There are truly no words in the English language (or all of the other languages combined) that could explain what this cat means to me. I have never had a friend so true, a love so consistent, or company as comforting. She loves me without expecting anything in return, the mere sight of me enough to send her into a passionate fit of purring and rubbing. She puts my children to bed every night, curling up on their feet to listen as I read them Harry Potter and then staying after I leave until they are sound asleep. She is my personal alarm clock, whether I like it or not, as she wakes me early each morning by rubbing her nose on my face and purring in my ear, using her paws to unearth me from the covers if I try to hide. She snuggles the three of us before school starts, walking from chest to chest and rubbing her faces on ours. She is the very essence of love.
She is warm and soft and solid, light and sweet. To call her a pet would be gravely understating her place in my life--she is more than my best friend. To even call her my baby may be in error--I love her that intensely but appreciate her in a different way, a way that marvels at all she will give without expecting in return. She is my equal or maybe even my superior in this family, a place earned through her selflessness.
At the sight of her in distress, Big Kid gasped and burst into tears. I assured him everything was okay although in my heart I knew it wasn't. He believed me, though, and I envied that hope and trust. I couldn't wait 10 more minutes for the bus and asked them to wait alone, the fear I felt in doing so completely overshadowed by my fear for the small, gasping bundle in my arms.
At the vet they took her from me and promised to call. I was supposed to work at the yoga studio from 11-2 so I called the vet back and asked, if they were me, would they come to visit her before work? Praying for them to tell me that was unnecessary, that I could pick her up at 2, that she was looking great.
They said yes, if they were me, they would.
The uncomfortable and sympathetic front desk girl led me back to her and explained that I couldn't hold her because she had to stay in the oxygen tank.
There was my heart, in a tiny glass box, eyes unfocused, mouth agape. Unsure if she could hear me, I called to her and she didn't react. My heart plummeted. I called again, more frantic this time, and she turned her head, saw me and took a few shaky steps to press her face against the front of the box. I pressed my face back into hers, both of us divided by the cool glass, so close but never further away than in that instant. She laid down and looked at me, still gasping for each breath and I sunk to my knees and sobbed, keeping my face as close to her as possible, running my hands along the glass where she lay, murmuring about how I loved her and how she was my best friend and what a great life we've had and how it couldn't end like this, as random people in scrubs gingerly stepped around us. Telling her to not be scared, that she's a good girl, that all would be okay, we would be okay, that I need her--I really do need her. We need her.
I sat there, forehead to glass, fingers curled around the bottom lip of the tank, "Hey There Delilah" (a former favorite I never want to hear again) playing softly in the background, begging my closest friend to please stay here on earth until the vet finally brought me a tissue, helped me to my feet and led me into a small surgical suite (as his other less heartbroken customers waited) and explained her condition, went over some of the more mysterious points and offered a small beam of hope if we wait for the end of the day. He cushioned this by reminding me of her age, and that we don't want her to be in pain.
I didn't even make it to the car before slumping against a bank of mailboxes and crying my heart out.
And as I was sitting here typing out all of the above, trying to hold onto a hope I never had and every beat of my heart reminding me of her ragged breaths, the vet called and told me she was gone. After a flurry of phone calls, I sank to my knees and sobbed until I dry heaved and then lay there in abject misery trying to decide how to tell the kids; how to tell Big Kid that his best friend, one of his only friends, is gone forever.
Due to bad genetics, bad luck, and careless friends, I have dealt with death far more than the average person my age and yet nothing has hurt like this. Logically I know that she was a cat, but in my heart I feel like that makes our relationship even more amazing--that this strange little creature from an entirely different species and I loved each other like every breath depended on it for the last 14 years and now that is no more. She was the last one left to have lived in all of our houses, nuzzled all of our babies, sat on all of our couches, known our past pets, and been nearby for a lifetime full of laughter, crying, fighting, surviving and now she is gone forever.
I'm beyond crying now, my lungs too tired to draw in breaths deep enough for a sob, but my eyes just leak continuously--fat, bold tears racing each other to land on my chest, my neck and the front of my soggy shirt. I still smell a bit of her sickness, and although I know it's disgusting and irrational, I am reluctant to wash it away.
The house already feels 100x emptier, as does the place in my chest where my heart should be.
How will I do life without her.