Monday, October 18, 2010

The long road home.

WARNING: This is a post about Gus' last two days. It will be sad and you will probably cry. I suggest you read it in a time and place when this is okay for you.
Here it goes....

In my last post, I talked about Gus and told his story. I said that I knew the time to say goodbye was almost here. I have felt this way before, but that time I was right.

The last six months have been very difficult. Gus' diagnosis was a tough one. We knew there would be good days and bad days. We knew that it was a matter of time and we needed to focus on quality of life. The days were numbered and we had switched from trying to save Gus' life to making sure his transition from this life to the next was as comfortable and full of love as possible.

Gus had decided that the upstairs front room, my workout room, was where he felt most safe and most comfortable. The sun was best in this room and he sure got every ounce of sunlight possible out of each day. He was always laying in the sun (when it was out!). Sometimes he would lay under the desk, so we put a big blanket there for him. Sometimes he would lay in the closet and sometimes he would lay on his "hospice bed"

The hospice bed was a comfy pillow. This pillow was one that Trevor bought a few years ago. Our chiropractor had recommended it to help with Trevor's neck. It was ergonomically designed. Trevor loved this pillow, but only used it a few nights because Gus loved it too. The pillow became ergonomically INcorrect when there was a cat on it along side your head. The pillow has been on the floor next to the bed for a few years now. Trevor put it in the front room, right outside the closet for Gus. Gus loved it. He would always go back to it.

He would come out of the front room to eat and use the litter box. Sometimes he would wander into the bedroom or bathroom, but mostly he was in the front room.

Every morning I would get up and go find Gus. I would lay down with him and ask him how he was doing. How did he feel? This was a gauge for how the day would go. I would visit with him many times during the day. Then, always, at night before bed, I would find him and see how he felt.

I would tell him that if he needed me during the night, he knew where I was. I would tell him that when he was ready, he needed to let me know. There were many times that I didn't think he would make it another day. Many times I thought he wouldn't make it through the weekend. But he always perked back up. I would tell Trevor "I think he's just about ready" and Trevor would say "no, he's just upset because there is no sun" or "he's just having a bad day". He would say "I saw Gus making his Christmas list", he was convinced he would live through the end of the year.

Friday morning, when I noticed that Gus was having an issue with his back leg, I called Trevor up to see. He was quiet. We decided to see how the day progressed. I worked out that morning and Gus sat with me. When I was done, I was on the floor stretching. Gus came over and got up on my lap. I asked him if he was ready to go. He looked up at me and rubbed his face against mine. I took that as a yes. Friday night, Gus got up on the bed and slept up against my neck, my favorite place to have him. I could feel his heartbeat and his breath.

Saturday morning, I could tell he wasn't any better. I told Trevor that I thought he was ready to go and Trevor said he thought so too. I knew it would be time when Trevor agreed. This was the first time that he agreed. I called and made the appt from 6:30 that night. I figured I would lay in the sun with Gus all day long.

Trevor headed to work and I stayed home. I worked out that morning because Gus loves to workout with me. He loved it this day too - just sat and watched me. Then, when the sun started coming through the window, he wanted up there. He tried and couldn't do it, so I helped him.

I figured I would run to the store, so we would have some food in the house for after he was gone. That way we wouldn't have to do it later. I was at the store, wandering around and a wave of panic came over me. Gus had 6 hours left in his life....why was I at the grocery store? Why was I not home with him? I started crying and realized that I had to get home as soon as I could so I could be with him.

I got home and he was still sleeping in the sun. I didn't leave his side the rest of the day. As the sun moved, he wanted down onto the floor, so that is where I put him. He would get up, every now and then, and head to the litter box. He had a tough time walking and could barely hold himself up in the litter box. It was like he was telling me that it was the right time - showing me that he didn't have any fight left in him. He got up once and I watched him walk and I had a moment of peace. At this second, I knew it was the right decision. There was no more doubt. It was time.

I had told him over and over how much I loved him. The last six months were full of conversations about our life together. We would always look at me and purr when we talked about our life together. He never seemed to get tired of remembering with me.

My biggest concern was that when the time came, Gus would be scared. I didn't want that at all. I kept telling him that it would be over soon. I told him that he would soon be with Wookie, eating pizza. I told him that his tail was waiting for him. His tail was removed a few years back and I always told him that when he got to heaven, he'd have his tail again. I told him the same thing I told Wookie before he died - "we will see you again, for you it will seem like a second has passed, for us it will be a lifetime".

Trevor came home around 5 and sat with us for a bit. By this time, the sun was fading and Gus had curled up in my hair. One last time.
I knew it was time to go. Gus was laying on my sweatshirt. I told the other cats to come say goodbye. Norwyn and Daisy both came into the front room and sat down. Animals know and they surely knew that Gus was sick. I felt like they were saying goodbye and telling him that they would take care of use. I wrapped him up in my sweatshirt and carried him down to the car.

Gus always loved to ride in the car and watch the scenery. He was alert on the ride there and watched the world go by out the window. It occurred to me that we have made probably 500 trips to vet with this cat over the years. There were many times that I was worried it would be the last. This time, it really was the last.

I carried Gus into the vet. I don't know how they are able to do people say goodbye. It must be so difficult. There were lots of tears, the vet was crying, the vet tech was crying, the girls at the front desk too. It made it seem more personal and I appreciated that.

Normally, when the vet comes in the room, Gus buries his head in my arms. This time, he did not. In fact, he looked at her like "its about time" and he laid his head down. Again, I knew he was ready and I was at peace with our decision. We said we were ready and then it was over. It was so fast. I had been saying goodbye for so long and then it seemed like I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. How can that be? It was such a strange feeling. Anyone who has ever been through this knows exactly what I mean. It is the most horrible, empty feeling. Even the right decision is not an easy one.

We came home and had pizza for dinner, because we were sure that Gus and Wookie were having pizza too. Pizza was Wookie's favorite and I told him that in heaven, pizza grew like carrots in the ground and you can have it whenever you want. Surely, he would share that with Gus.

And so its over. I miss him terribly. I am tired of crying, but can't stop. I told Trevor that I don't know who I am without Gus. I can't remember who I was before him and I don't know what to do now that he is gone. We have 6 other pets and I do love every one of them, but I miss my Gussie. Every second of every day, I miss him.

We've been through it before and I know it gets easier, that it will hurt less and less as time goes on. I've said it before and I'll say it now...he was my best friend. I hate how his life ended, but I am thankful that I was able to love him. I know that he knew how much we loved him. There is no doubt in my mind that he knew and he loved us right back. He knew he was lucky. He waited for me, all those years ago. He knew I would come and that our lives would be better for knowing each other. I will never forget him.

And from one of my favorite Bon Jovi songs...."when you get to the gates and the angels sing, go to the place where the church bells ring. You know I'll come running, running to find you...."

1 comment:

Leana said...

Oh Tracey, I'm so sorry. ((hugs))