This week has been a little foggy for me. As some know, we had some bad news over the weekend and found out our dear little kitty, Ebby had kidney failure. It was terrible; I had seen changed behavior in her, a little lost weight and symptoms that reminded me of when she had a "kitty cold". But at the vet office we found out she was in very bad shape and there was really nothing the vet or we could do. She had lost half of her body weight since she had last been to the vet and was terribly dehydrated. They gave her some fluids injected under her skin and we took her back home. It was a very sad day.
You see, this kitty had been with us for 10 years......the kitty that my two children and I had when I was a single mom. This was more than just a kitty - but a memory of that time - something that my two children really connected with our time as just the "three of us". Not only had this kitty won over the heart of my new husband (who hates cats!) and step-son; she was a symbol for us as a "pre-blended" family.
I brought our kitty home Saturday afternoon and shared the news with everyone. I had made the decision to have her put down on Monday; the vet wasn't sure if she would even make it through the weekend, but I was determined to take her home and SPOIL her for as long as I could. We bought extravagant cat food at the specialty pet store (yep $3.00 a can) which she managed to eat, we cuddled her, sat with her and talked "kitty" talk to her for 2 days.....and cried. Yes, our entire family cried and navigated this hard decision of having to put her down and how we would choose to carry out this task. At my first thought I didn't want anything to do with her last few minutes of life, it was too much to bare, but as our family discussed this inevitable act, it was unanimous that we would all go to the vet and be there when she was put down. As a mom and a parent coach, I wondered if this was the right decision, to allow my children, ages 8-16 be a participant in this decision and to be there to view our little kitty dying. As I look back, I know I made the right decision to allow them to actively participate. The experience we all went through as a family could not have happened by me sharing how it was to be there, or them imagining what it was like.
We lovingly surrounded our little black kitty, all 5 of us....stroking her as she lay fairly content, not scared as I feared she would be during her last few minutes with us - but she was peaceful, and I was so grateful. I could not imagine allowing her to be scared and frightened, surrounded by people she didn't know as she breathed her last breathe. We were all sobbing and sharing this experience together, as a family - that is when I know for sure I had made the right decision.
We brought her home and my husband had already spent the afternoon preparing a spot in our backyard for our Ebby to be put to rest. It was a rainy, dark and icky evening - all of us standing around under umbrellas as we shared the finality together. What our family gained from this experience will live on just like our memories of Ebby.
I have had such nice responses to our family's loss on my facebook fan page
and I cannot thank you all enough. You have offered suggestions to how our family can remember our kitty and also work through the process of grief, which so often just gets pushed back into the depths of our guts and never really worked through. I can say that this experience has given my children a completely different view of life and death, how to share tears together, express feelings and lean on each other. I know for sure my kids would never have learned that from a book or from me explaining it to them. There are just some situations you have to experience in order to understand and grow from. This was certainly one of them.
Now, I will grab my box of tissue and cry my heart out once again, as I have sat here typing with tears dripping on my keyboard. This was something I wanted to share; something I had to write down in order to step through one more phase of grief. Isn't it amazing how these little furry creatures we let come into our lives truly grab our hearts and run? I couldn't imagine it any other way and am so thankful to have had Ebby as part of our family.