Things were just a little off this morning. Brillo echoed the alarm clock by meowing in my ear at 5:30 am. Chaucer’s strident meow from the doorway announced he was starving.
It was a morning like any other morning. Except Bailey wasn’t there to smack me on the head with his paw if I didn’t respond immediately. He wasn’t there to echo the meows of his sister and brother. He wasn’t there to lead me to the cabinet where the cat food is kept as I stumbled into the kitchen and tried not to trip over him, something I was not always successful at.
|My baby kitty Bailey|
Bailey is in heaven, rolling in a field of catnip and, if I know my baby kitty, looking for the chance to get into some mischief. (God, if you’re listening, don’t leave your laptop unattended. Keys have a way of disappearing when You’re not looking and Bailey is around.)
I made the toughest decision of my life last night – I told Dr. Salmon at VETTS in Charlottesville it was time to end Bailey’s suffering. He had been diagnosed with HCM at the beginning of December and while initially the medicines he was on worked well, he quickly went downhill. Since Christmas Eve, he has been in and out of the emergency vet clinic and Woodworth Animal Hospital. It has been a steady downward spiral and when I came home last night and found him struggling to breathe, I knew this was it.
Dr. Salmon, Vivian, and Molly at VETTS were wonderful. They were waiting for us when we arrived and Vivian whisked Bailey off to an oxygen crate. She got some additional information from me, then Dr. Salmon came into talk with me. She told me what she thought was happening and what we could do. We could intervene, she said, and it would buy Bailey a “few days.”
No, I said, I couldn’t do that to myself. More importantly, I couldn’t do that to Bailey. “It’s time,” I told her. She nodded. “Just because it is the right thing to do, it is never the easy thing to do,” she said.
After I signed the paperwork consenting to the euthanasia, Vivian brought Bailey into me. I had decided I wanted to be with him when he slipped from my arms to God’s. “Take as long as you want,” she told me, after giving me a hug.
Bailey and I spent our last 20 minutes together, snuggling and cuddling. I told him how much I loved him, shared memories of all the silly things he’d done in the past five and a half year, and told him again how much I loved him.
And then it was time. Dr. Salmon had me stand at his head while Vivian held him still. It was over in less than a minute. Bailey slipped away from me, with his head on my hand, the way it often was when I was on the computer and he was snoozing next to me.
Bailey will be cremated and I will get the ashes back. I am going to plant a tree this spring in his memory and bury the ashes there. Bailey will live in my heart and my memory, but a tree will be that visual reminder of the kitty with the goofy cat personality. Bailey could always make me smile with his antics, even this morning, in the middle of my grief.
Mama loves you, baby kitty, and she always will. Rest in peace.