The Floodgates Have Opened

As I sit and write this post, I can barely see the computer screen. The last 12 hours have been nothing less than a nightmare. In prior posts I talked about Alex, one of my two 16-year-old cats. She’s been struggling with chronic renal failure and in spite of our efforts, home treatments and the care of a great veterinarian, my wife and I had to do the right thing last night and put her down. 

I’ve been on this planet for more years than I care to remember, and I’ve lost many loved ones throughout my life. My mother died on April 27 of 2008 and as strange as it sounds, since her death I haven’t shed a tear. I can’t begin to tell you how guilt ridden I’ve felt because no matter how dearly I loved my mother and how grief stricken I’ve been, I haven’t been able to cry.  I’ve read that when we lose someone close our grief is often overpowered by a self-preservation instinct. Sometimes the impact of losing someone you love hibernates for weeks or sometimes years before it hits us. And in many cases, the trigger that unleashes these suppressed emotions is an unrelated event. 

Well, since last night at 7:15 PST, when the vet injected Alex with a drug that put her to sleep forever, I haven’t been able to stop crying. I have never wept like this in my life. At times it feels totally uncontrollable. I didn’t realize until early morning that Alex’s death was the trigger that finally allowed me to suffer the grief of losing my mother last year. My tears are for Alex, because I loved her dearly, but they’re also the welled-up tears that I’ve been unable to purge since my mother’s death. 

When we brought Alex to the vet’s last night for a follow-up appointment to determine if the home treatments had lowered her toxic levels, we were hopeful that she’d made a little progress. We weren’t expecting miracles, but even a marginal decrease in her creatinine levels would have given us hope. When the vet delivered the bad news and told us that her levels had gone from 8.3 to 11, we knew that the time had come to do the right thing. 

So, reluctantly and painfully, we knew that Alex had silently suffered long enough and that it was time for her to leave us and go to Kitty Heaven. The doctor left us alone with Alex in the private room where she would be put to sleep. In my heart, I was certain that Alex knew what was coming, that she had reached the point of no return. It was as if she couldn’t get close enough to us. And the way she looked at us, broke my heart and my spirit. She snuggled her head against us and the look on her face was pathetic. 

I’ve never had to put down a pet before and didn’t know what to expect. When the doctor came in she explained the procedure in great detail so we would be prepared. As we stroked her silky fur, the vet injected her with a drug that almost instantly put her into a peaceful sleep. Then she injected the lethal drug that would end her life. It took no more than 15 seconds for her heart to stop. She lay there, quiet and peaceful. And I’m certain she didn’t feel any pain. We stayed with her for a while and the doctor tried to comfort us. But the moment my wife and I got into our car, every welled up tear, every emotion, erupted to the surface. We were both a mess. 

I cry. I remember. I feel an unbelievable sense of loss. Through this loyal, loving cat who was daddy’s little girl for 16 years, I was able to finally feel grief for my mother. Thank you, Alex. And thank you Mom for understanding why I haven’t been able to cry. I love you both with all my heart.  

 

 

 

 

18 Comments

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18 responses to “The Floodgates Have Opened

  1. Eleanor

    Dear Daniel & Jennifer,

    I am so sorry to hear that you lost your beloved Alex. I know the pain of holding and seeing a 4-legged child leave this world, and I am still trying to deal with losing my Mom. I hope you can find comfort in knowing that Alex is sitting on your Mom’s lap right now and both are free of pain and suffering.

  2. poolagirl

    You did one of the hardest things anyone will ever face. You did the right thing by releasing her. Please know that I am carrying you in my heart with tenderness and understanding. Let me know if there is anything I can do. Blessings, my friend.

  3. Raveena

    What a sweet kitty Alex was, to let you feel so human. Our pets give us the ability to love so unconditionaly and so fully that they teach us feelings that we wouldn’t otherwise know. We are so lucky to have them in our lives for the short time they choose to have us around.

    You know that I had to put Mister down last week, and I don’t remember the last time I sobbed with so much pain in my heart. Aaron, my husband also cried, and I had never seen him cry before. Our kitties are our treasures.

    I wanted to tell you about a strange coincidence about Mister. A while before we found out he was sick, I had purchased Lion King tickets. He passed on 11/06 and the show was on 11/07. We didn’t want to go because we weren’t in the mood, but we went because we already purchased the tickets. I cried through the whole thing. The first song that opens the play is Circle of Life, and that just tore me up. I just picked up Mister’s ashes on Monday, and the envelope with his death certificate said Circle of Life Pet Creamatorium. The date that he had been creamated was 11/7, the day we watched the play. I think there is more to this than just coincidence. I think he was trying to tell me that everything is going to be ok.

    Something that helped Aaron and I with Mister’s passing was to donate kitty food to PAWS in San Diego. We got two big bags of kitty food at Costco and I donated all of the prescribed kitty food that Mister wouldn’t eat. They were so thankful because their pantry is bare, and there are many low income families and elderly folks that have pets that they cannot feed. PAWS helps with this. I found Mister homeless living under a home, so I donated the food in his honor.

    Maybe because Alex helped with the grieving of your mom, you can find a way to honor both of them. From one broken heart to another, Raveena

    • Daniel

      Thank you, Raveena. I knew in my heart that you could clearly understand what I’m going through. I had planned to make a contribution to a worthy pet-related organization. But I have to wait until my emotions calm down.

  4. Diane Dolan

    Dan and Jennifer,

    I know the pain. When Mike and I had to have Mittens put down, we both sobbed uncontrollably in the doctor’s office. Mike was going through chemo and radiation at that time and was so ill. I don’t know if he was crying for the loss of his faithful pal or if he knew in his heart what lay ahead for him. He never recovered from that loss emotionally. When we subsequently got Peyton, Mike would say “He’s no Mittens”.

    Fast forward – the hardest thing I have ever had to do was to help my husband approach and finally cross that line into eternity… also the most important thing I have ever done. They are all waiting…

    • Daniel

      Over the years I have had several cats and loved every one of them. But Alex was special–she was my little girl, always wanting to sit on my lap and cuddle. I don’t mean to compare this loss with the unimaginable pain you felt when Mike passed, but we all deal with losing a loved one in our own way. And who can measure another’s pain? Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. Ken

    I am so sorry to hear about your cat Dan. The suffering is over. You did the right thing. Crying can be the most heart wrenching yet cathartic thing we can do as beings of light and truth. Go now…be at peace…

  6. Roomie

    I am so sorry Daniel and Jennifer. I know how hard this is. I know that deep down you knew that the time was very close. You were totally in tune with Alex and knew what she was communicating. You did the right thing even though it was the hardest choice you’ve ever made. You listened to her. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to meet and care for your beloved Alex. We shared special moments. She never once hid behind the couch or chair.

    When I was there one day I heard a knock at the door. To my surprise it was a flame point siamese that looked exactly like Wally, my cat that I had to put down in 1993. I went outside and he came up to me in the exact way Wally did. I could have sworn it was Wally coming to say hi. He acted like he knew me and we were best friends. It was a surreal happening.

    So don’t be surprised if through the years, you get a visit from her. This was not the first time Wally has come to visit since we parted so many years ago. There were other sitings previously.

    I hold you all in warm thoughts and prayers. I’m here if there is anything you need.

    Take care……….
    love , pam

    • Daniel

      I’m glad you had the opportunity to spend some time with my little girl. As an animal lover, I know that you can relate to what I’m going through. Thanks for your support.

  7. YOUR SIS, RO

    Dan and Jennifer, I am so sorry to hear about Alex.I’m sitting here reading your blog, and of course, crying along with you. I also feel so bad for Ben. They have been best buddies for 16 years. Poor little guy.
    I’ll never forget putting Roxy down, just like you will never forget Alex. Nothing I say will help you right now, but its our job as pet owners not to let them suffer, so you guys did the right thing.
    As for not shedding a tear for Mom, everyone grieves in different ways. She knew you loved her.
    Im sure she is up above taking good care of Alex, Roxy, and Lacy

    Take Care

    Love your Sis

    • Daniel

      I left you a phone message, trying to wish you a happy birthday. But I’m afraid the words barely slipped off my tongue before I had to hang up. I’ve never felt so devastated. I knew when Mom died and I didn’t emotionally react the way I should have that a day of reckoning was coming. Alex’s death broke the dam.

  8. Raveena

    Dan, please go to this website: http://www.indigo.org/rainbowbridge_ver2.html

    It helps me every time I loose a pet…but it never gets any easier.

  9. Diane Dolan

    Dan and Jennifer,

    Also, May I Go by Susan Jackson is very comforting. It is written from the pet’s point of view and is beautiful. I hope it helps you through this difficult time.

  10. Kris Peters

    Dad & Jen,
    I’m so very sorry to hear of Alex’s passing. You never truly know how dear to your heart a pet is until you have to do such a painful and brave thing. You did the right thing & I’m sure you’re so grateful that she didn’t suffer long. Rest in peace, Alex Annechino.

    • Daniel

      As a cat lover, you know how I feel. But I can’t begin to tell you how painful this is. I’ve never felt so completely overwhelmed with grief. When you get a chance, Google Rainbox Bridge and look for the poem.

  11. YOUR SIS, RO

    I got your message, thanks. Give me a call when you feel up to it.

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