Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Last Flight

Velma's last day
Less than three months after we lost her sister, our brave sweet cat Velma has also left this mortal coil. A year of trying to find a solution to her rampant incontinence had worn us out, and when she started protest peeing around the house right in front of our very eyes, we began to understand she’d had enough.
Because her illness was the kind that wasn’t going to kill her by itself, the decision about whether her life should continue or end was entirely in our hands. I found myself overwhelmed by the responsibility. Who was I to play God - to decide the fate of another living creature, especially one whom I loved so much. I felt like a Roman emperor deciding the fate of a gladiator with a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down.
Above all, I didn’t want it to be about me and my convenience. Certainly a year of cleaning up after Velma’s accidents and taking her to various vets and getting up in the night to check on her had taken its toll on me in terms of anxiety, sleep, and dollars. But I wasn’t prepared to let her go as long as there were options to be tried, and as long as I felt like she was still enjoying life.
People would say “You’ll know when the time is right” and I thought that was just a kindly bromide. But it turned out that I did know. As recently as Thursday, she had a good day – full of joyous purring and sun-basking and giving the scratching-post a good seeing to. But it didn’t last. At 5am on Friday morning as I stroked Velma’s head after cleaning up after another series of leaks and pees, it became crystal clear to me that she deserved better and that neither I nor veterinary medicine could give that to her.
So yesterday morning, a gray day with an inch of snow and a coating of ice on the ground, Mike and I took Velma on her last journey. At the local vets’ office, the doctor gave her a sedative and handed her to me, calm and spacey and wrapped in a blanket like a newborn. We took our time saying our goodbyes as she looked up at both of us with her lovely yellow-green eyes, the pupils dark and dilated. When we were ready, the doctor came in and slipped the needle into the catheter, and peacefully and quietly Velma slipped away from her broken-down but still beautiful little body.
Now we can take the waterproof covers off our furniture and take away the litter boxes that were in almost every room. We can sleep through the night and we can plan the weekend trips we’ve wanted to take for a long time. And above all, I’m looking forward to having more time and psychic energy to get back to writing. But for now, all I can do stare out at the wintry sky and mourn.

Never More Will the Wind by H.D. (from Hymen)

Never more will the wind
Cherish you again
Never more will the rain. 
Never more
Shall we find you bright
In the snow and wind.

The snow is melted,
The snow is gone,
And you are flown;

Like a bird out of our hand,
Like a light out of our heart,
You are gone.


  1. I am so sorry, Fiona. This post is a lovely, moving tribute to Velma. What a sad loss, though it sounds like you did right by her. I hope another kitty companion will find you and Mike before too long.