Sunday, July 13, 2014
The Dilemma Of Waiting
Dilemma: a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones.
Unbelievably, my little cat, Eggnog, still clings to life. She is so thin that I fear anyone seeing her might call me to task for abuse or neglect.
She spent a day upstairs [ Wednesday] curled in her usual spot on the windowsill that looks onto the front porch. She ate perhaps half a teaspoonful of the canned food which I offered. She seemed contented--she's never been a bustling creature.
Late in the evening she had another of the distressing spells of choking up a white froth, was twitchy and restless. I thought her heartbeat was shallow and too quick. I spread a soft blanket on the loveseat for her and braced myself to sit close by and see her out. She folded herself near me; I gently stroked her head.
After an hour she suddenly hopped down, headed for the stairs. By the time I turned on the light and followed her, she had clambered onto the storage bin where she had spent the preceding 24 hours. I folded a clean fleece for her to rest on, hovered over her until it seemed I really must go to bed. I expected that when I went down in the morning I would find her life ebbed away.
She hangs on--staying downstairs, becoming thinner, if such is possible. She greets me each time I go down--appreciates being lightly brushed, petted. Sometimes she seems tired, other times she chirps, butts her bony head into my palm, encouraging me to rub along her jaw. Tonight while I was tidying litter boxes, I saw her hop down and drink from the water bowl--tiny, tiny sips.
I wanted this painful time shortened--for her--and, in truth, for me. I know there is a tendency to attribute human ways to our animals [that lovely word: anthropomorphizing?] I know I don't have to follow through on this commitment to let her 'die at home' without the stress of the half hour drive to the vet. I can change my mind, have it over.
Part of this is about me, of course--about my reticence in sharing the moments of parting with anyone else, no matter how kindly. I have usually made this 'last trip' with my cats on my own, cat carrier on the seat beside me, fingers of my right hand stretched through the wire of the carrier, to try and sooth the occupant. I can drive while crying!
There have been times I've handled the final moments without breaking down--not making conversation, surely--but keeping my hands on my pet while the merciful needle slips in. Other times, tears have blurred my eyes as I wrote the check at the office desk, I've felt too choked to make much response to the comments of the vet or the assistant.
Eggnog's death, however/whenever, is going to be one of the more difficult ones.
So, I wait--and I observe--and I feel the sadness of this stretching out. I question my decision endlessly. I tell myself, 'Surely, tomorrow. Wait for tomorrow.'
There is no indication that Eggnog is in pain. She is fragile, diminished, tired, but still responsive.
The ready tears sting my eyes as I read your expressions of sympathy. We don't know the cadence of each others' voices--but we recognize the kinships of the heart--the bond of those who treasure animal companions.