I’m not exactly sure where to begin, and please forgive me if some of this writing seems a bit disjointed – as – you see, I buried my cat today.
Yes, you read that correctly, I buried my cat. As most pet owners can attest to he was, of course much more than just a cat. Nomad was my buddy. For almost 17 years (nearly half my life, I should add) he has been my buddy. He has been around for my bachelor days, college days, apartment hopping days, when I bought my house, when I got married, when I started a career, when I brought each of my 3 children home, when I got divorced, and he was there as I start this new stage of my life. He’s lived a hell of a life :}
Now, I am what I would consider your typical man: I’m into cars, hot women, hiding my feelings, boobs, drinking beer, doing stupid manly things, sports, doing my best to be a good father and the rest of the stuff that "manly men" are supposed to do.
That however, hasn’t stopped me from bawling my eyes out like a little girl over the last 2 days.
Given his age, I suppose I fooled myself into thinking I was prepared for what I knew the vet was going to tell me yesterday. I saw but didn’t see the weight loss. I saw but didn’t see the lethargy. I saw but didn’t see the change in behavior. The blood in the urine was no big deal, I told myself it was just like the urinary infection he had about 10 years ago. I was wrong. I wasn’t prepared at all for bladder cancer.
Typical conversation that you see in movies or on E.R. ensues, his age, nothing we can do, even if we could – the money would be astronomical, suffering, blah blah. All while doing my best to hold back tears that just won’t stop. He then asks me if I wanted to take care of it right then. I really do think my heart stopped for a moment. "NO!" I blurted out. "Can I take him home, and do it tomorrow?" I have to confess, my reasons for delaying one day were mostly selfish. I WASN’T ready. I had tricked myself into thinking I was going to be ok with this outcome, and I was pissed. Plus, I really wanted my kids to have a chance to say goodbye as well. They all have known him all their lives, and I thought it was only fair. It was hard. I dropped Nomad off at home, then went to go tell the kids. Their reaction was quite similar to mine, actually only quite a bit louder..:} Then we made plans. Nomad, you see, is a voracious meat eater. I mean hellish when it comes to meat. You have to be careful when you give it to him lest you lose the tip of your finger in the process. Any kind steak, chicken, pork you name it he LOVED it.
We ended up having a wonderful evening. We all went to the store, bought a couple of steaks, kitty treats and half and half. I grilled it, and we all shared Nomad’s last dinner. The cat was completely spoiled rotten all evening, between dinner itself, the leftover steak, treats, half and half plus of course all the attention. We even let him eat right there on the counter!! :} (cats on counters is a big no-no for me) Bedtime was a touch difficult for the kids, they were starting to get sad but eventually all settled down.
This morning was rough. Nomad was in great spirits, of course which is why I think it was that much harder. He acted FINE. The kids (and myself) had a hell of a time with it. Eventually after tearful goodbyes, I got the kids out so I could bring them home.
While I was there, we dug his grave at the spot the kids helped me pick out yesterday. It’s a nice secluded spot, back near the woods.
I came back and spent my last half hour with him. I got a little misty, but not too bad as I held him. My Girlfriend came home from work to go with me, and well there was no good reason to delay.
We went, and I was doing mostly ok. Part of me was still gripping with (yes, I know it’s unfounded, but still hard to shake) the fact that *I* was ending his life. I know damn well it’s really the cancer, but *I* decided it was time. I sure hope he doesn’t mind my making this decision on his behalf. Anyway, I was fine that is, until the vet walked in. Just the sight of him made me well up again. He asked me if I had reconsidered. I almost laughed, actually. "Of course," I said. "but that’s not fair to him." (or something like that I already forget the exact wording)
He leaves and comes back with an assistant and of course the needle. I have Nomad laid out on a towel I brought to wrap him in afterwards. His burial shroud, if you will. I’m petting him, as I’m holding him down. He’s purring!!!! God dammit, he’s purring!! I wanted to scream with the wrongness of that purr. That cruel irony. With my one hand on the side of his head, feeling his last purr .it was over. (if this was an actual hand written note right here is where the tear drop stains would be) It literally took about 25 seconds from start to finish. I wrap him up tightly (Which took me longer to do than his dying) and we leave, and I am a friggin mess lol. They usher us out the back door so as not to disturb the other people waiting with perfectly healthy animals hahaha.
So, we then go and bury him. I really can’t say to you why this was so important to me, but it was. If I had had the cat for merely a year, I doubt it would have been. But he WAS part of my family. I laugh at people who get their pets stuffed after they pass. I think that is so twisted and wrong, but yet it was so very important to me that I bury him. It was somber, of course, and my son really lost it as I started shoveling dirt back in. After it was done, we kind of sat back for a moment in silence, which I broke by making a comment to my eldest about how it reminded me of "Where the Red Fern Grows", as she had read it a few months ago. She agreed. It was hard on everyone, especially the kids, but I think it was right. Very right. They grieved with me. They helped me bury him. They shared my pain, and most importantly they too had a chance to say goodbye. Perhaps it’s a good lesson for them. Death sucks, but you still have to deal with it. I could have just as easily had it done yesterday, had the vet take care of everything and then sanitized it all for the kids’ sake. I think it’s better this way all around. We all got to share in something both wonderful and sad. I hope they never forget today, the way they felt and what they learned. I know I won’t. The gravesite is very nice, ringed with stones now and a very nice marker that my Ex Father-In-Law made at my daughter’s request.
Perhaps it seems odd to you that I buried my cat. I for one – am glad I buried my cat today.