Sam and I drank toasts to Bob’s life, then we did something I never imagined-we set up a place for Bob in our bedroom. It was late at night and the Vet wouldn’t be open until morning. We decided to keep Bob near us-not in our bed, but nearby. I put a small blanket over Bob’s body, foolishly, to keep him warm. I could see his head resting on another blanket. He looked comfortable. I kissed him good night with tears in my eyes. It was very surreal.
Sam fell asleep, but I could not. I kept thinking about Bob, reliving watching him die, wondering if I did right by him or if there even is such a thing as the “right thing.” I gave up trying to sleep at 3am. I went downstairs to my office and put together a little memorial page for Bob to be posted on Covered in Cat Hair. I wanted to close the door to this blog-in his honor. My heart was broken and my voice, silenced. There were no words for me, for now. Just tears.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Rest in Peace.
The next morning, we drove to the Vet. I sat in the back seat with Bob’s body on a cat bed next to me. His body was cold and hard. I petted him anyway. I thought about all the drives we made to Wappinger Falls, NY, for Bob to get chemo with me sitting next to him, his head resting on my hand. How I could feel his purr through my palm…the time he sat on my lap, he saw a truck passing and HISSED at it through the closed window—how it made me laugh. I remembered, too, that Bob never hissed at us.
I thought about how Bob was a stray cat that showed up at my Mother’s house in 1999; that my Father let Bob in the house, against my Mother’s wishes. My Father had dementia from numerous strokes, but he loved Bob and wanted him to be part of our family. Tragically, Daddy killed himself later that year. Bob stayed on with my Mother.
People will say he was her cat and that now he would go to Heaven and be with her, but I would argue that point. My Mother never cared for Bob. She fed him crap. She petted him, but she NEVER took him to the Vet. For the past five years I struggled to help Bob overcome the fact he had FIV+ because my Mother didn’t neuter him...how the FIV caused him all sorts of issues and probably caused the cancer to develop, too. I was so angry. Bob never had to die like this-and maybe he could have had an even longer life if he had just been neutered when he was young. My only solace was imagining that there were little “Bobs” all over northern Trumbull, CT. It made me smile as I looked down at my dead friend’s body.
We arrived at the Vet. We had to go to the back door of the building-of course, so the other clients wouldn’t see a dead cat and get upset. There was a big freezer by the door. I knew what it was for. I asked if we could put Bob in the body bag-that was protocol-a task they would normally do for their clients, but I didn’t think it was right for anyone but Sam or I to handle him.
They brought us a black plastic bag and some tape. We left Bob on his favorite blanket and I kissed him goodbye. Sam slipped his body and the blanket into the bag. I didn’t want to leave his body-I guess that’s pretty sick, but I did not want to let go. It’s our nature to feel this way, I knew that, but it didn’t make it any easier to leave him. I took another deep breath and carefully sealed up the bag. I wrote Bob’s name on the tape and drew hearts on either side of it. I knew they would place his body in the freezer, until the person from the pet crematory arrived to take him after the Labor Day holiday is over.
Bob will come back to me next week, but this time it will be inside a little tin box. I hate those boxes. I have a collection of them now. Each one reminds me of a life lost, of a friend I will never see again.
©2011 Ryan Feminella. This is the only photo of have of me & Bob together. It was taken a few weeks before he died.
My only comfort is knowing that I fought hard for Bob. I didn’t put him down months ago when he was starting to go downhill, I kept fighting for him-for his dignity-for the right to die in a natural way no matter how grueling it was on us and as long as Bob wasn’t in obvious pain. He was a living creature who deserved that basic tenet. Through this experience I’ve learned a lot more about being patient, being gentle with myself and others, and to deeply appreciate the little things. I look around and see my seven cats. This story will be about them, one day, but today we’re all together and we’re all basically fine. We have our obstacles, like anyone else, but maybe now just the fact that Spencer sits beside me washing his face after having his breakfast is just as wonderful as if I won a Lottery. He’s healthy and robust, relaxed and content. This moment is not ignored, it’s quite the opposite. This moment, like each moment today, should be revered because it isn't always going to be like this. I won't always have this moment. I don’t want to look back and realized I didn’t know how much I had, as the saying goes, until it’s gone.
©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Beautiful Bob as he once was.
Bob was a magnificent creature—so perfectly calm, cool and collected with a big, big heart. I never heard him growl. He mooched food off my dinner plate and hated to be picked up, but there was something about him that always made me smile. I was honored to be part of his life and now, his death.