Last week I was sitting in a work meeting when my friend got the call that his fur baby was dying. My boss and I ran straight to the other room to comfort him without hesitation (tripping over the Director of said company we were meeting with) and we held my friend as he dealt with the news that his best fur friend was not going to make it.
The next day he said farewell to his best buddy of 12 years.
Pets are special, and I think people who have pets are special.
It might be why I am so close to people who have cats and dogs.
If I find out you are an animal person then chances are that I will like you already. If you mention the word ‘cat’ I will be your best friend forever.
Not having a pet is something not in the realm of my imagination. I always grew up with a cat in the house, there was Emily, then there were our kittens Milo and Leo, and then there was my Winnie.
Now most of you close to me would know about Winnie. She was a very special cat. And although I love my little Sasha, Winnie was my childhood best friend and will always hold a place in my heart.
I got her when I was 12 and she died when I was 31. She was by my side for 19 years, longer than any friend or boyfriend.
Winnie gave me unconditional love and support. When I was little, she would follow me to the bus stop and sit on the street as I went to school. She would wait for me at the front step when I came home. She would follow me to my friends house up the road and sit on her driveway until I came out. She would lick my tears if I was upset, sit on my lap when I was watching TV and took it upon herself to turn my husband into a cat person.
He pretty much knew that a lifetime with me, meant a lifetime with cats, and Winnie wore him down to make sure he understood.
I think she waited it out till I came home from London before she said goodbye so we could have a few more years together. This is us before I left to go back to the UK for the last time.
When animals are sick, they can’t communicate to us what they are feeling. They go off their food or won’t sit in the sun anymore. They will stop meowing or barking and won’t do the things they like.
We have to take the hint that they are not happy anymore. Then take them to the vet. Which they hate. And this sucks.
It is up to us to make the decision to end their life, which is what makes it so hard and heartbreaking. How can you make the decision to farewell your best friend?
And with this comes the heartache. Pain. Tears. Reminiscing. But at the same time relief that our fur babies have not suffered the indignity that sometimes we humans do by stretching out life as much as we can, no matter the suffering.
We come home from the vet with a gap in our hearts, knowing that no one will replace our friend.
I will always look for that spot in the garden where she used to sleep, or check behind that cushion on the couch just out of habit, and then I realise again with a heavy heart that she is gone.
And despite the pain and sadness, we do it all over again.
For my friend G in memory of Candace (Candy) Rodden – 30.12.2002-11.10.2014