Saying Hello and Goodbye to a Family Pet
My Maddie, I am never going to be ready to say goodbye to her. She was my family before I was married and before I had children. The first moment I saw her she was a 12-week old kitten hanging upside down from a pink shoelace in a cage at the humane society. Instantly, I knew she was meant for me with her ferocious personality and obnoxious meow. I was only 22-years-old and getting ready to move to the other side of the country to attend graduate school where I knew no one. For the next thirteen years, she slept by my side or as cats do, on my head.
Three months ago Maddie decided she was going to stand up to our dog wanting to be with us at every moment. She stopped eating and was clearly not well. At thirteen years old we decided it was best to not put her through extensive tests. Her entire life she had fought various illnesses, and we all agreed to just give her as much love as we could until she wasn’t with us any longer.
I have two children, one two-year-old and one seven-year-old. I tried to prepare our oldest the best I could. When my oldest came home from the hospital, Maddie would sit with us observing the newest member of the family. Maddie had been our family pet for her entire life.
The last week of her life I cried every day wondering if we were making the right choice. We never put any of my animals to sleep growing up, so this was a new experience for me and one I wasn’t sure I could handle. She was sick, miserable, and not the Maddie we all loved.
The day of her appointment I got out of bed and looked down at the end of the hallway. There she was looking right back at me. I knew she was saying “It’s ok. I’m ready to go”. She had never done that before. My girls and I brushed her, petted her, cuddled her and gave her lots of tuna that last day. We took videos and pictures of her with each of the girls to help them remember her.
The Day Arrived
That afternoon my husband came home from work early and took the girls on a daddy-daughter date. He had offered to take Maddie in, but I knew I had to do it. I held it together the entire way there, checked in and felt proud of not being an emotional basketcase. Then, I walked into a bereavement room I didn’t know my veterinarian had. The lights were turned down low and pictures of animals that had passed covered the walls. I totally lost it at that moment. Bright red cheeks and snot running down my face.
As she left this world Maddie, my ferocious feline, snuggled into me as close as she could and I knew she felt loved.