This is a long post. If you want to read it, do. This is me writing for the sake of my own well being, and to answer questions I’d rather not answer multiple times.
As the headline might infer, the past week was not one of my best. It may certainly have been one of my worst.
Monday evening was spent staying up late into the early morning slaving over Logic & Algorithms coursework. After several hours of grinding through truth tables, logical equivalencies and inverter gates, I was able to get some sleep at about 4:30am. I woke up at 7am to get ready for my 8am class, also Logic and Algorithms.
After struggling to stay awake in class, I got home and immediately cut out the lights to get a few more hours of sleep before starting work for the day. After about an hour, I get a call from my mom, sobbing. She and my sister found my cat Annabelle laying in a creek, half of her body in the near-freezing running water. When called, she would not move; she could not move. She had thrown up a few times in the garage earlier that morning as well, a clear indication that something was wrong.
She called to let me know that she was at the Animal hospital, alive but struggling. I decided to skip the rest of my classes for the day and drive the hour or so trip to Mooresville.
When I got the hospital, I let my mom and sister go home. They’d been there for about two hours as it was, and they didn’t need to sit there all day. Once I got in and sat down, they brought Annabelle out to me; after she’d been given bloodtest and x-rays.
The nurse handed her to me, swaddled in a few warm towels; the best effort to keep her warm. Her body temperature wasn’t regulating, and only an incubator could warm her up. As I held her, the nurse told me about what was happening, her theories, and what our options could be.
As it turned out, they didn’t know what was wrong with her. At first they considered a heart disease, but the x-rays proved that all of her organs were working fine for a cat her age (15 human years). The only thing they couldn’t determine was correctly working was her brain.
As she went on, I continued holding and petting Annabelle. She struggled to keep here eyes open and head up, as if it took every ounce of energy in her body to keep her eyelids open.
If she had some sort of neurological disease, it would explain her symptoms. Difficulty moving her limbs, near impossible mobility, and an almost incognizant gaze in her eyes, like she wasn’t even there.
After a few more hours of tests, the doctor gave me an ultimatum. They could not figure out what was wrong with her. He said, “We have a cat that’s internally normal, but she’s just not being normal. She’s lethargic and depressed. Based on what we’ve seen, this is likely brought on by a neurological disease. It’s honestly something we’d have no idea what to do with.”
Option 1. Go to an expensive neurologist that would not be able to cure her, but would help in providing treatment to make a few more years of her life slightly more bearable. In essence, a piss-poor existence where she’d have trouble eating and keeping her body warm.
Option 2. Euthanize. Let her go. Say goodbye.
If the neurological treatment would’ve provided a cure for her condition, it’s likely that I would’ve jumped on it, as shocking as the costs were. But since there wasn’t even close to a guarantee that she might even make it through treatment, I didn’t want her life to end that way. If for some reason she received the treatment, she would live a life of non-mobility, inability to eat on her own, and receive no affection, as we all have school and jobs to attend to and couldn’t be with her during the lonely parts of the day.
With my family beside me, I gave him the ok to go ahead with the Euthanasia process.
My sisters left the room, couldn’t stand to watch as they put to rest a family member we’ve had for 15 years. Some would argue she was just a pet, but when you’ve had a cat for 15 long years, almost longer than I’ve had my little sister, it’s the definition of heartbreak when you have to sign to put her to sleep. Annabelle has slept on my bed, on my stomach even, for all those years. She’s gone to bed beside me and woken up with me. She sat on my desk while I played games, and laid all over my keyboard when I was trying to work. She would bat at the computer mouse I was using, trying to cutely garner my attention. Now, she was just a slump of her former self, unable to even lick my face when I held her.
But I knew we had to let her go.
They gave her the injection, and I held her with both my arms, just the way I’ve always held her. I rocked her like a baby and pet her head softly as she slowly closed her eyelids. For the last time, I hugged her and pressed my forhead to hers and said “I love you annie, everything’s going to be alright.”
The doctor put the monitor to her chest for a few moments. “Alright, she’s gone.”
They put her in a box, gave her to me. I took her home, and with my father, picked a spot in the woods on our property where she could be buried. My sisters wrote notes to her on the outside of the box, as did I. They wrote about a paragraph about missing her, and how it’s sad that she’s gone.
I simply wrote, “I love you. Requiescat in pace.” (italian for rest in peace)
After we buried her and stood up to head home, my father said these words, words I’m sure will continue to stick with me.
Facing down at her grave he said:
“Sweetie, you’ve brought a lot of happiness to this family.”
He lead the way out of the forest, and we headed back toward the house. Albeit painful, this was God allowing us the opportunity to say goodbye. If we hadn’t found her out by that creek, we would never had the chance to show her how much she meant. Though animals wander off to die alone by nature, I’m glad we didn’t let nature take its course that way.
Annabelle was 80 years old when she died this week.
She died the way she lived, with all of us around her, petting her and loving her.
Heartbroken, I couldn’t ask for more.