Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rituals of loss

She's gone, on the couch, covered in a cream-colored towel. My favorite towel, soft and thick. Our kitty, his kitty first; our beautiful black cat named Teya, who was only nine years young. Too soon.

Brian's outside, digging her resting place, a spot against the house, by the kitchen; she'll be as close to us as possible.

I awoke around 3:15am, after having slept several hours. I had encouraged Brian to spend the night on the couch with her. She had looked not too bad when we brought her home; a little shaky, but perked up, and she was willing to eat.

I'm moving around the house, searching for the right container. A cardboard box will not do. I find a piece of upholstery fabric from the couch, her favorite place to hang out, and I tuck it under my arm, along with some black felt.

He's running hot water to melt the ground. The stump from a catalpa sapling is in the middle of where he's digging, and it's being stubborn. We'd had to cut it down; it was not thriving, and ants were making it worse. It's too bad; I love catalpa trees.

I came downstairs after waking up and asked how she was. Brian said she'd moaned a lot throughout the night. I sat at my desk so I could drink some water and take a Vicodin. I wish she could have had something like it; I knew she was in pain.

I glide down to the basement, my long skirt swirling around my bare feet. I'd been looking for a certain box, but my eyes settled on another one--a better one. A wicker box that I've had for nine years, with a brass clasp. It's big enough that she won't be cramped, but not too big. The box goes upstairs with me.

He's digging away at the stump. I go outside to check on him, and we come up with the idea to use the kitchen sprayer to get hot water onto the frozen ground instead of trekking buckets in and out. He helps me pop out the screen, and we give that a try. It works.

I sat with her, and I tried gently to give her the medicine, but she's not having it. There was something about the way she's clenching her jaw that just seemed wrong. She'd been sleeping, and I had awakened her. We stroked her and held her feet, her head, her ears. I cried, while Brian just touched her. She started to cry out in deep howls that seem to take every effort, and her breathing was labored, so I called the vet's emergency number. We were instructed to take her to the emergency clinic in Latham, so I gave them a call.

I'm taking time out to sob uncontrollably. We're out of facial tissue, so I'm having to use paper towels. Tip: Bounty paper towels are less scratchy than toilet paper.

He's still digging. It's cold and sleeting a bit. It's 5:30 in the morning.

I threw on some clothing; a favorite skirt, and a sweater over my chemise. I brought him a shirt when I came down. He got his shoes on, and he was getting some things together. I looked at her, and I called him into the room. I told him to turn on the light, which he did. I told him to sit down on the other side of her. He looked at me, and sat down. Her breath was coming in gasps, and she'd stopped crying out. I took hold of her paw, her beautiful front paw, with the wrist shaved from her IV the night before.

I line the wicker basket with wax paper, then with the black felt. I tuck a red towel in, then scoop her up and gently settle her into the basket. It's tearing me to shreds. I fold the ends of the towel over her, then close the lid without latching it.

He's nearly done. He scoops the water out of the hole and pours it downhill a bit. I go outside to check on him, and ask him to come in and see.

We had our hands on her, and we told her we loved her, and that we were sorry, so sorry. I cried and cried. She stopped breathing, and had a couple of convulsions. Her pupils became dilated. We tried to close her eyes, without much success. We stroked her for a while after that, not ready to let go. Never ready.

We open the box, and stroke her fur for the last time, saying goodbye. I'm nearly throwing up with grief. He's so stoic, so strong, and I'm a wreck. I tuck in a packet of food, and he puts a couple pieces of bread in the container. Bread is her favorite thing to steal. I also tuck in a towel anointed with violet oil. The lid closes, and is latched.

We went outside with the box and lowered it into the grave. Brian removed it, wanting to dig just a little deeper. While he shoveled, I went inside to get the bulbs I'd procrastinated about planting. When he was satisfied with the depth, he had to climb in to place the box on the bottom. He refilled the hole slowly, and when he was nearly done, I sprinkled the bulbs over the disrupted soil. He put a layer of soil over them, and I went inside and returned with a partial bag of cypress mulch, which we spread over the ground.

We came inside; I made tea to warm us, and I sent him off to shower. If I was cold, I didn't feel it. If I was hurting physically, I wasn't aware. And I did the only thing I know to soothe my soul: I sat down and began to write. And now, I'm done.


Fatadelic said...

I'm sorry to hear that. I'm sitting here and crying my eyes out because I know how devistating it is to have to farewell your beloved cat in such a way, even if it was a release from pain. My thoughts are with you.

Kat said...

So deeply sorry for your loss. My sweet 16 year old kitty passed this year too. I am sharing your sorrow & tears this morning. You'll be in my thoughts.

RioIriri said...

Thank you, both of you. We are pretty devastated. I keep looking over at her spot on the couch, then crying again because she's not there.

Shade said...

I'm so sorry. I was devastated when I lost my cat Max to cancer several years ago.

My thoughts are with you.

Sarah said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. It's so hard to see them suffer and then lose them. Even knowing that they aren't suffering any longer doesn't help that much, for me anyway.

This post is a beautiful and loving tribute to Teya. As hard as it was for you and your husband, I'm glad you were with Teya when she passed.

Your whole family, two-legged and otherwise, is in my thoughts today.

Jessie Mae said...

I'm so sorry. Losing a pet is one of the hardest things to do.

Shannon said...

I'm sorry about Teya. We lost Oscar this past summer. I don't know how old he was but we had him 9 years and he was obviously very old when he died. He was also a beautiful black cat. I kept a dish of cat nip in his food spot for months and was only able to put it away last month. It's hard.

FashionableNerd said...

Aww, gee. I'm so sorry you lost your kitty. I'm sending good thoughts and wishes your way.

Debra said...

Condolences on your sad loss. All life ends in tragedy but it seems to be especially so for our canine and feline friends whose lives of loving innocence always end too soon.

Lindley said...

I'm so, so sorry for your loss.

Laura said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. My husband and I lost our beloved cat Ringo this year. Even though he shared our home for almost 18 years, it was devastating to let him go.

Love your blog-you're a wonderful writer.

Andee said...

I am so sorry. I don't know what else to say. But what an amazing tribute to a feline who was, in the end, lucky to be so well loved.

Andee (Meowser)

Thorny said...

Oh Rio, I'm so sorry.

JeanC said...

{{{Riori}}} hugs for your guy to, it is always so hard to lose a furbaby.

As hard as it is, it was good you were there. She knew she was loved and will be waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge.

vesta44 said...

Rio, I'm so sorry for your loss. It's so hard losing a loved pet. Hugs to both of you.

Rachel said...

I'm sorry to hear about your cat. I've lost two of my fur babies in the past seven years and I was devastated each time. After my first cat died, it helped me to grieve by becoming involved with the local league for animal welfare, a non-kill shelter for dogs and cats. I couldn't bring my cat back, but I could help other pets. In the end, I think they helped me more than I helped them.

carrie said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. So incredibly sorry.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you lost her. Lots of hugs for you.

wiccamagick said...

It is never easy to lose one of our babies and nothing I can say will make it better. Just know that I understand what you are going through and send lots of white light and support to help you get through. You will both see her again at the Rainbow Bridge where she is waiting and probably playing with Sambuca right now ;o)

annaham said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm sure she had a very, very happy life, short as it may have been. <3

SeriousCat said...

Follwed you here from LJ.

I am sitting here crying, and have just given my three cats a very large and long hug.

My heart is breaking for you both.

Kat said...

Just wondering how you guys are doing. Still thinking about you. Take care.