I’m not sure if there’s been any real lesson learned today, not so far. In a little while I’m heading out to swim at the Y, so surely I’ll learn something along the way, or in the locker room. Hopefully today’s lesson won’t be that Chrysler Sebring convertibles are held together with Kleenex and spit.

Today mostly has been thinking about Letting Go.
Specifically, letting go of pets when it’s That Time.

There have been a few people online who have been going through this in the last week or so. First it was Tigey from The Mows. He was only 6 years old, and developed the same problem our old cat Dusty had. Then day before yesterday, Carmi had to face it with his cat. And today, Wil Wheaton is taking his beloved Felix to the vet for the last time.

We (online friends o’mine) have been talking all morning. Remembering our own furry friends. Feeling very sympathetic and empathetic about those who are going through it right now. My friends are recalling happy memories of their long-gone pets; right now all I seem to be able to fixate on is That Moment.

There are some truly funny stories about Dusty and Hank, and especially about Ataturk, the first pet I can truly remember. But I can’t get to those memories right now. All I can bring forth are those last weeks or months with them. How sick Dusty was for the last year; she was comfortable right up to the last day, but we knew what was coming. And that last day, I think she did, too. When we made the decision to let her go, knowing that anything else we did would be for us and not for her, that little furball took control. The vet was trying to prep her—gently—but she got Really Ticked Off. After a year of tolerating all the needles and x-rays and personal invasions, she had enough. She reared back and started hissing, and fought hard. She was not letting anyone stick her with another needle. And with an attitude of “Screw you, and kiss my furry gray ass,” she died. Just like that. One moment she was there, pissed off; the next she was gone.

It was a typical Dusty kind of thing; she lived on her own terms, and she died on her own terms.

And anyone who read this blog back then (May ’03) went through Hanks last weeks with me. How I cooked for him when people food was all he would eat, the confusion over what was wrong with him, his dignity at walking—when he had so much trouble doing just that—from the truck to the vet’s office, where he collapsed inside the door, never to walk again; you’ve read it before.

I keep thinking of how relaxed he looked when the vet gave him a sedative; how pinched his face had been and we hadn’t realized it until that sedative took effect and all the pain left him, leaving him suddenly comfortable as he stepped into La-La land. How he stopped breathing before she was finished giving him that last injection; how he went so quickly, and peacefully.

And I think about how much I miss them.
I think about how Max isn’t quite 4 years old yet.
And someday we may have to make that decision for him.

And I hate that part of being owned by a pet. I accept that it’s part of the responsibility of having pets, but I hate it. They just don’t get enough time in this world. They wrap us around their little paws and hearts, and they leave before us, and it sucks.

And yet we do it again.
We grieve, and then open ourselves up to a new furball.
We know, and yet we do it again.
We’re not replacing them…it just seems like we have to. We need to.

I want to get to those memories that leave me laughing my ample tush off. I know they’re there, but right now, all I can think of is the end.

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