I wrote this post in 2012 when my most beloved companion of 19 years had to be helped across the Rainbow Bridge. I have occasionally shared it with friends to offer some tiny bit of comfort when they are in the same situation. I’m just moving it to my active blog.
Yesterday was a horrible, horrible day. I had to say goodbye to my best friend, a tiny little grey cat.
Tesh has been my constant companion for just shy of 19 years. She slept in my bed under the covers. We’ve traveled together. I hardly know how to eat a piece of chicken without tearing bits off for her. Spoiled rotten and the Empress of my universe just barely begins to cover it.
Euthanasia is a very difficult decision. When is it time? Do we have the right? How long should we wait? We are strongly conditioned against death in our western society. I’m not sure why. Death is a guaranteed part of life. It’s sad, but so is wasting away and living in pain. Surely we don’t want that for our loved ones. Why do we drag things out for them? Make them stay with us? When, with love, we should want something better for them.
Here’s what I learned yesterday. We’re thinking about it the wrong way.
A year ago I learned Tesh had developed kidney disease. We started some medication. A few months ago the progression warranted sub cutaneous fluids and another pill. Then my darling, who has always been exempt from the laws of gravity, stopped being able to jump on the bed. Then it was hard to get to my chair. She lost interest in food.
Then I started thinking maybe she’d pass in her sleep so I wouldn’t have to make a hard decision.
That was a big mistake. If you are starting to hope they’ll pass in their sleep? Its time to start thinking about helping them along. Because there comes a time when they turn the corner between living longer and dying slowly.
I was so conditioned against ‘taking a life’ and so afraid of my own grief that I was looking at assisted passing all wrong. I wasn’t taking anything. I was giving my darling the very last gift I could give her. I held her in my arms. I comforted her during her injection and I cuddled her just as I always had until her little spirit was free. Free from pain. Free from the prison of a body that held her back from all the things she’d always loved.
And I realized that I’d given myself a gift too. I’d had every possible second with her. If she had passed ‘naturally’ she might have been in pain. She might have been scared. She might have been alone. I might have missed those last precious moments. Instead, I was there. There was no fear. No pain. Just the trust that has always been between us, that I would take care of things and everything would be ok for her. She passed easily from her comfortable place on my chest, where she’s spent countless hours, to whatever comes next for those we love.
For me, there is only the knowledge that, as I always have, I did my very best for her. I did not fail her in her last days and minutes. A small comfort with the loss of her loving presence, but since she was going to be lost to me anyway, every little bit makes a difference. Sorrow, but not one moment of regret.