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Losing a companion

Monday, January 16, 2017

This was a very hard week. There was the usual aggravation, plus a little more. But then, we had to put one of our cats to sleep. She had developed an aggressive jaw tumor that would have required a feeding tube and the removal of her jaw and even then, we wouldn't have been able to be sure that the cancer didn't spread to other places. That is no way to live so we did what we had to do. Hardest thing ever.

Here's who we lost. Ginny came into our lives about 11 years ago. She and her litter mate, Hermione, we two rescued kittens up for adoption. We were specifically looking for a pair, having lost our previous two cats, Lena and Tooley, within months of each other. Until that time, our son had never known a day without cats - Tooley patiently teaching him to walk and Lena as a nursemaid who alerted us whenever something was wrong. We knew we needed pets in our lives and started the long process of adopting the pair.

It was a long process, we had to have background checks and references. We had to agree that if there was ever a problem, we would return them to the organization doing the adoption, rather than taking them to a shelter where they might be put down. Most of all, the cats had to meet us. They were especially concerned because we had a 9 year old boy. We were a little surprised by our concern. By this time, they already knew that we have been cat parents since long before he was born. What they didn't know is that our son's tribal name, Chingwe, translates to Wildcat. He has always had an affinity with any cat that crosses his path. Seriously, it's kind of annoying to walk down the street and have strange cats come up to be petted. When we went for our supervised visit, the two kittens were in a room and we went in and sat on the floor. One came out pretty quickly and visited with all of us; she was the one he named Hermione. The other would only come out for our son. That was Ginny.

He was hers and she was his from that point on. Ginny slept with him, sat with him, guarded his room. Her favorite thing was chasing lights whether laser pointers or reflected but only when he was on the other end. It wasn't nearly as fun when we held the pointer, apparently. When he was away at college, she would lie in the sun and come down as soon as she heard the exercise video end. Then, and only then, would she allow us to give her a thorough petting. It was clear that she loved us but her heart belonged to our son.

The tumor came on very quickly and really caught us unprepared. Our son is in college in Illinois so we had to figure out pretty quickly how to have him involved. When we made the decision, we made it after telling him why we thought it was necessary. I was holding her at the hospital when we FaceTimed him into the room so he could say goodbye. Once that was done, we hung up and the doctor came in to give her the injection. She went to sleep in my arms.

I can't imagine my life without pets. I can't imagine my son's life without pets. We learn to love and care and take care of others through the constant companionship of our four-footed friends. We also learn about letting go. This was one of the hardest things I've ever done but I wouldn't trade it.

RIP sweet Ginny! We loved you and will miss you!

Here is Ginny, before the doctor came in for the last time. There is all the sweetness in the world in that face:
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