Today we are taking our leave from Blyger, a beloved family member
He’s sleeping on the bed in our guest room. He’s been doing that a lot recently. When he doesn’t go to the bathroom countless times. Or dip his nose in the water bowl because he can’t really see the water surface anymore. Blyger would turn nineteen in just two months. He won’t celebrate that birthday. We have an appointment with the vet for this afternoon at three pm, to let him go. Euthanasia. The hardest thing you can do: to say goodbye to someone you’ve spent so many years with. Adultin really sucks at times.
How do you say goodbye to a loved one?
Blyger was born in our house on May 2, 1999, and he’s spent his entire life here. Born to a not entirely purebred Persian and a Norwegian Forest father, he’s a big cat. Or was. Named after one of the seven dwarfs because he was the littlest one in his litter, the shy one, the one who’d always be the last to get some milk.
These days, he barely clocks three kilos, and when you pet him, you can feel every bone in his body, compliments of hyperthyroidism. He’s been in treatment for years, but while we’ve been able to manage the disease, it’s not gone away. And with his advanced age, he’s having trouble moving and cleaning himself. For an animal as obsessed with cleanliness as a cat, a tough thing. Three weeks ago, he suffered an eye injury and we were afraid “this is it” already then. But he refused to give in, fought and demonstrated his will to live.
Seems he got onto his ninth life. This is it. But how do you say goodbye? How do you make that decision? When is enough, enough? I was away for the weekend, on a business trip, and I could tell he didn’t approve. My absence worsened his overall well being. The fact that we’re going away for a week of Easter vacation is foreboding.
Sometimes he looks at you like…
I’ve tried hard these past days and weeks to get any sort of clue from him. With Haakon, my best friend who passed away six years ago, it was easier. His entire system just shut down and the decision was thus a lot easier. He didn’t eat for days, didn’t drink and all of a sudden, he lost control of his stomach, bladder, and bowel. Hard to watch, but it made the call to the veterinarian easier. With Blyger, who’s always been the quiet one, it’s so much more difficult. But every now and then, I seem to be getting a look from him to indicate a sort of “help me!” or “time to let go…” but I can’t be sure of course. He is a feline, after all, and me superimposing my emotions on him isn’t helpful.
To preside over life and death isn’t any easier. You’re never really ready for this sort of decision. I know it’s going to be the best for him. No more pain, no more suffering. On the other hand, there won’t be any more shrimps to enjoy off of our table, no more begging for a piece of fresh chicken in the kitchen, or to lick a few drops of milk out of a bowl of cereal. With death comes the end of life, irreversibly so.
How do you tell your child?
We sort of came to the decision, my husband and I, last night, after Blyger had a bad day. He barely ate, barely drank, and before they left the house this morning, we asked our son to say goodbye. We tried to explain that Blyger would be going away today, that the vet would give him something to help him fall asleep. For good. It was heartwrenching to see my son cry and fall into my arms. “I don’t want Blygis to leave…” No, neither do papa and I, but it’s for his best. We’ve always felt that honesty is the best course of action when it comes to kids, but we’re treading on loose ground. Then again, he would’ve noticed his absence upon returning from school tonight. He will see the empty carrier in my hand. We felt it would be better if he could say goodbye than to simply see Blyger (or Blygis as he calls him), gone.
It’s also a way to prepare him for other difficult things to come in the near future, as my mother in law is once again in the hospital, and we know that her days are numbered. In a strange way, saying goodbye to our old cat is a training exercise for him to steel him for the day he’ll have to say goodbye to his grandma.
Not the first, not the last time…
This will be the third time I’ve had to do this as an adult. It doesn’t get easier. I’ve been thinking what I can do to make Blyger’s final day in life easier, more “pleasurable”, and I quickly decided to not do anything. I don’t want to excite him needlessly, so I just let him be. Sleep, roam the house for a bit when he wants to, eat or drink. He came to me early this morning and sat in my lap for a while. I’ll miss that, but I know that no matter what, this afternoon at three pm, Blyger will leave this plane of existence to move into our hearts, forever. While I’ll miss his physical presence, while I know I’ll see his shadow for months to come roaming the house, I also realize that he’s not really gone. Not as long as we remember him. And remember him we shall, fondly:
Haakon and Blyger helping themselves to roast beef off of our breakfast table…
One thing is certain though: adulting is overrated.
Hans M Hirschi
high priest to feline deities for most of his life