Our cat died today. He was 17. I had him long before I met Gabe or had the kids. He was there for my first heartbreak. My first real job. My first years of trying to figure out how to be an adult. He was there when I met Gabe. And moved to New York. He was there when I got married. And when I got pregnant. He was there when I gave birth. Once. Twice. He'd been with me longer than any other member of my family, and now he's gone.
I cried a lot today. My son found the cat this morning curled in a ball, barely moving. “Something is wrong with Pushkin,” he said. One look, and Gabe and I knew. It was over. We let the kids say goodbye and then I rushed Pushkin to the vet ER.
The doctor told me he was very sick. She couldn't save him. His heart rate was low. His body temp undetectable. It was time. She asked if I need a moment. I said yes. I cuddled Pushkin in a blanket and told him what a good kitty he was. I told him about the night I got him. Rescued as a tiny kitten from an alley in LA.
And then the vet came in.
I've always been afraid of death. My fear of death has been something of an obsession at times in my life. It's kept me up at night. It's filled my days with anxiety. So when the vet asked if I wanted to be there when they put Pushkin down, I hesitated. Did I want to be there? For me? No. Could I bear to watch someone I love be put to sleep? No. Could I face death so brazenly? No.
But did I want to be there for Pushkin? Yes.
And so I was.
It was fast. It was peaceful. The vet listened to his heart for a moment, looked up at me and said, “He's gone.”
I rushed to the car and sat there crying. I needed to mourn him alone for a moment.
And then I drove home.
The kids and I lit a candle and talked about Pushkin. We blessed his little soul. We laughed about the good times. Remembered the not-so-good times (all the pooping on the beds! and the puking!). And we cried. And cried. And cried.
My daughter kept asking “Why?” “Why today?” “Why him?” “Why now?” I had no answers except we all have our time.
My fear of death met death today. And although it ripped my heart out, it wasn't as terrifying as it has been in my mind all these years. It was natural. It was peaceful. It was time.
RIP Pushkin. We loved you.