Losing Daddy’s Girl

our tortie cat, AdaStorms and rejection hit hard, but not like losing a treasured pet.

It’s been a rough week. We lost a tree in the front yard in last week’s storm, and spent the whole weekend cutting it up and hauling the wood away; two pickup-loads. Sadly, it was the maple, which was one of the few healthy, non-messy ones.

maple tree fallen from stormAnd, doing all that work, it hit home how incredibly out of shape I am, and feeling miserable and ugly about that.  My meds are working (thank God), but they make me hungry all the time.  I have a wedding to attend this weekend, and every dress I own makes me look either like a stuffed sausage or five months pregnant.

my paletteThen I found out my painting was rejected by the State Fair Art Show … I know they get literally thousands of entries, but I was hoping I’d at least make the first cut… A jab to the ego, that. I know it’s making me unsatisfied with the other paintings I’m trying to finish. I find I’m getting really anxious about the outdoor show I’ve been accepted in – okay, rising panic, is probably more the word – and I’ve unhappily decided that I’m not making it as a FT fine artist, and I need to start looking for graphic design or some other PT work. Saying “it’s not me, it’s the market/customer-base/economy” etc. doesn’t help me feel less a failure as an artist.

Hardest, though, was deciding to put our 16-year-old cat, Ada, to sleep.

tortie cat asleep in sunAda’s our sweet-natured girl, our “Attention Defecit Animal”, our princess.  We’ve given her a long life, caring for her as she developed arthritis, asthma, and a heart murmur.  Even into her late teens, she’s always been affectionate, curious and playful.

She’s gotten to the point where lying down, getting up, and walking a straight line are all hard, and she “gets lost” in the middle of the room and cries all hours of the day. Her breathing is so shallow her asthma has vanished, but her heart is always racing. All she wants is water, all the time (that’s the kidneys failing), but she wants it from the sink, and it’s hard to keep her from falling in. She’s just recently stopped trying to make it to the litter box. Petting her is like stroking a skeleton, and if she looks up, she starts to fall over. And the last few days she’s fallen, several times. She thinks she can still climb up on things, but she can’t even make it to the window-seat, and falls hard. She’s fallen off the counters more than once.

I’m scared to leave her home alone, and my husband wakes up and sits with her in the night, which has him worn thin.

We know it’s time. But it’s so hard, when there’s no cut-and-dried point; she’s not “in pain”, but it’s selfish to keep her going past the point where she has any quality of life.

We knew it was coming.  A month ago she stopped eating for two weeks, and we thought that was it. But she rallied, giving us weeks more time with her than we ever expected. But it’s still harder than I anticipated: being the human, and making the decision to end a life. Sometimes she doesn’t seem to know us, but other times she seems happy to be picked up and held, and to look out the window… I guess we decided to do it while she’s still “herself”.

We’ve scheduled later tonight, at a time when we can both be there, and with the vet Ada’s seen most of her life (though that’s probably more for our peace of mind than hers). We’ll take her outside in the sun this afternoon, and ply her with the things she loves but shouldn’t have, like chocolate pudding and dabs of butter.

tortie cat on shoulderIt’s hitting my husband much harder than he expected. A farm boy, he grew up with working animals, not family pets. When our cat Mushu went, he went to live first with a friend, then at the no-kill shelter for his behavior issues, and we visited him. When he passed, we were already removed from his life. So this is the first family pet, who has been a shoulder-riding “daddy’s girl” for all the eighteen years of her life, that he’s had to deal with losing.

It puts the other slings and arrows in perspective. Both the weighty responsibility, and the sorrow.

Ada, we’ll miss you so much.

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