We’ll always be good company.

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It hit me one night that Shadow wasn’t doing well when a friend asked me how my cats were doing.  I suddenly burst into tears and the realisation sunk in that my oldest cat — whom I’d had for 9 and a half years — was ill and I had to do something.

I’d recently become unemployed and couldn’t afford to take her to a vet; without my asking, two of the best people I know offered to help me out so I could take her in to see what was wrong with her.  I am immeasurably grateful for that and for them.  So I booked the appointment for a Wednesday afternoon and prepared myself for the worst in the few days leading up to it (ie: crying, lots of crying).

Needless to say, it wasn’t good. Shadow’s health had deteriorated drastically over the last few weeks of her life and I had the option of putting her through an intravenous treatment plan that meant leaving her at the vet overnight and wasn’t guaranteed to help her.  It also meant the possibility of her not surviving such an invasive program and, at her age, I didn’t want to put her through that.

“What are my other options?” I asked the vet. I was crying, but that’s to be expected and he understood.  I knew what the answer was going to be anyway.

“Well, your other option is to let her go.” There it was. It was the worst case scenario I’d been dreading come to life.

I nodded my head and swept Shadow into my arms, hugging, petting and kissing her as much as I could because it was going to be the last time. I can’t tell you how devastating it is to hear how sick your pet is and that the best option, for them, is to say goodbye to them. It’s the right thing and the hardest thing at the same time and there was no way I was going to do anything to keep her around if the treatment was going to be vigorous and not guaranteed to make her better. It was her time to go, and I’m still trying to convince myself I did the right thing.

After I agreed to do this (I can’t bring myself to say ‘put her down’ — this one doesn’t count), I signed the papers and the vet took her away to sedate her before bringing her back to me in a little bed, wrapped up in a blanket, still looking as beautiful and as fierce as ever.  He told me I could stay here as long as I wanted, and then gave us our alone time before the final injection.

I can’t write this without crying. It’s been 6 weeks and thinking back to this day is still upsetting. I told her how much I loved her. I told her I was going to miss her so goddamn much. I told her she was going to be okay. I did this until it was over. It was the most harrowing day of my life, but I would not trade any of it for the years of joy Shadow brought me. I truly hope she knows how much she was loved.

A week later I picked up the custom made slate with her pawprints on it that I had had done.  Sometimes when I’m in bed at night, and my other one, Beatrice, is snuggled next to me, I swear to God I can hear the patter of other little pawprints wandering around. I like to think that it’s Shadow.

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Author: Jocelyn Aspa

early 30-something. journalist. sports fan. puns. cats. mental health advocate. not taking myself seriously (most of the time)

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