Now that we're back from the vet and the pet crematory, I'm aware of a strange emptiness in the house. Keith is sitting in the dark, playing his guitar. I was here in my office, making a couple of phone calls, and noticing the emptiness.
Yes, we have other pets, whom I love dearly, but Scooter had been with us for 19 years. That's almost our entire married life.
He's not in here, sleeping on his mat on the floor. I don't hear him breathing or purring or yowling. I won't have to check under desks or dressers to make sure he's only sleeping and hasn't quietly hidden himself to die.
I've been thinking too about things I've learned from Scooter. He, Pixel and Brownie were the first cats I ever had. As Scooter aged drastically this past year, he became increasingly difficult to handle. He had ear problems and wouldn't let me near his ears. He could be extremely elusive and as wriggly as an eel when we cleaned and dressed his neck. He wasn't very used to me handling his paws, so clipping his thickened and grimy claws was an ordeal for all involved. What has this translated into? Well, much to their chagrin, I've been cleaning everyone elses' ears on a very regular basis. I'm wrestling them and trimming claws. I've wiped a kitty butt or two. I don't want to have another elderly cat that I'm scared to handle. Scooter wasn't used to being handled in such a manner, and I was very afraid that I would hurt him. By the time the next one reaches 18, he or she is going to be used to being handled in such a way. This way there won't be any hyperventilating that I'm daring to trim a claw. I won't get attacked for looking into an ear or even using a tissue to clean out some wax. Knowledge and wisdom are cumulative, but sometimes I really wish I could use a Vulcan mind meld and just learn it all the easy way.
I really want to thank everyone for their support through this long, drawn out process. Your support has been very helpful to me. Cancer is a horrible death for all involved, both patients and their families. It doesn't matter if the cancer patient is a relative or a pet, either way it's still tough. We've been through both types - family members with cancer and pets with cancer. Some are in remission while others passed away. All of it is painful.
One thing to take away from this is that every experience enriches our lives. Right now the pain is fresh, but what I'll remember are the good times. The times I was sick with fever, and Scooter slept on top of me for days. (Yes, I know. Cats love a feverish human being. It's their own personal heater.) Scooter who would come look at me with a glint in his eye before hopping beside me on the sofa, doing the "flop and roll" where he would end up with his belly in the air, waiting for me to rub it so he could wrestle with me. Scooter running wild eyed to the waterbed we once had with the upholstery platform. He would get on his back, pulling himself with his claws all around the bed. He and Keith would play for hours. Scooter attacking Brownie when he was young. Scooter attacking Grey because she followed him for too long. Taking Scooter to the vet, and having Dr. Hyatt ask me if I was feeding him hamburgers (Scoots liked to eat, and it showed). As the memories of today fade, those are what I'll remember.