Thursday, February 24, 2011

Saying good-bye...

I’ve been MIA from blogging for awhile because I’ve been struggling with my next entry. I wouldn’t call it writer’s block…more like emotional block.

A couple of weeks ago Thomas and I said good-bye to someone very special, someone who would normally be sitting in my lap right now as I type. Of course, he wouldn’t like being moved every three minutes while I get up for more tissues. But then again, if he were here, I guess I wouldn’t need any.

Boots was a very special kitty. He’d been abandoned and abused and was feral when I first encountered him near my apartment in Tucson, Ariz. It took months of coaxing, but he finally calmed down and started his new life as a pampered house kitty. He even, maybe not surprisingly, completely lost interest in going outside. 

Boots, the sweetest cat with the saddest eyes
Unfortunately, he’d been cursed with several health problems over the last couple of years. And as were preparing for our move to Germany, our vet cautioned us about the stress that traveling may cause on Boots. But, what other choice did we have? I was afraid (and admittedly, selfish) that he would feel abandoned if I left him with friends or family.  I would never put him through that again. And after all, you never leave behind a member of the “herd” (as Thomas and I say in regard to us and our kitty family).

The first few months here in Germany, Boots was fine. It wasn’t until earlier this month that we started seeing signs of his health beginning to decline, and I started to get a horrible, sinking feeling in my stomach.

We took him the vet on a Thursday evening. Fortunately, Thomas came with me as the entire visit was in German. She ran some tests. We waited. Had a coffee. Petted Boots. And worried. Thirty minutes later she called us back in. Even in my elementary German, I could tell from her tone alone that the prognosis wasn’t good. Now I know how animals feel when they hear people speaking. She gave him some medication and sent us home with some special food, which he hardly touched.

The next day, his condition worsened. It was painfully clear that Boots was dying. I always knew that one day I would have to say good-bye. But that didn’t make one bit easier.

We took him back to the vet, desperately hoping something could be done. But it couldn’t. The vet explained that only humane option was euthanasia. I kept hoping I misunderstood and held my breath as Thomas choked out a translation.

Giving consent was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.

We stayed with him until the very end, something I’d always promised him – and myself – that I would do. Thomas and I stroked him until the vet told us in German that his heart was “still.”

I still have a hard time believing he’s gone. And I’ll always have so many what-ifs. What if I hadn’t moved him across the Atlantic. What if I tried more types of food. What if I’d taken him to the vet a little sooner… But for all the what-ifs, I can’t help but remember all of the good years we had together and how much he’d changed from that beat-up feral cat to a loving, gentle member of our family.

Shortly after his death, Thomas and I were in the kitchen washing dishes when a soap bubble drifted in front of us. Normally, I wouldn’t have noticed it, except that it lingered in the same spot for an unusually long time before it disappeared behind the laptop on the counter. Now, I’m not the religious type and maybe this sounds odd, but I’d like to think that maybe that was Boots, just stopping by to let us know he’s still here, watching out for us and the other furbabies.