hunger/thirst. I think I made the right decision for her, but I cannot begin to describe the pain I feel. I miss her so much.