A girl and her cat

It seems like the last six months of this space have housed more sad or lamenting posts than that of perky "life at home" moments. Perhaps we've experienced a run of bad luck or string of trying circumstances and a crest of good is just around the corner. Maybe it's my perspective and can be partially attributed to the difficulties in balancing thyroid hormones.

Whatever the case may be, as part of my Lenten prayers I am trying to shift and take an active step toward seeing the beauty and the good throughout my day. It is so important to remember that the wonderful moments, no matter how small, always trump the bad. For every trial we go through as individuals, as a couple and as a family, we emerge on the other side stronger and more connected than we were before.

Tonight we faced another one of those trials as we said goodbye to our cat, Regan. I got him as a kitten, half way through my junior year of college and he was the leading man in my life for so very long. He slept with me on those lonely single nights and snuggled with me when I cried through each heartache. He was always a bit of a jerk, as the best cats are, peeing on my remaining luggage when I went out of town for the weekend or trying to steal oreos during a study break snack. And like most males who are jerks, he was gorgeous...

But he was also miraculously incredibly lovable. He fell in love with Curt and throughout our marriage has somehow become more his cat than mine. As much as Regan is a grumpy old man, he never so much as flinched when Addie would grab his face or pull out some of his fur. In that respect, he was such a very good boy. 

The past few years he began to go downhill health-wise and the past six months or so have been extremely difficult to watch and deal with. Our house has become somewhat of a maxi pad, as my husband says, due to the perimeter of geriatric pads lining our living room. These of course were strategically placed in an effort to prevent any more of our carpet from becoming damaged as a result of the growing lack of interest Regan had in his litter box. (Hard wood is in our immediate future.)

My once 20 + lb. cat who made grown men flinch when they saw his panther-like size, had shrunk down to less than 8 lbs. We made the decision last week that it was time to let him go and while it was incredibly sad to say that final goodbye, there is definitely a feeling of relief there as well. It's so hard to watch a beloved pet deteriorate from spunky, loving and quick to basically just being a presence. Regan hadn't been himself for a long time and it gives me comfort to know that he won't have to suffer anymore.

I will miss the sound of his purr and the weight of his body on my feet at night during the winter. I have already missed his shenanegans, seeing how he would try to be stealthy in that giant body and fail miserably. And I will always miss getting to see my girls grow up with a big ol' cat, dragging him around the house, trying to put him in doll clothes.

Such is the nature of a family pet. They don't outlive you or your littles and so they give you an opportunity to teach them about love and death, hopefully in a way that is gentle and unafraid. It has eased my hurt to hear Addie say, "Regan is sick. The vet is coming and then Regan will be in our hearts." I held in the tears and told her that she is right; that it is OK to be sad when we say goodbye and we will always be able to look at pictures and tell stories whenever we miss him.

Her innocence in saying goodbye to the only pet she has ever known somehow gives me a sense of peace. Of course she didn't understand what was really happening, but I love that she is at an age when a simple explanation for something can just be enough. He lives in our hearts. Oh. OK.

When I look back on this day, I think her reaction to the situation is what I would like to remember most. Not the sadness in carrying him out of the house for the last time or how sick he looked, but how an almost three-year-old lept over to her cat, kissed him on the top of his head and said, "I love you, Regan. Goodbye!" Like she'll just see him later on... in her heart. And she will. I know I already do.

1 comment:

Us said...

I'm sorry you lost your sweet (and giant) cat. He was very much family to you. I do love Addie's response. And that picture of Regan sleep with you two is so special.