Please find below another guest post from Linda Smith. This time about her beloved Max:
Fellow blogger, Stuart Perkins recently wrote a blog entry about a beloved dog, Mitzi; what she meant to him as a growing boy, how he continued to love her into adulthood & how her passing was, to him, as deeply & sadly felt as any death in the family.
Stuart’s blog entry touched me very personally as our 19-year-old cat, Max was struggling with end stage renal disease. My husband & I were struggling with his impending loss & the heartache of making end-of-life decisions for him. I felt a huge connection to Perkins when he wrote of an almost visceral need to leave work when he found out about the loss of Mitzi. When asked by his boss why he needed to leave work early, he said, “A death in the family.” When his boss wouldn’t let him leave work because the death was a dog, he left anyway.
Those of us who know & have known the love for & OF a special pet would certainly have held the office door open for Stuart as he bundled up his grief & left work without permission. There is no other love like it & few words to describe it. It is one of our most precious & personal gifts … being able to communicate with another species & to share an abounding love.
I’m not going to attempt to describe the love I felt for Max. If you have ever shared that kind of love with a 4-legged family member, then there is no need for me to ramble around trying to find the right words to describe it. You KNOW. If you have never known that special kind of love, then no attempt of mine to describe it will make you understand. And if you have missed having that in your life, I am truly sorry.
Max was 19 when he died. We had had him so long that he wasn’t just a part of our daily routine …. he was a part of US. I never thought of him as a pet. Somehow that term implied a level beneath where we held Max. I saw him as an adult of another species who shared our space & our lives & exchanged tremendous amounts of love with us. I had great respect for him as a member of his species. I believe if we have that attitude & have our 4-legged family members for a significant length of time, they exhibit a higher intelligence level & are able to better communicate with us. And that’s huge.
Just like I’m not going to attempt to describe my love for Max, or the love he so obviously returned to me & my husband, I’m not going to include anecdotes about him, even though there are so very many. I’m just going to say that he entertained us & made our lives richer. He was there as a tremendous comfort when I lost my Mom, when I had knee replacement surgery & when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. He spent every evening, without fail, lying on my feet on the family room sofa following my chemo treatments. Cats just KNOW.
When Max became very ill my husband & I did everything we were capable of doing to keep him comfortable until it became obvious that it was time to make that toughest of all decisions. It was a hard call made even harder because we loved him so much.
When we knew Max was in distress, with the help of our extremely caring & empathetic veterinarian who was as helpful to us as she was to Max, we carefully & lovingly let him go. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done. But as someone told me, it was our last gift of our deepest love to our Max.
The house seems empty now & I have a huge hole in my heart. I didn’t know there was enough room in a heart to hold so much grief. In time it will be easier. Willy said he has seen me less affected by human deaths in the family & that is so.
Cat Fancy Magazine says that the best memorial we can give to a loved pet is to share our lives again with another who is in need of a forever home & our love. I have no doubt that eventually we will have another cat because a house is simply not a home without one. But today & for a while I can’t do that. I’m not ready. That hole in my heart is still gaping.
Someone gave me a plaque that says:
Heaven- all the cats that have ever loved you will be waiting for you at the gate.
I believe that is so because heaven wouldn’t be heaven without cats.
Max understood commands & much of what we said to him. I brushed him every day & if the phone would ring or someone would come to the door while I was brushing him & I had to leave him temporarily, I’d say to him, “Wait on me, Max. I’ll be right back. Wait on me,” & he always did.
Before our veterinarian helped Max into a gentler place, we held him & told him we loved him. The last thing I said to him was, “I love you, Max. Wait for me ….”