Monday, January 3, 2011

The Little Warrior


My best friend, Kerry, had plans for quite some time to vacation in Spain over the holidays. Not long before she was to leave, her cat Sammy came down with what we thought was a cold/flu sort of thing. It was ascertained that he had a tiny mass in his hard palate. Kerry and Sammy's doctor had a fair amount of conversation about this—what it meant at the moment and what it might mean in the future and what options were viable.

After two attempts at different antibiotics, Sammy was back to his old self. Kerry and I talked quite a bit about what to do and I encouraged her to continue with her plans and that Sammy would be happy and content at my home for the holidays. Knowing that I wouldn't take no for an answer, I was delighted that Kerry agreed. We decided that Sammy should spend his first night at my home while Kerry was still in town so that we could see how he fared.

The little guy took to his new surroundings immediately. He was my constant companion—except for when he needed his alone time. And this alone time always seemed to involve finding the best patch of sunlight for napping. When he wasn't patrolling the perimeter, he was ensconced in my studio, making his best bid to commandeer my keyboard ... or steal Geo's chair ... or "help" with the podcast that is recorded most Wednesday evenings ... or test out new perches ... or sleep in my lap. I was forced—FORCED, I tell you—to watch old movies with him while he curled up next to me. He had tiny toys and water bowls on all three levels of my home and his meals were served twice a day, each time in a fresh crystal dish.

What? No. Of course I was not wrapped around his elegant, little paw. Not even one little bit.

Near the end of his holiday, he developed a bad cough. I called the Cat Clinic and talked with his doctor. She thought the mass might have a grown a bit and started to cause the congestion I reported. I picked up more meds and proceeded to annoy him at dinnertime with the refresh of antibiotics. He did love, however, that I now had him sit in his new steam room, previously known as my bathroom. He put up no resistance to relocating to the bathroom when he heard the shower running. This new regimen seemed to help, at least enough to take off the edge. He was still eating, even though with a little less enthusiasm. He was still prowling around every level of the house. And he still wanted to "help" record the second podcast during his stay. But I knew down deep that he was diminished, despite his noble attempt to be a good guest. The night before he left, we watched movies together and he lay with his little head on my chest and I suddenly had that sharp corkscrew-to-the-heart feeling. Because I knew. I just knew. It was the inescapable knowledge that this was the last time we would spend an evening like this.

Kerry returned and came to scoop him up. We sat on my red couch, Sammy on her lap, and our conversation that afternoon was a sad one. It was the private conversation between best friends where some things are said and some things are unsaid but completely understood. We have that kind of connection. We packed up the car with the ton of things that a little being needs. (Why is that exactly? The smaller they are, the more things they seem to need. – See: Babies)

Later that day, my cell rang. It was Kerry. With tragic news. Once home, Sammy completely devolved. He had an awful event. She rushed him to the clinic. The mass had grown dramatically and he was fighting to breathe. There was nothing that could be done but the one humane thing.

At age 11, Sammy left us, peaceful and protected and lying in the arms of Kerry, the person he loved most and best.

~ ~ ~

The Bustle in a House (1108)
by Emily Dickinson

The Bustle in a House
The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon Earth –

The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity –

~ ~ ~

More photos of Sammy and his holiday stay at Sheer Brick Studio.


Frank Roche said...

I am so sorry to hear that. Sammy was family to Kerry (and you).

What a wonderful tribute to him. Sad that he's gone so soon.

Anonymous said...

Love-if only Humans could learn how to be/act as a Pet...the World would be much better off for it :)

A Kovacs said...

Goodness, I am so sad to hear. My heart goes out to Kerry, and to you guys.

Although it is small comfort, I smile at the thought of his last few weeks being the exciting adventure of conquering such a fine new place as Sheer Brick.

Scott Sigler said...

My condolences. This is one of life's most difficult things to manage. Sammy was loved his whole life, and you provided that irreplaceable commodity as his time wound down. The fact that he got to go out with Kerry is a small but important part of the process. I held my dog Mookie at the end of her 14-year run. Kerry is lucky to have a friend like you that would provide for Sammy at such a critical time.

Podblack said...

I'm so very, very sorry Donna. How absolutely devastating. Sincere hugs to Kerry. K.

Joel Birch said...

Our heartfelt condolences to Kerry and you guys. There’s many a watery eye and quivering lip down Melbourne way, right now.

So glad the little fellow was surrounded by the perfect people to help keep him happy.

krelnik said...

So sorry. Relay my condolences to Kerry.

Brickgrrl said...

Thank you, all, for your love and compassion and shared experiences. I was privileged to bond with Sammy and I know Kerry grieves his loss the way only you pet-owners understand. She also appreciates all your comments here and it's made her day a little more bearable. Love you all.

J.C. Hutchins said...

A lovely and moving tribute.

Steve said...

How sad for you and your friend Kerry. It is a great fear of mine that I will fall to pieces when it comes to me losing either of teh SkepticPuppehs. Ted and Bronte are both very precious to me and TheWonderWife. Geo's Samll Comfort helps me prepare (by making me cry). My condolences to your friend and you.


Anonymous said...

The death of a pet leaves a huge, aching hole. We recently had to put our dog to sleep, and it hurts so much. I'm told eventually the hurt fades and you only remember the happy times. I hope this is true for all of us. In the meantime, my heart goes out to you and to Kerry. This is a beautiful tribute to Sammy. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

The death of a pet leaves a huge, aching hole. We recently had to put our dog to sleep, and it hurts so much. I'm told eventually the hurt fades and you only remember the happy times. I hope this is true for all of us. In the meantime, my heart goes out to you and to Kerry. This is a beautiful tribute to Sammy. Hugs.

catherineLd said...

The Southern Hemisphere can't wait! Thanks George! :D

catherineLd said...

Joel was right… i had a cry for sweet, sweet Sammy. xox

betsy said...

A lovely tribute to dear Sammy.

Jared said...

Shed a tear for the loss of Sammy. I will give my cat's an extra hug today and everyday.