And so the sun went down today with the temperature gauge on the car reading Minus 1, exactly how Mr M and I are feeling. Last night was just awful and though I’d planned for our own vet to visit Mia today, things didn’t go according to plan. She had a terrible night and I was up watching her deteriorate as it just became so clear that she couldn’t cope on her own and it wasn’t fair to make her wait, even though I knew car journeys make her stressed and this was that last thing we wanted. For nearly 15 years of car journeys she has blasphemed at every passing street light, mostly as car trips meant either moving to a new house or visiting a man who put a thermometer up her bum but this was a very quiet 5am drive through the streets of Manchester, with only her shallow breaths and my tears to break the silence.
Even though, when you’ve made this final decision for your pet you know it’s for the best, it doesn’t make it any easier when it happens. I’ve never had to make it before. As she lay wrapped in my arms, trusting me to look after to her as I always had done, I felt like I was betraying her, but looking after her in the best possible way, all at the same time. Mr M was wonderful, supportive and upset at the same time – when I first met him he announced “I don’t like cats”, more fool him, he hadn’t met Mia, who won him over with chats, strawberry yoghurt stealing and regular exposure of a soft undercarriage. Although I have heard bad things about Pet Medics, there was no choice but to go, and they were both professional and kind. She gazed at me and I held her as they gently shaved her leg, it was almost surreal. I wish I’d have known it would be so fast, the vet gave her the anaesthetic and within seconds my girl was gone. But she was peaceful, instead of the gasping rasping breaths there was silence and I sat and held her on my front as her chest slowly ceased to move. Something in her flew away and something from me joined her.
There’s an option then, of what to do, and I can’t tell you how beyond happy, a strange word to use today, that I am we opted for the path we did. Some people bury their pets, but somehow I didn’t want that, in case I ever had to leave her behind in the ever moving property world I live. The vet said that they could keep her and organise a cremation and then we could come and get her ashes, but I didn’t really trust that corporate world. Also I didn’t want to let her out of my sight. Not just yet. I’d been on line and seen a place in Cheshire, and you know sometimes you just get a feeling, a subconscious nudge, well, I’d had one of those when I read about Sleepy Meadow. Wrapped in a blanket Mia came home with us, her beautiful face looking so at rest and pretty, but I guess I’m biased. Heading home at 6.30am, I posted a tweet saying my heart was broken, the replies and texts and love we’ve been sent today has been overwhelming, you great soft lot x
It was perfect for my girl to spend time where she had been happiest, as we managed a couple of hours sleep with her in her usual spot at the end of the bed for the last time. Then as we got ready, I lay her up in my office near my chair on her favourite pillow by the radiator. I’d been worried about the practicalities, but my girl was curled up in her towel, looking to be in a heavenly sleep. I could take my time to say goodbye and stroke her soft fur, running my finger along that line from her eyebrow to her cheek which had always made her nose twitch forward and whiskers quiver. This time for me was so precious, if you lose your cat, don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t the ‘right’ thing to do, it was immensely comforting for me, to follow some of our old routines for this short but very precious time.
And so, via a drive past and nod to the Red Lion Pub, where a skinny little stray had chosen me all those years ago, to Sleepy Meadow with my girl, now was known by the Bernard the Vet as ‘one of our heavier clients’ – the cheek! We chatted to each other and I to Mia as we drove down the motorway and the sun came out, low golden bathing light right onto us which felt a bit magical really. When we arrived it was a bit of a shock, a scruffy portacabin in the middle of nowhere, not even a proper building and the interior design left Mr M looking at me warily in case I fainted. I can’t tell you though, how filled with love it was, cards everywhere from people whose pets they have looked after and photos sent to Susan the owner, but somehow the chaos was very real and not contrived or business like or fake. She was so kooky, but sincere and caring, an animal lover who set up the business after a bad experience when her own dog had died ten years ago. Our experience there, the care and respect she showed to Mia, her empathy and understanding made what could have been a terrible experience a very personal one, where every consideration was given to our feelings. I can’t praise them enough. I said my goodbye to my girl, squeezed her paddle of paws, tickled her ear and kissed her for the last time.
We left for an hour to allow the cremation to take place, laying her down first as I didn’t want anyone else to pick her up, she hadn’t liked it in life so nothing was going to change now. There is a lovely local country pub close by where a stiff Henricks was imbibed and we resolved to go there each year on Jan 3rd for a drink and some seafood, in honour of the Prawn Whore, as Mia was affectionately nicknamed by a special friend due to her willingness to be anyone’s lover in return for a King or a Tiger.
When we got back to Sleepy Meadow, Susan was ready with my Mia’s ashes, she’d put such care into the little casket and her name on it, and a rose, it was very sweet and very touching. I felt so very sad and empty but so relieved that we’d made our choice in this simple and homely place. Thank you, Susan.
RIP My Moregeous Girl, I will always love you and always think of you and you will always be in my heart, my home and my head xx
Death ends a life, not a relationship. — Mitch Albom
That’s what makes it so hard though, isn’t it, because although the relationship still feels alive, the other half isn’t around to share it….
May no longer be physically incarnate, but always around…
But you’re right. It’s tough when they’re no longer there to share stuff with. xo
Beautifully written and very moving. Well done and my thoughts as ever. jx
You have been a really lovely support through this John, thanks for your always thoughtful words x
So sad and heart wrenching to hear what you’ve been through – I’ve been following her progress via your updates and you know you’ve done by far what was the best for her. We’ve experienced it once and whilst this situation is an always unavoidable situation with pets, it doesn’t get any easier. It sounds like you had an incredible 15yrs with her – you’ve made sure her last few days were as painless and loving as possible, thank you for sharing something so personal with us.
Just to say I am sat here reading your blog about Mia, I have many fond memories of Mia over the years, it made me cry to read your words and my sympathy is with you.
Take care dear friend V
I love that my friends all have such great memories of her, makes me feel I’m not mad thinking of her as such a great personality. Thanks Vic xx
Its the minus one bit that got me. Beautifully written and i’ll never forget the little prawn whore. Like the idea of her watching from her cloud cushion x
That name will always make me smile, thanks for giving her such an apt moniker. I’ll have to get those filmed shots of her loudly chewing on Tigers from you x
Amazing post Sian, really beautiful. She sounds like a lovely girl xxx
She bloody is / was / will always be, Sally. I think my girl had investigated every piece of Ikea furniture ever designed as well, you know 🙂 x
Sad news for me last night, Mum called to say our family cat Boddington is terminally ill, and at 17 yrs old is really struggling. Mum called my sisters and I to discuss what’s best and today he’s being put to sleep, understandably Mum’s devastated. Named by myself on a drunken walk with a can in my hand, he was part of the family, always found next to a readily available heat source. He’ll be deeply missed and the home will feel more like a house.
I’m grateful though that he hasn’t been through the long suffering you and Mia had to go through. It’s a small consolation but I still think of what you went through every time I’m with our two new boys and realising how temporary life can be.
Ah, I’m so sorry Sanjay, I know exactly how you are feeling, as you know. Funny that we both named our cats whilst slightly the worse for wear after nights out, clearly how all the best pussy cats are named. It’s a horrible time. I still haven’t stretched my legs out to the bottom corner of our bed as it’s such habit to leave the space for her to lounge in the night. Lots of love for your mum today and over the next week is the order of the day, sending mine xxx
Read of your dear Mia going “Over the Rainbow Bridge.” She is/was a blessed kitty to have you and you she. Tears streamed down my face as I was reading your tribute to her. You have my deepest sympathy! I understand as my beloved rescue Manx passed away this past Fall of cancer, he was 14. I too held him close and kissed his head and stroked his fur gently, etc. after he was departed from this earth. I know I (we) shall see our beloved pet/companions in Heaven. Like you, mine is “resting” where I can visit him. Thank you for sharing. P.S. I posted a reply on Pats blog,”Joy in Recovery”.)
So many of us have had similar experiences and it’s lovely to get such comments and support from both friends and from strangers too. Rainbow Bridge is a lovely idea and I like to think of her waiting for me there, eating prawns and loudly demanding fresh water. Thank you Sue x
I am so sorry.. I am going through the same thing, my baby girl (Haley) 10 years old, was diagnosed with breast cancer in late Oct. early Nov. 2010. She is still here, but I fear the time is getting close, I don’t know if I can deal. I find it shameful that we can get humans into remission, however they can not do the same for our loving animal companions. Doctors will do all they can to save a human but when it comes to our loving pets, no pet health insurance or not rich, it is just deal with the symptoms until those meds don’t work anymore, and then put them to sleep. Sorry just needed to vent. I LOVE her so much!!!!! I would gladly sell a kidney or cut off one of my own limbs to save her.
My heart goes out to you, I know exactly how you are feeling. I still miss Mia every day. You will know when the time comes and it’s the hardest decision in the world. I will always wish my vet had been able to come to our house but can’t change that. My goodbye to her at Sleepy Meadow was the best decision I could have made, don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise if you want to take Haley with you when the time comes. I hope you will be ok x