This evening our vet put our TobyJoy to sleep, after her seizures had escalated to the point where further control with medication seemed unlikely. Her seizures started again a few days ago–small ones at first, then morphing into body-wracking shakes that contorted her small frame backwards and forwards.
Last night when Toby’s seizures began to escalate I texted John, unsure of whether it was appropriate to ask for his support. We exchanged a few messages as Toby writhed in my arms, and as her legs became paralyzed. I was so confused. I didn’t know whether to lean on John–as I had so many times before–or whether this was my own burden to carry. All I knew was that I was hurting and I couldn’t figure out who else to call on. For the past two decades when I’ve been weak, John has stepped in to “fix” the problem, to offer solace, to help me to decide what to do.
As I wavered with indecision, Toby was curled in a ball on my chest–so much like my babies did when they were little. Feeling her weight, wrapping my hands securely around her body, I settled into an armchair and sang some songs. I stroked her fur and told her how much I loved her. I rocked back and forth. I was unsure of what else to do but just be there with her. I alternately prayed she would die and then prayed that she would live. I cried. I hoped. I wondered. And eventually…the morning came. When I needed help getting her into her crate for transport to the animal hospital, I chose to call on my friends rather than John.
Within a few hours John joined me at the vet to ascertain the extent of Toby’s ailment and we decided to put her to sleep to ease her pain. I sat, and John stood uncomfortably nearby as Toby’s doctor explained the procedure and our options. I signed the paperwork. Because Toby-cat was so ill, we got no last visit or chance to say good-bye.
When we settled the bill in the foyer (tears sliding down my cheeks) and reviewed the charges with the cashier, I pointed out some details to John and called him “sweetie.” It was pure instinct to address him that manner (as I always had). The endearment spoken as we stood side by side, working through something hard together. I instantly regretted my slip, not knowing if he had even noticed it, but at the same time feeling an even greater loss than a moment before when all I was mourning was our sweet kitten.
We then walked out to our separate cars, me carrying Toby’s crate and collar.
John’s hands were empty.