Komm, süßer Tod

Matt Morgan
May 1, 2014

 

A journey of emotion regarding the passing of someone close.
 
As a fair warning this week will be an exploration of the thoughts and sentiments around death. They are meant to let you know that you are not alone in grieving at any point in your life. If it still makes you uncomfortable, you may want to skip this entry over. Those reactions aside, it is necessary to explore this part of life so we can reflect on our own and how we've lived it for ourselves and with others. Having a road map such as the Kübler-Ross Model (The Five Stages of Grief) can help immensely.
 
After 17 years my cat, Bagheera, is dying. I've had a good, long run with him as he has been there through moves, triumphs, shame, and is one of the last living reminders of my own father who also passed away from cancer. That said, when I realized his end is going to be soon my eyes soon flooded with tears. All those years of memories are carried in his diminishing frame and I keep reliving them with every stroke of his fur or dab of water on his tongue.
 
= = = = = = = = = =
 
DEPRESSION
 
While his unkempt black hair is hardly reflective, it has acted as a mirror back into my own life, decisions, and direction. Perhaps part of the sadness is that I see so many of my own weaknesses first in his frail form. One clump of dark fuzz reminds me of the opportunities I have missed. Another, the shame of some of the decisions I've made in life. His matted tail reminds me of the fine line I walk as a small business owner between success and failure. It scares ME, and yet HE is the one who is on the edge of life!
 
"You can't go, if you do then who will help me carry these reminders?!"
 
BARGAINING
 
It's not fair that he is in this state. Yes, he's old and he's lived as best a life as I can afford. But...but...I should have done more. For him. For myself. If I had just worked a bit harder I could have afforded a test sooner to detect what was wrong, right? Maybe if I give him some milk it will hydrate and give him some nutrients? Yeah, just one little thing to change here and he'll be perky just a bit longer. How do I buy him time?
 
How? For that matter, what of my own? I only have so much and can never know when it runs out. This precious little life in my lap may be a dying flame, but it is a beacon whose light shines on what has been wasted. The moments of the past that could have been different.
 
"What have I done with it all, Bagheera? Have I been meaningful? Have I given enough?"
 
ANGER
 
Fine. Yeah I get it. Life's short, make the best of it. Nature is cruel and I should have seen this coming. The vets can only offer choices. They mean well, but...no. It's hardly their fault and for that matter how can I be angry at myself? I didn't cause this. Yet why do I still feel frustrated? What a jerk I am to selfishly believe he can carry MY emotions and reminders of my past. Grrrr! Is this the point? What even matters right now. Everything I have worked so hard to acquire is worthless. My store, my car, and I've even sacrificed time with friends and family to tend to my dying cat - who I knew was going to be going soon anyway!
 
"You know, I've yelled at you for peeing on my stuff and jumping on my desk when I was typing things like this. But...you know what, bud? I can't yell right now even though I want to do that. That's what frustrates me so much."
 
DENIAL
 
He's hanging in there, even after a few days of hardly any eating or drinking. I've gone through all this stress and coping just to see him stick it out. Where's the message? No, it's not about death. There's something else here. Some kind of ultimate psych-out? A karmic investment for my future? God and I having another chat as we often do? This isn't about death at all. It's about me, isn't it? Well, I can handle that. You leave Bagheera alone, life, and you come to terms with me. What's going on here? Give it to me straight.
 
"I'm sorry, old man. You got caught up in something that's not even about you. And, here I am visibly and audibly stressing in front of you as you're in your own circumstances. You get some rest, dad's got some work to do and he'll tell you about it when you wake up from this nap. It...it is just a nap, after all. You'll be up for more water soon. I know you."
 
ACCEPTANCE
 
It may not be a nap. Not this time. There's nothing I can do if it's not. Heh, how silly was I all through this time? I had a darn-good SEVENTEEN years with this cat. He knows it too! All this fret, worry, and throwing my life under the bus for his that is coming to a natural end (all things I should be extremely grateful for!) just resolves into "que sera sera." Yeah, I've failed and I'm grateful I can learn from those times. I've also triumphed and brought home results of that to share with my cat. So in the end this is life: doing the best we can with what we have and the people with which we share it realizing that it will end all the same yet enjoying every moment we can.
 
"I'm ready if you are, Bagheera. Take your time if you need to but I'm here with you and for as long as I'm around, you'll be with me too. Sleep well, buddy, we had a helluva run together."
 
= = = = = = = = = =
 
Such is the journey we take when we face the loss of someone precious to us. A relative, classmate, or in this case a pet. But it's not a journey you must take alone. This area is filled with many talented people, parishes, and professionals who can help you grieve and hopefully lead you to a fulfilling acceptance of your own. To that end, as the final pages in Bagheera's book are being written even as I write this blog, I would like to thank you for coming with me on this journey as I will with you if you'd let me. I'd also like to thank the professionals at NOAH Pet Clinic for their professional care. Lastly, when the time comes, I'll be thanking the staff at Groff Funeral Home Pet Loss Services for their aid in closing the back cover and giving me a lasting reminder of one of my best friends.
 
Here's a song I'll offer in dedication to anyone you have lost in your lives:
You're gonna carry that weight...
 
P.S. - After all is said and done and one book finishes, I intend to begin a new story with the Humane Society of Erie County as is often featured in Tom Cats and Dogs right here. Please support them as well when you can as well as other shelters like Back to the Wild especially when it comes to their latest and very crucial need.

Comments

G_Richardson

Sorry to hear what you are going through and my thoughts go out to you in your time of grief. Enjoy your time together and remember the old adage "Without darkness we would never know the joy of sunshine"

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Your words are very true and are a great reminder to pull out of the dire immediacy (as dire as it is) and look at the bigger picture. It's tough to do when you just want to pout and stomp, but it's also necessary. Thank you for the comment and for reading, especially an emotionally-charged blog entry like this. It does much to lift my spirits.

JMOP

I'm in tears. I was with my best friend from the age of 9-23 years old. I loved my cat, my best friend.

I'm sorry. My heart goes fully out to you.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Thank you for your comment. It's tough but despite the somber tone I really hope that this post and its sentiment can help others who have been (or are currently going) through similar circumstances. Tears are usually never fun to shed, but much like rain, can bring renewal and refreshment back into life.

Ultimately the point of "LFG" is that there are times in life (as simulated in video games) where there is a challenge too great for someone to take on alone. So they must rally a diverse party of others in order to overcome the ordeal by using each others' skills and experiences. This is certainly one of those times.

Stop It

Losing a pet does hurt a lot. Your kitter has lived 17 years and that's a long life for them. It also tends one to make the inevitable pill harder to swallow.

I think that animals are much easier to live with than humans. I always have a pet kitter or dog as companions and sometimes both at once, although now it's just a lil chi dog.

If Bagheera becomes to ill, consider euthanasia. That's a very hard thing to do but I've seen people trying to keep them alive and they suffer. Trust me.

All of my past five pets, be they feline or canine, were from the shelter, humane society or, just strays. Except for this one. My son had too much on his plate to keep him. A saved animal is always a gracious and happy animal to be with you. Hands down, straight up, they are so very gracious that you took them from where they were before.

This week's column brought back many memories and a few tears, brother. Let us know who your next best bud will be when you save him or her.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I will do so, maybe I can go out with Mr. Jackson on his next visit to be a part of it and showcase the procedure on how someone can adopt an animal themselves. It's a tough choice because so many cats need adoption and you can't save them all...

But as for euthanasia, it's also very hard choice and one I've heavily considered. As logical as I want to be in reading articles on "when it's time" there is an almost overwhelming emotional component to it that gets in the way. What's worse is my own thoughts of "I am being selfish by not taking him in?" compared to "Well, he can still walk a bit and is trying to be social despite his weakened state so would it be too soon?"

Even after reaching the acceptance portion of this process I still have my fits.

Thank you for your supportive comment and I am happy I was able to rekindle some memories for you, even if they caused your eyes to sweat. Real men don't cry, after all. Heh just kidding.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

UPDATE:

The decision to put Bagheera to sleep today around 5:30 was tough. However, there was no more reasonable comfort nor quality of life we could offer him. The choice caused tears but not necessarily because it was sad that my buddy was going away, but because of the wonderful memories he invoked that spanned almost two decades of time together.

It was peaceful and I stayed through the process. While misty-eyed I can still write with clarity here and offer any of you camaraderie when it comes to making a decision like this. But as was indicated, when one book ends another begins. After some time has passed I'll go out and give a kitty a new home. Just as we went on an adventure of death here, I'll bring you along the process of starting a brand new adventure!

Gotta Knock a Little Harder - The Seatbelts
http://youtu.be/gGi8LvE9Afk

Happiness is just a word to me
And it might have meant a thing or two
If I'd had known the difference

Emptiness, a lonely parody
And my life, another smokin' gun
A sign of my indifference

Always keepin' safe inside
Where no one ever had a chance
To penetrate or break in

Let me tell you some have tried
But I would slam the door so tight
That they could never get in

Kept my cool under a lock and key
And I never shed a tear
Another sign of my condition

Fear of love or bitter vanity
That kept me on the run
The main events at my confession

I kept a chain upon my door
That would shake the shame of Cain
Into a blind submission

The burning ghost without a name
Was still calling all the same
But I just wouldn't listen

The longer I'd stall
The further I'd crawl
The further I'd crawl
the harder I'd fall
I was crawlin' into the fire

The more that I saw
The further I'd fall
The further I'd fall
the lower I'd crawl
I kept fallin' into the fire
Into the fire
Into the fire

Suddenly it occurred to me
The reason for the run and hide
Had totaled my existence

Everything left on the other side
Could never be much worse than this
But could I go the distance?

I faced the door and all my shame
Tearin' off each piece of chain
Until they all were broken

But no matter how I tried
The other side was locked up so tight
The door it wouldn't open

Gave it all that I got
And started to knock
Shouted for someone
To open the lock
I just gotta get through the door

And the more that I knocked
The hotter I got
The hotter I got
the harder I'd knock
I just gotta break through the door

Gotta knock a little harder
Gotta knock a little harder
Gotta knock a little harder
Break through the door