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Archive for June, 2017

Goodbye, My Friend

18671043_10154486604365906_7892019700575037064_nOn May 1, 2017, almost eleven years after I said hello to Hannah, I had to say goodbye.

She’d been struggling with the effects of kidney disease—in particular, severe constipation. Many months earlier, she’d started howling in the middle of the night, a behavior the vet said could simply be a sign of old age (she was estimated to be fourteen at the time of her death, but might’ve been 1-2 years older), but which I began to realize was an expression of discomfort and pain. The howling grew more frequent, occurring during the day, and then every time she sat down. She appeared depressed. Moments of contentment–when she could curl up beside me on the couch–grew further apart. She stopped playing.

One evening in mid-April, for the first time in a long while, she egged me on for a game of chase, our special game, something her little brother Sam never understood how to play. But this time her chasing was frantic in tone. After a couple of rounds she ran near the litter box, stopped, looked up at me, dead in the eye, and howled. I felt she was trying to tell me something: she’d had enough. She needed the pain to end.

I wanted her to go with her dignity still intact. She’d been through a round of enemas and stool extraction, and the screams that came from her then came from deep in her soul. I wasn’t going to put her through that again.

Four days after our last game of chase, I said goodbye–first at home. I spent the morning with her, talking to her, brushing her. She spent the morning rubbing her face all over my head, something she only did when she knew I was sad. That afternoon, at the vet clinic, she was distressed. I was upset. She wouldn’t look at me. I tried not to anthropomorphize–was she angry with me? Would she forgive me? Later, I’d recall that over the years she never looked at me when I took her to see the vet—it was only after I took her home that she’d make eye contact, rub up against my legs, and purr and purr. It’s just that this time she wasn’t coming back home with me. We wouldn’t have that moment.

In the moment we had, I held her close and sang a song into her ear–“My sweet Hannah…my beautiful, my beautiful…”–a song I’d made up after we first met, one that always calmed her, one that turned the word “beautiful” into a noun.

Because that’s what Hannah was and always will be, to me.

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{Although this blog closed a few years ago, I decided to write this post as a tribute to Hannah, to the book I wrote about her, and to all of you who’ve expressed your interest, love, and care over the years. For that, Hannah, Sam, and I sincerely thank you. — TS} 

 

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