Wednesday, September 21, 2016
And then there were two...
Grendel died on September 6.
In the six weeks from when his sickness started to his death, my life was in turmoil. Multiple vet visits and attempts at cancer-fighting supplements didn't slow anything down. It was hard to get him to take anything other than his prednisolone, which he eagerly downed in a pill pocket. He wouldn't touch food that had anything added to it and the capsules were too big to make him swallow. In the last days, he wouldn't even take the prednisolone. I had to crush it, liquefy it, and fight to give it to him orally with a syringe.
Grendel was a fighter. The cancer was already terminal before it was discovered. He'd suffered with it for a while without ever giving on that he was sick. Even in his final days, he seemed so determined to carry on as if nothing was wrong. He so wanted to be back to normal, but his body wouldn't cooperate. I thought he'd fade away until nothing remained but a shell, but it was the opposite. Indomitable to the end, Grendel remained strongly present; it was the shell that faded away.
He was terribly bloated from the cancer. He could walk only in short spurts. He lost nearly all of his prodigious appetite; by the end he would only lap a bit of milk from a saucer.
I'd resolved to let him die naturally at home, but by the afternoon of Labor Day, he was hunkered down just under my bed, where he'd been all day. I knew he was in pain. I lay there next to him weeping and praying and found myself crying out to God, "I don't want him to suffer any more." Later that evening I found someone who could come to my home in the morning and put him to sleep. I couldn't bear the idea of taking him away to die on a cold table at the vet's. It was the first time I admitted to myself that he could die.
I awoke Tuesday morning with foreboding. Grendel had gone downstairs during the night. I'd been unsure that he would even live through it. The morning was a bit rainy - weeping like me - and cold. I made a fire and to my surprise Grendel lay down by it for a bit. Maebh came and sat with him for a while. I'm glad they had a chance to say goodbye. She loved him and they often snuggled by the fire.
When the vet, Sarah, came, Grendel had gone down to sit in the foyer. I wept as I carried him upstairs. Sarah asked where I wanted us to be; I wasn't sure. I brought him to the couch where we used to sit together so often, but Grendel crawled back to the fire. I think he chose the place. He loved being by the fire. I have so many pictures of him there.
I wept and held him when Sarah gave him the sedative. I told him how much I loved him. I thanked him for choosing me. I thanked him for all the joy (and trouble) he'd given me for 10 years. When he was out, Sarah gave him the drugs and I held him until his heart stopped.
I can't begin to describe all that he meant to me or the desolation his death has been. I never realized how much he filled the house until he was gone from it. There are memories of him in every room, every nook and cranny. It's no consolation that I can now eat unmolested.
Grendel loved me as much as I loved him. My ex-GF Lorrin told me how he would watch me as I moved around the house and how he'd sit and stare at me while I wasn't looking. When I sat on the couch with my left elbow propped up on some cushions, he would come and curl up in my left arm and purr unceasingly. Those were moments of bliss I'll never forget.
He was always excited to see me come home. He knew the sound of my car and I would often be driving up and see him pop into the window of the den upstairs, stare at me wide-eyed, and then pop down and be at the door three floors below by the time I opened it. Even if I took him by surprise, I'd no sooner step in the door than he'd be running downstairs going, "Wah wah wah wah wah!"
We'd play hide 'n' seek. I'd see him peering at me from around a corner and I'd slowly move towards him until I got close when he'd run off to another corner to hide and peer. I'd do the same with him. When he saw me peering around a corner at him, he'd come running at me.
He gave me presents. I have two cat toys that are long, snaky fabric thingies on a wand. They were the first cat toys I got for him. He'd lost interest in actually playing with them years ago, but he used to carry them around and place them near where I was or where I would be. I could hear him coming to me through the house meowing with one in his mouth. It was a strange, muffled wa-AUUUGH sound that he'd make. All through the years I would come home to find them left at the top of the stairs or I'd get up to find them at the bedroom door or they'd appear outside my den while I was there working.
There was never a cat like Grendel. There never will be again. My world is diminished by his loss.
Goodbye Grendel. Goodbye old friend. You were gone too soon from my life, but you will always be in my heart even as the memories of you grow more distant.
We are again three. Much to my own surprise, I adopted a new cat a week after Grendel died. But that's a story for another blog post.