6/17/11 – 5/4/19
There’s no easy way to view the end of another being’s last breaths. Nevertheless, in providing hospice care, we fulfill our responsibilities.
Yesterday, Alice and I drove Millie, ever complaining about our Ford Escape’s motion, to Cowlitz Animal Clinic, here in Longview, Washington. The well-regarded clinic sits on a wide commercially zoned highway with little weekend traffic. Because it was Saturday, we appeared to have the clinic almost entirely to ourselves.
A little history here: A month before we moved to Longview, Millie disappeared from our cramped Somerset West (Portland) apartment for 17 days. Somehow, our tabby feline was found by a respectable homeowner more than a mile away, a fortuitous happening.
After 18 uneventful months with us in Longview, where we kept her indoors (and to our neighbors’ delight) Alice walked the cat several times a week outside on a leash, Millie was deemed to have diabetes. Skeptical about treating her with daily insulin shots and frequent bloodwork; Millie was already down to skin and bones. Less than six weeks later, even after changing her diet from Meow Mix to Iams, she was on the doorstep of wasting away — literally.
This visit to the clinic was made tolerable by a sensitive doctor of veterinary medicine, Kayleen McLain, who shared a professional sense of grief with us, especially while trying to find a vein — any vein — to administer the needed dosage to send Millie away to a permanent dreamland.
We mourned some as we said goodbye to her spirit, but found comfort once we noticed the serene look as she passed over. We did not mourn long, because doing so would hinder Millie’s journey to “the other side.”
I once read that bonding with an animal comes with a limited contract: One of you will go before the other. After that, life goes on.
That’s probably why, at the moment we returned home, Alice cleaned up Millie’s area from visible memorabilia. Today, Alice is gardening outside, watching for hummingbirds, working up a sweat, and encouraging new life.
Millie was a great companion. We dare not weep, because we would be crying only for our loss. We will not be selfish.
Alice says, “We’ll get another cat.”