Our two cats, Dusty and Squeakie, are getting a little long in the tooth (well, actually Dusty has lost most of his teeth) and are now fifteen and twelve, old enough for us to be thinking about what we'll do when one or both die. Hate to think about such things but we've lived with enough cats over the years to know such things happen. So, we've decided to get a kitten for the two of them to raise, sort of getting ready for the inevitable. Cats deserve to have at least one friend to live with to avoid that awful feeling of aloneness when we're away on a trip or just gone for the entire day. We made that mistake when Stephanie lived with us for her eighteen years. Too often she was alone and we now know, lonely.
I was re-reading some things I had written twelve years ago, just before we brought Dusty and Squeakie home, fairly soon after our little lady Stephanie had died. It brought back all those feelings of loss and remorse, just like it happened only weeks ago.
Wednesday, August 12, 1998
Today has arrived and we can’t put it off any longer. Stephanie still hasn’t eaten a bite, and it’s now five days. We sat around all afternoon waiting for the 4:00 appointment. And then, finally, it was time to go. Rosalie drove and I held our little old lady and she didn’t even get big-eyed, just like she knew what was going on. I carried her into the clinic and one of the girls there asked me what was wrong, meaning what was wrong with my cat, and I literally burst into tears. Like a baby. And I said I didn’t think I would be staying there with her until she died, I just wasn’t strong enough for it. And the one patted me on the back and told me it was all right, that they’d be very gentle with her. And I blubbered a thank you, signed the euthanasia certificate, wrote the check, and got out of there. Oh, Stephie girl, we’re going to miss you so. We got home, both tearing (both meanings of tear appropriate in this context) all over the place, and without a word we both started picking up all her things, all the papers, all the accumulated drinking glasses, the food dishes, the litter box. I immediately thought of one of the Dickinson poems about death: “The bustle in a house / The morning after death / Is solemnest of industries / Enacted upon earth. / The sweeping up the heart / And putting love away / We shall not want to use again / Until Eternity.” Were we ever bustling around, and sweeping up our hearts. Rosalie told me that just before I got home, Stephanie came out of the bedroom and threw up again . . . on the papers. That’s the fourth time she’s spit up on the papers we had in the hall, just like she knew why they were there. No dummy, our sick little lady. So we’ll eat a tasteless dinner, stare at the television until we fall asleep in our chairs, then stumble off to bed to dream of Stephanie. And maybe weep silent tears into our pillows.
With our new kitty, we're going to try to avoid some of the heartache we felt with the passing of Stephanie.