This is a post I never wanted to write, but knew I needed to for closure.
Last week, we had to say goodbye to our furbaby, Countess Vesta, a cat who chose me as her momma 12 years ago. I’ll never forget the day she became mine. It was Spring of 2005 and I had just pulled into the driveway of a house our church used to rent for gatherings. I opened the door, and before I stepped out of the car, there she was. Mewing loudly, purring, dancing around my foot as I stepped on the ground.
She was little – suspected to be 1 or 2 years old. She had chubby cheeks that made her face look slightly smooshed in. Her belly was heavy with kittens (which we didn’t know at the time), making her legs look stumpy. “Who are you?!” I asked, as I stepped out, gave her a pat on the back, and started to walk to the door of the house. She followed me, dancing around my feet. I took a few moments to pet her before walking into the house and asking, “Where did this cat come from?!”
I was told she lived under the house and just kind of showed up one day. They were feeding her, but needed her to find a forever home. Within an hour, my mind was made up: this girl was coming back to college with me. Into a box she went and stayed the entire hour drive home.
I didn’t know then just how much she would mean to me. I didn’t know that she would be with me through many trials and tribulations, through moves to different homes. She was there through infertility treatments. I can’t even count how many times I held her and cried. She was there through my difficult pregnancy. She was there when we brought Zoey home from the hospital. She was there when I was sick. When Zoey was sick. When Glenn was sick. She was always there, purring, just asking for affection.
On May 2, 2017, I took her to the vet because she had been losing a lot of weight and was throwing up everything she consumed. She also had a solid mass on her jaw that I suspected was a tumor. Gone were the chubby days. Gone were the cheeks… the stumpy legs… she became skin and bones very rapidly. I was told that she likely had lymphoma, but the testing to confirm would be too much on her little body. I was told she had inflammatory bowel disease that we could try to treat, but that it was likely caused by the lymphoma, and that usually when cats get to this point, it’s too far advanced. She weighed in at just 4 lbs and needed to weigh at least 6. I was told that we could treat her symptoms, try to get her to gain weight, and hopefully make her comfortable and happy for a while longer. While she was 13-14 years old, she still could have lived longer, and could have been happy.
Unfortunately, she didn’t get better. Giving her medicine was torture for her (and for me). She was refusing it and even started spitting it out. She continued to throw up everything – including bile.
On May 8, 2017, I held her on the couch and noticed that she wasn’t purring. She was like a rag doll in my arms. She wasn’t very responsive. She looked up at me when I said her name and it was then that I knew… I knew she was dying. There were several moments that I thought she was already dead. Her breathing was that low… that slow… that undetectable. I fully expected to wake up the next morning to find she had passed in the night.
On May 9, 2017, she was still with us. I gave her medicine in some wet food in hopes it would be easier on her. She barely touched it. That afternoon, I took her to the vet and got the confirmation that she didn’t gain any weight in a week – she had actually lost more. With sympathetic eyes, the vet confirmed that there was nothing else he could do. The decision was made to give her eternal sleep.
It was 4:30 PM when the decision was made, and I knew I had an hour before Glenn and Zoey could arrive, so I put on some worship music by All Sons & Daughters and loved on my sweet girl for as long as I could. I told her how much I loved her… how much she changed my life… how she would no longer suffer and would be reunited with her old friend Winston (our roommate’s kitty in college who also sadly passed away recently). I held her, pet her, and gave her every ounce of love I could until it was time to say goodbye. I cried over her. I prayed for it to end quickly for her. I pet her until she took her last breath. She died extremely quickly – almost instantly. As Zoey wept over Vesta, it was one of the most difficult moments in my life.
Today, nearly one week later, I still miss her deeply. I miss how we’d open the front door and there she was. When she heard the garage doors open, she knew we were home and she’d greet us at the door every time. I miss saying “Vesta, move, baby!” as I nearly tripped over her. In fact, I tripped over a shadow last week thinking it was her. It’s funny now…
There are many moments lately where I expect her to walk across the room to me. To jump down from her box in the kitchen window, and come to me for cuddles. To come wrap herself around my neck like a scarf, where she felt safe. When I open a can, I expect her to come running to see if it’s for her. Heck, she knew the sound of the bowl coming down from the cabinet – she’d run to me if she heard that! I know the days will get easier, but right now, it’s still hard.
While I’m heartbroken over the loss of Vesta, and so sad that we couldn’t fix her, I am so grateful that she isn’t suffering. The one thing I promised her is that I wouldn’t let her suffer. As soon as she entered the realm of suffering, it was time to say goodbye. I am extremely grateful for her wonderful vet’s office who took such good care of us and of her during her final hour. They were so loving, so kind, and so helpful. They handled her with sensitivity and love, and for that, I am grateful.
Sweet Vesta, I miss you so. You were a good girl. Rest in peace, my love.