Posted September 17, 2011 by
It’s looking like we are going to put our oldest cat down on Monday morning. She has been sick for a while, but has really taken a turn in the last couple of weeks.
I’ve had Lily since the week before my sixteenth birthday, which means that this past May she turned 17 years old. She has been part of my family since I still had two parents and a room and a curfew. She’s known every boy I’ve ever dated, and she’s lived in Atlanta, Vermont, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. She’s traversed the country three times over. She’s been in my life almost as long as my mother was. She’s seen me get married, become a mother, and a writer.
I don’t know how to say goodbye.
I know that this is for the best. She’s uncomfortable and getting worse all the time. But I don’t know how to say goodbye. I hate the idea of feeding her a last meal, of petting her for the last time, of glimpsing her final nap in the sunshine.
I’m crying as I write this. And I’m feeling struck by how easily grief can well up, like a lake flooding through us. As though it’s always there, just waiting to overflow given the chance.
One of the last things my father ever said to me, as he lay dying in his bedroom, was this:
Death and birth are such sweet sorrows. If there were no death you would never know how sweet life really is.
He’s right. He’s right.