Bye-bye to Cuddling

The situation required a quick decision. With too much thought and lead time, we knew we couldn’t do it.

It was the morning after two nights of our 17-year-old cat Clarice’s near constant, unfamiliar, strained meows, keeping us awake. Clarice had been our gentle, affectionate family companion after my husband found her at his office. She was lost downtown during our city party, the Wichita River Festival.

I wasn’t a cat person until I encountered Clarice. We never knew a more loving cat.

But father time chased her down with arthritis that made her wobble. Her drooping eyelid, common to older cats, caused near constant irritation only relieved by Joe’s twice a day eye drop administration. The alternating blood work and medicine to correct the effects of her aging kidneys, thyroid imbalance, and heart condition clued us in that Clarice’s days were numbered. That weekend Clarice stopped eating and drinking. Even my husband’s special Sunday morning grocery trip to buy Clarice’s favorite Breyers ice cream along with a Fancy Feast presentation of pureed salmon and shrimp did not sustain her interest past a few licks.

Maturity and the financial realities of family life helped us have a more reasonable approach. Years before as DINKS (Dual Income, No Kids), we imprudently spent thousands of dollars in the last months of our Cocker Spaniel Wink’s life. He was named Wink because he had only one eye.

So after Sunday 11:00 am mass, I whispered to my husband. Motivated by witnessing Clarice’s intense pain with no realistic chance for improvement, I suggested now was the time. He agreed. We told the kids. We went home to get Clarice and put her carrier on the kids’ lap as we drove to the emergency veterinary clinic. Tears fell during our drive to the clinic as we said a prayer of thanksgiving to God for so many great years with our loving, cuddly Clarice.

Joe would be with Clarice as she got the injection. The kids and I would wait in the waiting area. Before the aid called Clarice and Joe back, we invited our kids to say their last goodbyes.

Our youngest two ran to her side. Our eleven-year-old sat in the chair with his head down, still yet to release a tear. I encouraged Ian to say good-bye, so there would be no regrets. As he petted Clarice for the last time, the floodgates of tears streamed down his face.

Loving Clarice provides useful lessons about life, death, loving, and letting go….if we are willing to feel the pain of grieving.

The Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationship Tip: Boldly face sorrow as it is the price of love.