Tuesday, March 10, 2009

End of Life Issues

We don’t always make the right decisions, but generally, life is filled with options, loaded with endless possibilities. Or, it seems to be, until you get closer to the end. Then, suddenly, the field of choices narrows considerably.

It’s ironic how similar Tigger the Cat’s decline and that of my 83-year-old great-uncle are. They both need surgery, and both are too old and too frail to have it. Both are on medication. Both are receiving care that, at most, is palliative. And both of them have people agonizing over what to do with them.

Right now, Tigger seems to have the advantage over my uncle. He is home, surrounded by all his familiar things, not somewhere else in the care of strangers. He can still walk and eat, though in either case not with gusto that has been his tradition for nearly 17 years. The vet says his time is short. Very short. And with but a word from us, it can be made shorter still.

But we aren’t there. Yet. “You’ll know,” the vet said. I know I’ll know, too, and there’s no comfort in that. None at all.

So last night we spent a chunk of the evening rearranging furniture, repositioning bedding, and generally trying to make everything as easy as possible for whatever time is left.

I thought the inevitable had occurred during the four hours since I’d left him (and during which the mother had silently crept in to check a time or two or four) when I wasn’t met with the traditional long, deep meow. He was still in bed, one paw tucked around his eyes. But he was just sleeping.

Before I could get up from the floor, I got my greeting. And almost as quickly, I had a cat padding along behind me as I always do during the morning routine.

I might have rushed through it like I usually do.

But not today. Definitely, not today.

16 comments:

Denise said...

I'm so sorry you're at that stage with Tigger — I feel your pain. We're lucky to be able to put our furry family members out of their misery, but it doesn't make it easier for us, does it?

And I'm sorry for your uncle too. Sending good thoughts your way.

Renovation Therapy said...

Hugs for Tigger...lucky that he has such an awesome Mommy (and Grandmommy). Hope your Uncle is finding some comfort.

Karen Anne said...

I'm sorry...

Gene said...

Sorry to hear about Tigger and your uncle. It's never easy with animals or people :-(

Liz said...

I'm so sorry, NV. If only animals could answer us when we ask them what they need. My thoughts are with you and your family, and that includes the ones with 4 legs.

Why S? said...

I'm so sorry. I know this is difficult. My thoughts go out to all of you.

cd said...

Thinking of you and your Mom today.

Jayne said...

Oh, that's so hard. I've been there myself, unfortunately with both people and pets, and it's so hard. I'll be thinking of you.

plumbelieve said...

So sorry to hear about your baby. I know this can be hard and I wish you, the mother and your cat comfort in these next few days.

MonkeyGirl said...

Know that Tigger has had the best life a cat could ever want. He is very well loved and my thoughts are with you for both Tigger and your uncle.

Vicki said...

Aww, definitely virtual hugs coming your way.

rustbeltrebel said...

My heart goes out to you and your mom. These things are never easy.

May Tigger and your Great Uncle find peace and comfort.

Michele

NV said...

WOW! THANKS everyone! I normally respond to these individually, but the response is pretty overwhelming (at least for this blog it is) so please collectively accept my gratitude for your kindness and support and hugs. It's all very much appreciated! :-)

Ann said...

I'm just so sorry. I had to put my 20yr old to sleep about 2.5 years ago, it's tough no matter what. Know I'm thinking of you - and please give Tigger a GINORMOUS love-hug from Ann. :)

NV said...

Ann -- Awww, thanks! 20? Wow!

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