Dottie

“Elsewhere”
For Dottie. Words are not enough.

Death is an incontrovertible part of life.

Why do we struggle so? What is it about this final veil–the veil which separates forever the living from the dead–that causes us to beat our flying fists against it so firmly, so resolute with no result? If death is a part of life, why does it hurt so much?

My cat died on Monday.

“It’s just a cat…” you think.

“No,” I tell you. “She is a soul.”

She was my friend and confidante. She fought death as hard as I did, soldiers in the same struggle. But when the time came for surrender, she let me know. Huddled in the back of the pantry, her eyes were dull. They were…elsewhere.

I cried. I laid on the cold kitchen floor. I tried to touch her. She didn’t care. She was…elsewhere.

I agonized over the decision to call home pet hospice.

“It’s just a cat…” you think.

“Not so,” I tell you. “She is a friend.”

The euthanasia veterinarian wouldn’t arrive for two hours. My heart ached as if it had exploded and was melting down the inside of my chest. How to drink in her presence for these last hours? How best to honor her final moments? How best to keep my sanity?

I went and watched TV. To do otherwise was torture, and yet, in retrospect, I am desperate for one more moment, one more minute, one more stroke of the head, one more scratch of the chin. But she was…elsewhere.

The veterinarian arrived and I stopped breathing. I didn’t recognize the great choking sobs I heard coming from myself. I sat in our favorite chair with her comfy pillow. I laid down the blanket on which she was to die. I played the music she had sung to me a month before:

“This is not the end; this is not the end of this.

We will open our eyes wide, wider.

This is not our last, this is not our last breath.

We will open our mouths wide, wider.

And you know you’ll be alright;

You know you’ll be alright.

This is not the end; this is not the end of us.

We will shine like the stars, bright, brighter.”*

The veterinarian–gentle, oh so gentle–talked to me as if I was a cornered animal, out of options, scared, confused. And so I was. She delicately lifted a black and white paw and made an impossibly small injection. My friend, my lovely girl was no longer in pain, though her heart beat on. She was…elsewhere.

The final needle goes in. My stomach drops. My spirit weeps, keeps weeping. Waiting, whispering, grasping at this last contact, wanting desperately to keep it, to hold one moment forever. Life slips away; I tell her she is beautiful, she is loved. After a kitty-lifetime of confidences, I can think of nothing else to say. I want to tell her it’s OK, but that is a dishonesty.

The veterinarian listens to the so recently-beating heart and whispers, “She is at peace now.”

I weep openly, loudly, bereft-ly.

My girl is…elsewhere.

*Gungor, “This is Not the End” from the album Ghosts Upon the Earth

2018-07-05T21:13:03+00:00 June 28th, 2018|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. malcindor July 2, 2018 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    I am so very sorry your your loss. A pet is never “just a XXX”. They are our children, our companions, sometimes our everything. The pain of losing them is so great you think you will go insane. Nothing anyone tells you makes it better, nothing will ever make it better, only time will dull the pain (I hope). I lost my little Max on June 13 and I cry for him every single day.

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