I’m sad to report that a 15-year love affair ended today. I put my sweet little companion, Barry White, to sleep at noon after deciding it was time late last night. It was a difficult decision. I had my heart set on him running off into the field someday soon and just never coming back, but he’s way too much of a mama’s boy to do that. He has been wasting away for several weeks now. A few months ago he was put on thyroid meds and he began to bounce back to his vibrant self until about three weeks ago. He seemingly lost several pounds overnight and pretty much quit eating (which is one of his favorite pastimes). I knew his meds were calibrated correctly because his levels were tested just a few weeks before and his blood work came out fantastic. The retired vet tech in me knew that his lack of appetite, weight loss and super stinky breath meant that his kidneys were shutting down and he was in the beginning stages of renal failure. I’ve learned from past mistakes not to go overboard trying to delay the inevitable and he was nice enough to make it clear that for once in my life I was not to intervene. He was going to embrace his failing health. So his last days were spent on his terms and I let him do the things he needed to do. No meds were shoved down his throat. No forced feeding. I let him go outside and visit with his groundhog friends and chase insects. He got milk and tuna when he wanted it and he got lots of love. He was purring, dust bathing, and sunning himself outside until the moment I brought him to the vet today. Even the car ride was nice. No despised pet carrier. He rode on my lap, pressed up against my chest, seat belted in with me. The windows were down and the wind was in his hair. That’s the first and only time I can say that he enjoyed a car ride.
My biggest problem has always been figuring out when is the proper time to put an animal to sleep. There’s such guilt surrounding this issue and past mistakes have, and always will, haunt me. Like I said, I was hoping he would make the decision for me but I got the signal I needed last night. He was laying on my bed–purring–and he opened his mouth to talk to me and I saw that his gums were white like a sheet. Being a retired vet tech, I knew what would be next–yellow. The jaundiced look of liver failure. Yellow eyes, skin and mouth. I would never want to see my friend suffer that way. The purrs, the nature walks, the late night kisses and booty calls were soon coming to an end and then there would be no more joy left. I’m not convinced his love would ever run out entirely–he is Barry White after all, the Ambassador of Love–but it would be heartbreaking to see his love flame totally extinguished. It was time to end on a high note and I knew it. This morning he went outside and hid in the grass a few steps away from the house. Usually he would be in a groundhog hole by that point–making out with an entire community of groundhogs–but he couldn’t make it that far–another indication that it was time. Then I cried and two huge breaths, like waves, washed over me and told me that it all was perfect. I finally got the timing just right. After so many past mistakes I finally learned something. And it felt good.
Things I will miss:
♥ I speak for all of us by saying that we will all miss the late night B&W booty calls. He felt it necessary to visit every person and animal in the middle of the night to shower them with kisses and drool. He would do this all night long. Every night. I joked that I was going to make a collar for him that would hold a small pencil and paper so we could all write notes to each other. He is such a vigorous late night lover that it took two baby gates to keep him out of our bedrooms at night when I was living at home with my mother.
♥ I will miss the drool. Such an unexpected surprise.
♥ I will miss how you are not independent like other cats. You are very much a little man in a tuxedo.
♥ I will miss how you completely take for granted the fact that you are bright white and black. You can be seen a million miles away but yet you think when you are out hunting in the field that you are camouflaged somehow. I could never understand how you caught anything.
♥ I will miss how you let my mother treat you like a little baby. She would come outside every night and call your name until you came running out of the woods to her. Then you would stop at her feet, sit down and wait until she picked you up and cradled you in her arms like a baby. You put up with this treatment every night. You are the closest thing to a grand kid she will ever have.
♥ Petunia will miss sniffing your butt, coveting your food and being jealous of the attention you receive when you walk into a room.
♥ I will miss my little lap warmer. You always loved being an active part of my work. Heck, you even wrote many of my blog posts for me and sadly, I took all the credit.
♥ Your ridiculously large feet/snowshoes will be missed. God gawd! In all my years I’ve never seen such wonderful paws. Pictures don’t do them justice.
I’ve learned a great many things from my friend over these past 15 years. Above all else, I’ve learned that we all sell ourselves short when it comes to our ability to love others. I don’t believe in one singular love or just focusing my love on one person. I’ve come to learn that I have the capacity to actively love ten, hundreds, potentially thousands of people at any one time. To love just one would diminish what I’m capable of and thereby sell the world short. Can you imagine how great it would be if people just stopped focusing on finding some “one” and instead found many to love? I don’t mean any of this in a sexual way, but in an emotional/spiritual way which is by far more important. B&W lived that philosophy every day. He loved every dog, groundhog, insect, person and sometimes cat that crossed his path. There was no preference; his love seamlessly bridged the species gap. When he was with you, he focused all of his love and attention all on you. The magnitude of it often became overwhelming, in a good way. Then when it was time, he would move on to the next being and do the same. In some points of his life he collected 2nd and possibly 3rd families. He had more than enough love for all of us. So perhaps we can all learn something from him. 1. Love everyone you possibly can with no expectation of what you’ll get in return. 2. Be genuine in showing your affection for them. 3. Make them feel important when you are with them. Your time may be short with them but make it concentrated.
Happy trails to you, dear friend. Until we meet again! You were, are and always will be loved. I hope everyone goes home and gives their own pet(s) a huge lick on the face for me and Barry White Kitty.