In a bit of serendipity, Mooch came home with me on a rainy Saturday afternoon, riding in the passenger seat of a Honda, with Nirvana on the radio.
A decade later, she left home for the last time, much the same way. Kate drove and Mooch was cradled in my arms, wrapped in a blanket. I talked to her while she watched the rain on the Honda’s windows. When Nirvana came on the radio, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, and goosebumps crawled down my arms.
The decision to help her move on, to end her pain, was the right one, and the most painful decision I’ve ever had to make.
She was a wonderful, unique cat. Everyone that met her loved her, and she loved new people and new experiences.
Our last days together were good. On Thursday, I worked from home, and we spent time together on the couch. She got to eat all her favorite foods and always had little samples, despite her waning appetite. We went outside and she got to feel the grass between her toes and to watch the birds flit around the trees in our front yard. During those times, I got to see my girl again — curious, happy, and goofy. I told her I loved her, and she licked my fingers — something she did when she needed reassurance, or when I did.
On Friday night, Kate came home. I fell asleep on my side, with Kate spooning up against my back, and Mooch against my chest. I got to repeat it the next morning, too, and those are memories I’m always going to carry with me.
On Saturday afternoon, we drove to the vet. We talked to them about the diagnosis, and the pain factor, and that Mooch wasn’t really herself anymore. With heavy hearts, and a lot of tears, we opted to have her put to sleep. They took her away to install the catheter, and brought her back to us, so we could spend time with her. And I told her I loved her, and kissed her head while I cried. She licked my fingers and rubbed the sides of her face against my hand.
The vet came back when we were ready. She unmasked the catheter and got the needle put in it. I told my friend that it wasn’t going to hurt anymore, and that I loved her. She gave me a quiet meow, and when the injection started, she began licking my fingers again.
And then she was gone and the light was out of her eyes.
We held her for awhile longer, and I couldn’t stop crying, and kept thinking I felt a slight purr along her sides. The vet came back to take her again, and I made sure I kissed her head and smelled her fur one last time before she was gone.
All I have left of my baby girl is my memories and a paw print in clay. There’s some fur and whiskers around the house, and some photos in Flickr. But I can’t hold her again, can’t hear her little “laugh” noise, or fall asleep with her snuggled up in the crook of my arm. And that breaks my heart more than you can possibly imagine.
She came into my life not long after I’d moved to Philadelphia, at a time in my life where I was just starting to figure myself out and to truly grow. And so we grew together, and over the decade of her life, we were the only constants for each other. We moved to new homes, other cats came and went through our lives, and there were all sorts of upheavals, but we always had each other.
She wasn’t just a cat. For almost a third of my life, she was my best friend and my family, and I’ll always love her as much as I do right now.
Goodbye, Mooch. I miss you.
(A huge thanks to Mandy at Glimpses of Soul for her amazing photography work.)