Friday, September 7, 2012

Morgaine - Part 2

Want to re-read the happy part of the story instead of reading this sad part?  Go here.

Morgaine, 08/16
I started to notice that Morgaine was acting a little different around 08/16.  Nothing major, she was just laying around a little more than usual.  It was the middle of August, it was hot - this was to be expected.  She still woke me up in the morning for breakfast, she still fought with Mako.  Everything was as it should be.  Sure, maybe she was eating a little more slowly than usual, but she was a grazer.  She would eat small bits of her food all day long, coming back for seconds and thirds.  She certainly wasn't any thinner.  Nothing to worry about.  Some days she seemed a little more down than usual, but she'd always perk back up the next day.  Such was the case with Wednesday, 08/22.  She seemed more especially uninterested in the morning, but by the time we got home from work she was much better.  And Thursday morning she was back to normal.  She ate dinner when I got home from work.  But when I returned home after an evening at my parents' house, she was hiding under my filing cart.  She had never gone under there before, and I was extremely alarmed.  You always here about cats hiding when they are sick and dying, so as not to draw predators to their families.  I was convinced this was what she was doing.  But it was 10:30 at night and there was nothing I could do.  So we resolved to let her rest, see how she was in the morning, and make decisions from there.

Friday morning she was fine.  She woke me for breakfast, stampeded down the stairs with Mako, jumped onto the kitchen table to be fed.  She ate a few nibbles of her breakfast.  I was relieved.  False alarm, thank God.  I went to work worried, but mostly reassured.  I was taking a half day vacation day because I needed to use it up before my new cycle started, so it was convenient that I'd be able to check on her just in case.  Looking back at my journal entry from that day, I think I knew deep down that she was not okay, but I tried to convince myself anyway.

I got home around 12:30 and Morgaine was not in any of her spots.  She was not on the sofa or the loveseat or the kitchen table or the bed.  She was sprawled out on my office floor, panting.  My impulse was to just take a nap and hope everything had resolved itself when I woke up.  But instead I called Kylie to come over.  As I've stated again and again, I don't know what I'd do without her.  She took one look at Morgaine and insisted that she needed to go to the vet.  I was resistant.  Surely it was just a cold.  No need to go jumping to conclusions.  Everything was fine.

We sat on the floor of my office across the room from Morgaine, so as not to stress her out any further.  As we debated whether or not she needed to go to the vet, she got up and walked over to me.  She rubbed against the length of me, curling her little tail around my arm, and laid down next to me for a few minutes before making her way into the bedroom.  In retrospect, this tiny moment of affection means more to me than I can possibly express in words.  But at the time, I thought her getting up meant she was fine, and I insisted we go downstairs and let her rest while we ate lunch.  We'd check on her when we were finished.  I turned the air conditioner on and spread out her favorite blanket for her. 

Her last place.
Of course, it is probably obvious by this point that she was not fine when we checked on her after lunch.  She was the same, maybe worse.  I tried to tempt her with tuna juice and treats.  She ate one treat and drank one tiny bit of juice.  I still didn't want to take her to the vet, I wanted to wait for Chris.  I didn't want to have to deal with this, to make decisions.  Together, Kylie and Chris convinced me that she had to go immediately, so Kylie called and made an appointment.  3:20.  We bundled Morgaine up in the cat carrier and my dad drove us to the vet, since I was in no condition to get behind the wheel of a car.  She cried the whole way, reaching for me through the bars.  I held her little paw and tried to reassure her.  "It will be fine," I told her.  "Everything will be okay.  I'm just trying to help you."

We got there early, of course, and Morgaine went from bad to worse while we waited.  She was crying and panting and coughing and gasping.  She flipped around, trying to get into a better position to breathe.  She peed herself and Kylie went to get a vet tech.  The tech took one look at Morgaine and rushed her away, ushering us into an exam room to wait.  I knew then that she was never coming home, though I tried really hard to believe otherwise. 

Waiting at the vet - stress splotches.
Eventually the vet came in to get some info from me and to tell us the bad news.  Morgaine was in critical condition, she had almost died in the waiting room, but they had stabilized her.  She had so much fluid in her chest that they could not even hear her heart.  Her gums were blue, she was not getting enough oxygen.  They wanted to do an xray to see if they could find the problem, but she was in such bad condition that even moving her to the xray machine might kill her.  I told them to do what they must.  She left again and we waited some more.  My dad showed up.  Chris called.  The vet came back and told us that there was so much fluid they couldn't even see anything.  The best they could do would be to drain the fluid and go from there.  Even if they drained all the fluid, there was no telling how long it would last.  The underlying problem was either a heart problem or cancer, so even if the fluid drawing was successful, there was a long road ahead of us.  Again I told them to do what they must.  They said they'd call when they were finished, that we had to take her home, they don't have overnight staff.  We left and went back to my parents' house.  My mum picked Chris up from work.  We waited for a call.

She'll never great me at the door again.
My phone rang at 5:45.  I jumped up, excited to get my tiny baby back.  The vet on the phone was very apologetic.  They had tried to drain the fluid, but there was so much.  The fluid was bloody, which is a big indicator of highly progressed cancer.  Morgaine had started vomiting blood on the operating table.  There's nothing more they can do, she was really trying to die on her own.  They we doing all they could to keep her alive, but...  I threw the phone at Kylie, I couldn't listen anymore.  I don't know what they said to her or what she said to them.  Me, Kylie, and Chris jumped in the car and my mum drove us to the vet faster than I thought possible.  There was traffic - so much traffic.  It was a beautiful Friday.  I cried and cried.  My tiny girl.  My poor tiny baby.  How could this even be happening?

She'll never meow at me through the window again.
At the vet they led us to the Rainbow Bridge room, complete with mural.  I thought they'd bring her in to us, but instead we were taken to the back, to the operating room.  My poor tiny baby was on a table in that cold, harsh room.  She was hooked up to oxygen and wrapped in a fleece Winnie the Pooh blanket.  Only her head and front paws were exposed.  She was still breathing heavy and her little tongue was sticking out.  But she was alert.  And she made eye contact with me and responded to my voice.  I petted her and told her how much I love her and how I was just trying to help her.  I told her how sorry I was and how much I was going to miss her and how sad I was that I'd never see her tiny toes again.  Chris came over and said "squeadle" to her, which was the sound she made whenever he cuddled her, and my heart broke all over again.  I put my head on her chest and buried my nose in the fur on the back of her head for the last time.  Kylie told me that she was kneading.  She knew that I was there for her and that makes me feel like I'll never be whole again.

She'll never wait here to be fed again.
I asked her if she was ready to go and I swear to you on everything I hold dear that she nodded her little head.  So the vets came in and I pressed my forehead to hers and closed my eyes and felt the life leave my poor tiny baby.  My prettiest little girl.  Her death itself was not as terrible as I had feared, she didn't jerk or cry out or struggle.  She just ceased to be.

She'll never sit here while we eat dinner again.
Blood trickled out of her mouth and I thought I'd die or throw up or pass out from not being able to cope.  The vets removed the oxygen mask and wiped her little mouth and left us alone for a while.  I stroked her ears and touched her tiny black pads and wept for all I'd lost. Leaving her, so small and alone in that lifeless room was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.  I would never, ever see her again and that killed me. 

Her dish will never be here again.
It still kills me.  Every day brings some new tragedy, some new realization.  She'll never be waiting for me by the door when I come home from work.  She'll never sleep on my head in the morning, purring so loud that she is the only thing in my world.  She'll never rub my legs when I'm fresh out of the shower and get hair stuck to me.  She'll never creep into my lap.  She'll never bat food off my plate at dinner.  She'll never run ahead of me into the bedroom and hop on the bed, hoping for cuddles.  And I always did cuddle her.  But it wasn't enough.  Not even seven years.  It was not enough.  I wish I had carried her around with me and never let her go.  I wish I had taken more pictures, more videos.  I wish I had memorized which toes were black and which were white.  I wish I had recorded her purrs, her meows.  I wish I'd had more time. 

She'll never wait at the top of the steps for me again.
I feel angry at the Mutz for being 19 and still alive, even though that's not fair.  I feel guilty for not taking her to the vet sooner, even though everyone assures me that even taking her back on 08/16 would not have made a difference.  I feel like a failure for not noticing something sooner.  How could she have such terrible cancer and I never even knew?  I feel afraid that maybe the trip to the vet was what did her in, all that bouncing around.  Maybe if we'd left her at home the fluid would have gone away on its own and she would have been fine.  There has to be something, anything, that I could have done differently. 

She'll never sleep on the bed again.
Every room holds memories.  Everything looks like her, out of the corner of my eye.  A blanket, a roll of paper towels, one of the other cats.  I think it is her and it seems natural.  And then I remember that she is gone and I get excited - maybe there's been some terrible mistake.  And then I see the true identity of whatever item and I am destroyed.  All of this happens within a split second, and all of this happens several times a day. 

Heart-shaped mozzarella bite from the day she died.
Mako looks for her everywhere.  Behind curtains, behind doors, under furniture.  It's heartbreaking.  I want him to stop because it makes me sad, but at the same time I don't ever want him to forget her.

My tiniest baby.
The moral of this story is hug your cats if you've got them.  Or your dogs or your guinea pigs or whatever animal you've got.  You never know how long you have left with them.

1 comment:

  1. <3
    she may have had an unfairly short life, but it was full of love and happiness. you gave her more than she ever could have hoped for. it's not goodbye, just see you later.

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