The Long Goodbye

Don’t wanna close my eyes
Don’t wanna fall asleep
‘Cause I’d miss you, baby
And I don’t wanna miss a thing

– Aerosmith (I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing)

(c) Sloan Parker 2011

Saying goodbye to someone you love is never easy. Saying goodbye to someone you’ve had in your life every day for 16 years is really tough. Saying goodbye over the course of weeks and months while you provide daily care for them and their fading body takes love and courage and compassion.

I’m hoping I’ll have no shortage of all three over the coming weeks, or maybe months. I’m not sure how long my cat has left, but the end is drawing near. His kidneys have decided to stop doing their job. After one serious crash he’s still here, but the end is closer than I’d like. I’m selfish when it comes to the people and animals I love. I would like another 16 years with him. And then another 16. Then 16 more. Sadly, that’s not how life for these little dudes works out.

(c) Sloan Parker 2011

He and I are oddly close. So close I can often tell what’s going on with him with one look at him. Once he was sitting on my chest while I was in bed, he gave me a long look, and I knew something was up. I told my partner, “I don’t think he feels good.” When we got to the vet, the doc took what I said seriously until he’d examined him. No fever, nothing abnormal that he could find. He checked his mouth. Nothing. He looked at me with kindness, but like I was nuts, explaining that he couldn’t find anything until he checked his mouth one more time. He found an abscessed tooth all the way in the back. The vet just smiled and said, “You’re right. He’s not feeling well.”

(c) Sloan Parker 2011

He’s the smartest cat I’ve ever met. Too smart sometimes. He tries to run cons on me all the time. Oh, I’m not doing anything with my paw. I’m just stretching, but as soon as you turn around I’m putting my paw into that glass of milk. He’s also the cuddliest cat. He likes to give hugs (actual hugs) and sit on my lap while I write. In fact, he likes to sit with his front legs draped over my arms impeding my typing, but it’s still nice to have the company during the long hours at the keyboard writing and revising and revising some more.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with myself when he’s gone. I have two other cats, but they tend to go off on their merry way during the day, only coming to see me once in a while when they want a little attention. Or food. They never forget the food. One of them is the sweetest cat I’ve ever had and he does like to sit with me, but he really doesn’t like the typing. And my muse doesn’t like going too long without writing.

So how does one say goodbye? With compassion and love, I guess. That’s all we can do.

(c) Sloan Parker 2011

We’ve been renting more movies than we have in a long time and cuddling with him while we watch. I’ve been taking more breaks during the day to sit with him and give him some love. He’s still doing some of the little things that show me he’s here and not feeling terribly bad yet.

I guess none of us know how long we’ll have with those we love. We just have to love them as best as we can for as long as we are honored to have them in our lives.