I had my dear Hookie put to sleep ysterday. What a difficult and beautiful process that was for me. I put off calling the vet all morning because I guess I really wasn’t sure what to do. Actually, I put off calling the vet because I didn’t want to let her go. At one point I was laying with her in my closet where she’s set up her own “dying camp,” and then I put her on my chest so we could have some time together. It took her about 3 minutes and she got off my chest and went back to her cushion. That was kind of a clincher moment for me, that she’d rather spend time alone than communing with her loved ones. She hadn’t eaten in 3 1/2 days and was continuing to weaken.
So I called the vet and set up a time (3pm) for them to come by the house to put her down. It was only an hour and a half away, but it was the only time they could do it unless I pushed it 3 more days, and I wasn’t about to stretch her out that much longer. At that point, the rain began, and all the emotion of not wanting her to go came out and I sobbed, and sobbed, soaking a couple of pillows. I just didn’t want to let my “baby” go and it all came out. And I have to admit, it really needed to come out, because that was what was getting in the way of my being able to let her go.
Czarina is here, so after my sobfest and shower, we had a picnic with Hookie before the vet came. I pulled out a bottle of wine I’ve been saving for years which was a 1993 vintage (same year as Hookie was born) and it turned out that it had gone sour. Nice lesson on things not always turning out as you like them to and the sweet in life sometimes becoming sour. We had some homemade pumpkin pie too to remind us of the sweetness of life. Hookie went off to sit on her own in the dirt and tall grass. I like to think that she just needed to be alone to prepare herself.
Anyway, the doctor came with his assistant and we did the proceedure on the window seat with Hookie lying on a nice white cashmere throw blanket, one of her favorite surfaces to sleep on. She was injected with a very heavy sedative and I cradled her for awhile and whispered things in here ear before telling the doctor it was OK to administer the final injection. Once he did, I could see the life just go from her eyes in about 10 seconds. She’s been laying there (with flowers and candles) since then (it’s now the following morning). Seeing her body and spending time with her in this state is definitely helping me to get the finality of this, that she really is gone. Sometime today I’ll make a little coffin for her and bury her out on my land near where we had the picnic.
So a few things I’ve learned (or remembered):
- It’s the “letting go” that is the hardest part about death and separation, the actual death or separation is not nearly as difficult.
- Cat’s still look like they are breathing even after they are gone. I think it’s an optical illusion where the mind is so used to seeing the movements of their breath that we continue to see movement even when it’s not happening. Strange. Further reinforces that in this life, perception is not necessarily reality.
- Having time to say goodbye is very important, and using that time wisely is important as well.
- It sure feels good to cry and let the grief out. It’s critical in clearing space and allowing us to move forward with the difficult steps we must take, in this case it’s the difficult step of letting go.
- The pain of the goodbye and separation in no way overwhelms the gratitude and love that comes from spending truly loving time with another.
- There exists pure love, a love without conditions and judgements. It is possible.
- Petting a cat is instinctive for humans, as it’s easy and compelling to continue to pet a cat even after he/she has died. I guess in a way, love continues to be expressed after someone has died.
- The love that you feel for another in no way lessons after they are gone. It was incredibly clear to me in the moments after her death. I remember now a line in a poem I like. The line is: “Love doesn’t die, people do.” How true.
A strange thing happened after Hookie died. About 20 minutes later, Henry, a large male tabby cat who lives in the neighborhood came into the house crying. It seemed like he wanted to be fed, but it’s only the second time he’s ever come into the house. Perhaps he sensed that something had happened to Hookie. Not sure if I believe it, but at least it’s another data point to that end.
Anyway, I think that’s about it for now. I’ll probably write more later as new feelings and insights become clear. Bye dear one.