My very wonderful cat, Emily, died gracefully in my arms a little after four in the morning on Saturday, June 20, 1998. When I got home from work on Friday she was very weak and pretty much unable to get around on her own. She welcomed my cradling and petting her, but she was not purring. From around 7:00 to 8:00 she was perched in a comfy place on the couch. She lapped up a little water with the help of my holding her up and lowering her head such that her mouth could just reach. She did take an initial gulp at food made available the same way, but quickly backed off as if to wearily say "I don't think so."
After that while on the couch, Emily started to mew a longing little mew. Soon Young and I were at that time both petting her on and off and offering her water and so forth. (I was managing to do a little eating of my own. Soon Young had already dined.) Finally, after trying a visit to her box, setting her up for more water, and just petting her and so forth, I started to worry that this longing little meow was her way of saying "I'm in pain", and maybe it was going to become time to call Dr. Kevorkian.
But then I picked her up and held her again. And that was what Emily had wanted. She stopped meowing and contentedly settled into my arms and stared deeply into my eyes. She wanted that connection. She wasn't saying for me to do anything except for hold her, pet her, talk to her, and be close. Well, perhaps she could have done without the talking, but I think it was good for me.
Emily was losing ground. Her body was letting go. She knew it; I knew it. Soon Young was supportive and wanting to know if she should sit close or leave us be. She did everything to make me comfortable and free to just be with Emmy. She then went to do some of her own writing about Emily. (Perhaps to eventually be posted on this page?)
At about 11:00, just before Soon Young came out to again join us for a bit, Emily did a little stretch and a turn of her head that seemed to take her to a new stage. Whereas for hours she had been intently staring into my eyes (even to the point of making a little noise and moving her head to grab my attention and bring me back to her if for a moment I laid my head back or looked away), now at this new stage her eyes held only a vacantness that seemed to stare off to nowhere. My guess is that her vision kind of cut out or became inconsequential to her. But she was still there and responsive in every other way.
I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that for this entire time there were many sighs, groans, and heavy breaths that seemed so much to be the 'settling of contents' that signals the approach of death. (Not that I am an expert. Talk to that Kevorkian guy.) There certainly was a lot of slow, letting go.
Probably around 1:00 or so I did manage to lay back on the couch and keep Emily cradled/perched upon my chest. I probably slept until 3:00, at which time I woke up in need of a quick visit to the restroom. I had figured that I could reasonably manage such a visit when need be and still keep holding my dear little cat. As it was, I decided to just situate her on the couch and dash off and return in a minute or so. When I got back and again took her into my arms, she had reached yet another stage.
Of course I worry that my short absense prompted this next stage, and very likely it did. Emily was, at that point, kind of having some tiny spasm type deals that would cause her body to slightly jerk and twitch a few times a minute. My sense was that it was from fear and feeling alone, but others have advised me it's a common physical stage of dying. Regardless, I held her closely, pet her tenderly and talked to her to reassure her that I was right there and that I was sorry I'd left her. It took close to a half hour, but eventually the spasms subsided.
Then there was another while of lots of big sighs, slight groans, and so forth. At the end there was a little gagging type reflex and a little kick and stretch of the hind legs. And then there was stillness. Emily was gone and I was left holding her worn out, exhausted little body.
Overwhelmingly, at that point my feeling was of a great gratitude for having had such a special and close companion. Of course in a big way Grief soon took a front row seat in my psyche, and now an overall sadness rings out for the palpable emptyness that seems to stalk the halls and rooms of this house where Emily once roamed and played. Indeed that emptyness extends to everywhere I go! It's the world; now the world is a slightly emptier place. (Is this corny or what?)
Anyway, life goes on and all that. Emily will forever be alive and resiliently cute and furry in my heart.
On Friday, the 19th, I had finally plopped a photo and the following words up onto this Emily web page. Initially it was intended to allow a dear friend and Mac user to see a couple PC photos that just weren't happening via email attachments. Anyway, what follows is that original 'Emily Update':
==== from Friday, June 19, 1998 ====
I have always contended that Emily is The Best Cat In The World. For me this always has been, and always will be, true. Friends of Emily no doubt know she is ailing big time these days. May 28, 1998 was her 17th birthday, and soon cancer will be sending her to the big kitty box in the sky. Sob.
I'm certain that after this day comes, in times of longing, an attentive ear attuned to The Great Invisible Life Force (sometimes called God or Nature) will be able to hear her distinctive little half-meow, half-voice "Meh".
I'm not sure how attentive I'll be to updating this page, but as of today, 6/19/98, Emmy is still eating small amounts, drinking water, and purring while being pet. She is quite weak and not able to move around very well. Often her makeup is smudged.
Established: June 19, 1998
Last update: July 7, 1998
(new location and new links below: January 21, 2004)
Go to Banana Endeavors Home Page
Go to The Metrognome Home Page and Rest Stop