Many of you follow me on social media and already know my sad news. For those of you who don’t I’ll just rip the band aid off and tell you: my sweet Mason, my cat of 17 years, died peacefully at home on Sunday. It’s something I’ve known was coming, his health has been deteriorating for a while due to kidney troubles, but I was not ready. Frankly, I’m not sure I ever could have been ready.
I know that we were fortunate that his final decline was rapid. On Friday he was in my lap most of the day, purring contentedly while I was knitting or reading, protesting when I’d set him to my side because I had to get up or change positions. Jackie was with us in the evening while his parents attended a wedding and Mason happily ate the food that Jack threw on the floor during dinner. He let Jack pet him and he spent the better part of the night in Dale’s lap. In other words, it was a normal day at home with my kitty.
On Saturday, though, he just wasn’t himself. He didn’t eat and drank very little water. He was walking a little off kilter and he spent a fair amount of time under the dining room table rather than in front of the wood stove as he usually would. I was concerned and considered that perhaps this was the beginning of the end. I even told Sean, when we had dinner together that night, that I had a bad feeling. I cuddled with Mason before bed Saturday night and had a lot of apprehension when I got up on Sunday morning, wondering how I would find him. He was worse but still sat and waited for me outside the bathroom door like usual. He wouldn’t touch food or water and he was having difficulty walking. I told Dale when he got up that I thought this was it and that we might be having to make a difficult decision in the next day or so.
As it turned out, Mason had his own time frame. I held him for a long time in the late morning. He allowed it but after thirty minutes or so he attempted to get down. I helped him off the couch and he went over by the wood stove and stretched out. His breathing was slow but he didn’t seem to be in pain, just maybe uncomfortable. He attempted to get up every now and then but just couldn’t. I sat on the floor with him and petted him and talked to him and told him it was a good day to die, that he could go and be with Dixie, that I would love him and miss him forever. I eventually left the room to go in the kitchen. I peeked in at him and he lifted his head and looked at me and when I came back, not more than a minute or two later, I just knew he was gone. I’m beating myself up that I wasn’t in the room with him as he took his last breath, that I wasn’t stroking him and talking to him, but I can’t change it and I just have to accept it.
We wrapped him in one of my old flannel nightgowns and some quilt scraps and put him in a box with treats and a ball of yarn. We buried him in the backyard next to his old buddy Dixie. We toasted him as the good and loving and faithful cat that he was. And we cried.
Honestly, I feel like I haven’t stopped crying since. I see him in every corner of this house. I look for him under the dining room table and behind the wood stove. I wait for him to jump up on my lap when I sit down on the couch and to read or knit. I long to pick him up, to stroke his soft fur and hear him purr against my cheek.
This sadness, this mourning, this grief . . . it’s the price we pay for loving well and completely. It’s worth it and goodness knows that cat brought me a lot of joy. I miss him like hell but I smile when I think of the connection he and I had. I’ve had cats before and a beloved dog but there was something truly special between Mason and I. Now I just wish he could be here to help me through this sadness like he has so many times before when I’ve needed him by my side.
Goodbye, kitty of my heart. Tell Dixie we said hey.