That’s what Jamie said to me at the vet clinic on Thursday as we watched Fatty quietly take his last few breaths. In that cold, empty moment, his statement echoed in my head and the sterile room seemed to spin. The blood rushed from my face and my knees started to give out from under me – I know I would have fallen had Jamie not been there to lend me the strength I didn’t have.
The day had started like most others: morning kitty snuggles, a groggy cup of coffee, fumble into my shoes, and then a walk for Percival. When Percy and I returned from our morning jaunt and reentered the house, we were met with the overwhelming stench of sickness. Fatty was very, very ill and I could no longer allow myself to rationalize all his symptoms as his usual ailments. My poor, old cat was nearly seventeen years old and had been ill for the past five. He’d been to the vet countless times for endless tests and a whole mess of remedies. I had a decision to make…
Sardonically, the most enfeebling feeling, I believe, comes from the realization that one has the power to decide if another being lives or dies. What a wretched hell for me, as it was not just any being: it was my sweet Fatty. My soft, moldable, literary friend who snuggled with me through many a book. My gentle, lovable old man who loyally slept by my side every night and woke me with his loud purrs every morning.
So many questions and so many shades of gray! Should I do everything in my power to keep him with me longer? Or would the vet visits and the medications just make him miserable and only temporarily fend off the inevitable? And no matter which decision I made, how would I know if it was a selfish one? By letting him go now, would I merely be saving myself the heartache and financial impracticality that comes with maintaining an ailing pet? On the other hand, would prolonging his life merely be for my own benefit and cause nothing but suffering for Fatty?
After several tearful phone calls to my parents, one to Jamie, and one to John (the vet), the decision was made and so was Fatty’s final appointment. Jamie and John carried me through the entire dreadful ordeal, and I’m so thankful they did because I can’t see how I’d have survived it without their kindness. So proud of myself, I’ve been of late, for standing on my own two feet and being on my own in more ways than I knew to be possible – but that all disappeared as I became once again a little girl losing one of my closest friends and one of the few consistencies in my life.
The Universe’s greatest cruelty is that we outlive our animals. This crazy cat lady couldn’t agree more. When Fatty came into my life, he and I needed the same thing: reliable love and devotion. He gave me that a hundred times over – I just hope I always gave him the same in return.