Four years two months five days ago I moved from TN, leaving all of my friends and family; everything I had ever known. I had dreamt for years of moving to a bigger city, somewhere not in the south. Somewhere more progressive and kind, more open, more free. I got my wish.
Two weeks after having made the move I began the search for a local facility that was doing great work with animals in a "no-kill" environment, somewhere I could support confidently. I found that facility in the Second Chance Animal Shelter of East Brookfield MA. Spending the better part of a week digging through their online postings of animals searching for a "forever home", I came across a listing. I had been searching to find a single cat. But a brother and sister were the last of their litter and were inseparable.
Having the most beautiful blue eyes and being so adorable at 9 weeks old... well the deal was done. I filled out my adoption application online and waited to be approved. Once I had been, I went the next day to buy supplies. And on my first off day following, I went and picked up the two little balls of light that would be Jacen and Jaina. Named for the children of Han and Leia Solo from the Star Wars expanded universe of novels.
Jacen to the left and Jaina to the right.. Their eyes changing color. Jacen's already gone to green. They would sleep together in the space at the bottom of my nightstand.
For more than four years he was my companion. Never a lap cat but always a loving friend.
At a point when he was about 2 years old we discovered that he had a birth defect that led to what is called a Patellar Luxation. Something that only got worse over time, and that the surgery to correct was far beyond my reach. But for a year or so he adapted and moved along.
He never lost his kindness, and loving desire to remain close. Like he knew when I needed the attention and when it was ok to just run and be a kitty and ignore me totally lol.
In the last year though his health became a more and more serious concern. Having gone from a nearly 18lb cat to what I found out on Monday to be a 10lb cat. In the space of about 12 or 13 months.
I guess I fooled myself into thinking that he was just adjusting and loosing his excess weight for a time. And then I discovered evidence that he wasn't just trimming down but becoming ill.
When I got home from a recent trip back to TN to visit my family, I was given a real shock as to his state. Having been away for two weeks and coming back I saw, for the first time, just how far he had gone. The weight loss, his troubles moving or jumping. So I considered contacting the shelter I got him from to look into surrendering him back to them so that they might provide him with the health care he so obviously needed. The plan was set and the date marked.
The night before in a last ditch effort to find a way to help him and keep him I applied for a health credit line and was approved. Encouraged and given a way out I told the shelter I wanted to hold off. To take him to his vet and see if the prognosis was still as bad as I thought.
Monday morning, August 23rd, making the trip to his vet, what would be his last trip, the prognosis was worse than I had feared. The vet feeling that there was a strong chance of cancer and that with his mobility issues his health was at a severe low state. And the phrase "considering putting him down wouldn't be the worst choice" was uttered.
I thought I had kind of been making peace with this possibility for a few days. I was wrong.
Sitting there with the doc and assistant while petting Jacen we discussed the options and the long term probabilities. And then I was offered a few moments to make a decision. My heart screamed/screams out "no!" But my head was telling me that I knew what I needed to do, what was best for him in the long term.
The decision was made, and I was given time to just sit with him. Having never been one to enjoy being held for any period of time, he just sat peacefully in my arms with his face planted into the crook of my elbow and purred. And purred. He looked back and up at me a few times, once giving me just a little meow as I sat there holding him and petting him all the while tears flooding my face.
The office was kind and caring, they checked me out in the room and took care of the arrangements so that I would receive his ashes back. Everything was set.
And I cried.
I got to be with him and pet him and kiss him. He laid his little head down into my hand and I kissed his head.
With my tears of love and my breaking heart I whispered a prayer in his ear that Mother Universe would see him on his way, to take care of his special heart and light. I prayed that he find his peace in his next existence among the light of the world. Forever in my heart, forever a part of me. And told him I love him.
A moment later the vet, having been listening to his heart, says "He's gone."
They took some clippings of his hair, so that I would have his colors. And then I was left to spend a few moments more with him. As hard as this had been, it was harder still to walk out of that room and just leave him there.
The whole event feeling like hours had only been 1. Finally I gathered myself up and left.
My dear sweet Jacen, you brought so much love, light, and life into my home and my heart. Living so far away you helped me to feel like I was never truly alone. I sit here now, recounting events.. but unable to remotely express the impact you've had on my life. Your empty collar and tags by my keyboard and I ask, "what have I done?" I know I made the correct choice, but my heart is still breaking.
You are loved. You are special. You are my friend. And with my "I love you", you drew your last and let go the pain. How long and how short 4 years seems. It covers a lifetime and yet covered so little time. You will always be the little furrball that helped keep the lights on in my life when all else felt dark.
I keep expecting to see you come around the corner, with a jaunty little meow teasing me to pet you before you run off to do your own thing. I miss you so much already, there are not the words. And so the tears simply fall.
I love you dear friend, and in peace may you forever rest.