This is a testimonial to an extraordinary being named Mannie, a feline, my best friend, teacher, and life companion.
Mannie passed away a little before 14:00 PST on January 12, 2006, less than 48 hours after I had taken him up to see his regular veterinarian.
There are no words to express the state of shock and sorrow I am in. I was not prepared, though I thought I was. I knew it had to happen. And when it did, it came so suddenly and unexpectedly yesterday.
Since late November, he had started to walk again out of the bedroom and climb back onto the Barca-lounger into the living room, waiting–all eyes and ears–when I got home in the evening and giving me his customary little soundless cry of "Welcome back. I missed you."
The cliche to the effect that "the more you love, the more you suffer when you lose [the object of that]love" is true.
If I had only had a video cam-recorder for all those times, my heart melted and smiled when I saw/heard/touched/snuggled with him…
It was, I admit, a lot of work, and sometimes I didn’t think I could keep doing it. But I saw him through to the end, very very imperfectly.
He was already 16 years old, a pretty old age for a cat, when my friend got him. We had had him for only about 3 years and two months. I never expected that he would occupy the primary place in my heart and life.
I had no idea at the time that he would teach me some of the deepest lessons in life. Not a religious person myself, I will wonder to the last days of my life if he weren’t indeed a bodhisattva: an enlightened sentient being who has forsaken to enter Nirvana to help others on the road towards enlightenment.
I have his ashes in two weeks in a little urn, and I would to keep them close to me so that when I die, Mannie’s and my ashes be mixed together and then scattered over the Pacific Ocean.
His numbers had been very good up until the last time his complete blood panel. In the past year his BUN had ranged from 44 to 51, creatinine 1.9 to 2.3, phosphorus from 3.7 to 4.1, and potassium from 5.2 to 4.6, HCT within the normal range. A half year earlier, his numbers had been BUN 35, creatinine 2.3., HCT 38.4.
After 5-6 days of his not eating well or not at all, I rushed Mannie in on Thursday afternoon to see his veterinarian. The latter did a thorough exam, without blood panel, said that he looked "alert" and had lost half a pound since September.
In the end, the vet gave him a prednisolone injection and said to wait another 7 or 8 days to see if that didn’t turn things around. He gave no indication that Mannie was in serious trouble.
But in the next 36 hours, Mannie went rapidly downhill, for reasons I will perhaps never know or understand. I was able to refer to the "final hours" on Tanya’s site which I had read at a dozen times before, which confirmed to me that the end might indeed be rapidly descending upon him.
It was on Friday when I got back home in the evening around 8:00 pm that I actually knew something was seriously wrong.
Despite the prednisolone injection the day before and my giving him 2 mg. of cyproheptadine, he had touched his food. Nor had he urinatedonce.
I tried to assist-feed him A/D before I went to bed. It oozed and fell out of his mouth. I knew he could not possibly take it in, no matter how much I insisted or forced him. It was simply shocking, making him miserable,and ultimately cruel.
So I let down on the ground and he stumbled a few steps. Then he just crouched and stood there. So I picked up and put him on the bed, finally covering him up with two fleece blankets.
He was so weak. He couldn’t lie down on the mattress normally, but, instead, lay on his side, limp as a rag-doll.
And as I lay down in bed beside Friday evening, I could hear the difficulty he was having breathing, the occasional short whole-body convulsions, a rasping sound in his throat. All of the signs of the "Final Hours" listed on Tanya’s website were there.
I really thought he would die during those early morning hours. My financial resources are extremely limited and I don’t have a car, so I could not get him to a 24-hour emergency clinic.
In retrospect, I know know that I was in a state of frozen panic. I turned on my white noise machine (I have a neighborhood who stomps above like a baby elephant at night) and tried to block out any disturbing thoughts.
I did not even really say goodbye to Mannie, or cradle his poor, weak body in my arms as I had always planned to, at the end.
When I called my vet in the morning around 9:00 a.m., only his answering machine responded, saying that me that he was completely booked for that day. I had wanted simply to find out whether: another option now was possible or if I should let him go immediately.
In any case I knew that he needed to be rushed to a clinic. I eventually found another veterinarian that could receive us, one that I trusted.
And the difficult decision had to made, although I already knew mentally what I would have to say, even though I hoped against all odds that this vet would say, "Take some sulfacrate. He still has a chance."
My regular vet would not prescribe for us even though I had ask twice from the day after Christmas until I saw him in-person Thursday, January 10, 2008).
I had told others in the month after Mannie crashed in early July of 2006 and had somehow survived that when the time, mourning for Mannie would be like "not being able to let go but still having to."
In other words, one cannot emotionally let go even though he has to, simply because the cat is dead and one will never be able to see, hear, touch, communicate with him ever again. This acceptance is what is most difficult.
In other words, there is no choice but to let go, in the end.
I always had the fond wish to hold Mannie in my arms for all eternity. I still do.
He taught me the meaning of "basic goodness," something I had not believed existed in the world and in my life as I had lived it up until he came into my life. With this experience of "basic decency," I think I felt love for the first time in my life.
I wish to express my profound gratitude to Mannie for being just who he was and the awakening my long dormant heart. He brought me joy, wonder, tenderness, and beauty.
There is no way that Mannie and I could have gotten through the 18 additional months he lived only by ourselves and with without the aid of the Yahoo! Feline CRF Support Group.
There were things I did wrong, useful suggestions that I did not follow, and ways I could have expressed my love to him more generously, more fully. Please forgive me, Mannie.
Finally, I would like to mention the following website, which I found very valuable, the night following Mannie’s death, in helping me to begin grieving:
[Apologies for the typos, grammatical or lexical mistakes, errors in my recollection, incoherence, etc. It is Saturday at 4:00 a.m., just 13 hours after he was euthanized].
Mannie, I love you and I need your love. I did not know how to love you when you were alive. I wish I had.
I promised to cradle to cradle you in my arms until the end of eternity.
Please forgive and do not forget me. Wait until I can join you.
May my best and truest companion in life rest in peace for eternity.