Friday, March 16, 2012

Shadow

We said goodbye the same way we said hello.

As a child, a lot of pets filtered in and out of my life. We had dogs, birds, ferrets and even an iguana. A lot of these animals were either given to us by someone because they thought we could care for it better, or given by us to someone else for the same reason.

Only one stuck with me.

On a disgustingly hot summer day in 1998, I was 11 years old, and my mother and I were at the local pet store to see if they would take in the aforementioned iguana. Mom's friend had given Iggy to us, claiming that it would probably bite us and hated (her unruly) children. Because of this claim, I wouldn't even come near it; we couldn't give him what he needed, and vice versa. At the pet store, the iguana climbed up on the clerk's shoulder like it was the most natural thing in the world to him, and we felt good about the decision.

As we turned to leave, a lady and her young children were bringing in two kittens that their cat had given birth to, and they could no longer keep. Being a staunch cat lover, I walked right up to admire the tiny cats. The less feisty one was thrust at me, and he promptly curled up and fell asleep in my two cupped hands.

He never left.

The tiny kitten that could fit into my two preteen hands grew up to be a 24-pound "Kittyzilla" (as my best friend referred to him) that required two adult arms to haul around. He was big enough to reach his paws to the countertops, and when I accidentally tripped over him, he would be less fazed than I. He had a mega-purr and his idea of Heaven was laying in my arms and kneading my hair with his paws. He sat on our dinner tables and ate (or stole) food off our plates. He followed when I ran through the house as a kid with shoelaces tied to a mousey for him to chase. He laid in bed with me when I was an emotional teenager, crying and pissed off at the world. He traveled with me several times around the country after college. He greeted me every day when I came home from work, and was ready for lap time whenever I sat on the couch. We had a connection that most people could not understand.

Shadow was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in June 2011. He was only slated to live six months, nine months optimistically. I was absolutely distraught at the idea that I would have to live in a world without him. I knew we would do whatever we could to extend his life as long and as comfortably as possible, but that no matter what, our time would draw to an end. Somehow Shadow understood something that day, because (and this is 100% true) when we got home that night and he settled on his couch, I looked over at him to find a single tear caught in his eye.

Shadow lived nine months from his diagnosis date. He was down to 10.9 pounds by the time he died, and I could feel most of his bones through his skin. He was a far cry from the hulking cat that I knew as invincible.

We had to euthanize Shadow on Tuesday. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. We wrapped him in his blankie and placed my statue of St. Francis of Assisi next to him and the vet gave him the shot. I told him that he was the best friend I ever had and that he was the greatest and most pure love of my life. I held him in my arms as the sleep took him and he eventually stopped breathing.

We said goodbye the same way we said hello.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

RIP Shadow 5/15/98-3/13/12




I will post a lengthier and more fitting tribute later, but not at this time.