Last Wednesday afternoon, on my flight home to Oregon, my thoughts were of our sweet cat, Feather, and of the unknown number of hours remaining for us to be together. I knew they would be limited because of phone reports from my husband about her weakening condition while I was at the family reunion in Minnesota.
One cannot live with a white cat and not be reminded of that pet when looking at clouds, and, so, as the plane coasted along over the states I saw puffs of her in every floating form. I felt gratitude to be in that floating space that I envisioned Feather attaching to, and disappearing from, very soon.
I was glad my window seat was on the side of the plane where this view of Mount Hood could give me peace and strength.
Although it was not quite 6:00 p.m., the cloud cover over Portland made the night seem so near.
My shuttle ride into Salem did not leave the Portland airport until 6:45 p.m., which gave me plenty of time to gather my bag and get a double-shot latte at Starbucks. Michael met me at the shuttle drop at 8:00 p.m. and we had a fast dinner in the restaurant on site before heading home to Silverton.
Feather was not on any bed or couch or chair where she could be comfortable. Instead, she hunched under a table in the upstairs bedroom, where I laid on the floor to greet her. Crying, I thanked her for waiting for me because it was evident that she could have just as easily let go. When Michael went to bed she stayed there with him for awhile, but before long he called to me to let me know that she had cried out. I placed her in the cat box where she dutifully left a spot of urine and two tiny turds that broke my heart.
Our pattern for so many years has been my being at the computer late into the night, with Feather on my lap or, more recently, laying on the rug beside my computer chair. Wednesday night, however, I felt hyper and so did not sit, but instead unpacked and cleaned up the kitchen in between checking where and how Feather was. I was at the sink when she made her way down three stairs on the stairway just to watch me. And to tell me with her eyes that she wanted to give up but did not know what she was giving up or how to do it. At 1:00 a.m. I woke up Michael, rather beside myself in an uncharacteristic inability to decide what to do, and when he mentioned the overnight Salem Emergency Vet Clinic, whose marvelous services we have used in the past, everything fell into place. While he dressed I called the clinic to advise them that we were driving in with Feather for her to be euthanized. Feather's adoring cat companion who died in 2007 was put to sleep while cozy in a favorite wool afghan, and it was in that same afghan that we nestled Feather to ride in my lap in the dark of night. I selected a yoga music cd to play because she knew it well from all the days she was at my side during yoga practice, and she seemed soothed by it while possibly slipping in and out of consciousness. When we were only blocks from the clinic she let out two kittenish mews, which confirmed her need for release.
Michael rang the night buzzer and they let him inside, where he filled out the paperwork and paid for the euthanasia and for a private cremation (her ashes will be ready for him to pick up after work today and we will have something tangible to treasure). I cradled Feather in my arms in the car until all was ready for her. The vet and her assistant were both so kind. The clinic was hushed in the silence of night, as four loving people and one beloved and loving cat shared in that most solemn and precious of moments. And then she was gone.