Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vigil

Dear friends, this is what you might call a premonitory note. I write it here with Scotty, my orange tabby lover-boy, by my side.


Scotty, my stud-muffin, in 2006

I know that many of you are keeping more serious, human vigils. I know of your battles and trials. But I must ask that you also keep Scotty and me in your prayers.

I’ve used here a photo from a while back. I do not want to post a current photograph of Scotty. He has lost too much weight. His eyes are too sunken. His coat has lost its sheen. He is too unsteady on his feet. I am too worried.

Scotty turned 19 in April. He came into my life as a tiny kitten when was living in Atlanta. He has lived through most of my professional career … through most of my whole adult life. He’s the only one who has been with me through all of it.

He stayed with me when my life went topsy-turvy and I moved to Philadelphia in 1996 … and then to Missouri in 1998. In those two years, we lived in at least 4 different homes. But he hung in there. Back then, it was just Scotty, Shug, and me. You may remember that I lost Shug in 2008.

In a nutshell … Scotty has stayed with me from the dawn of my professional life into what feels like its dusk. Sometimes it feels like he is my oldest, most steadfast friend.

This evening, browsing through my blog, I was reminded of what a friend said a few years ago. She reminded me of that Gospel passage that reads something like, "Having loved them … he loved them to the end." My friend reminded me what a great honor it is to love my cat even to the end.

A few years ago, Scotty became seriously ill. He spent about 10 days in the vet’s ICU. I visited him every morning and evening, holding him, whispering to him … calling him back to life, it seemed to me. My vet didn’t expect him to come back, but he did, and she still calls him her “miracle kitty.”

Scotty became diabetic, and I have attended to that. If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, you may remember the frustration I felt when my right hand was paralyzed and I needed to take his glucose readings and give him insulin.

In short, Scotty and I have been together through thick and through thin … when he was frail and when I was disabled. While others have come and gone, Scotty has been the constant.

But I do not think I can call him back to life this time.

In the past month, I have begun to realize he is failing. I have spent as much time with him as I can … as close to him as I can. I have showered as much love on him as I can.

But this weekend, when I bring him to lie with me on the sofa, he soon leaves me to hide again under the guest bedroom bed. He does so on very wobbly legs. … And when I cradle him in my arms, I realize his breath has That Smell. Some of you know That Smell. It’s the smell that tells you that your beloved friend’s systems are shutting down.

I have been saying that I wanted to keep Scotty with me as long as his life had pleasure. Tonight, I am beginning to question whether that time has come – whether perhaps the suffering or misery is now outweighing the pleasure. He comes to me often now with a plaintive “meow” that sounds markedly different to me than his usual “meow.” It sounds mournful. Is it a request for cuddling? I certainly respond by holding him and loving him. Or is it a plea that I let him go? I do not know.

I will confess this selfishly: I have observed his decline for a few weeks now. And I have neglected to take him to the vet. Mind you, the vet and I have had such conversations that I know there’s nothing she can do to “fix” him. Taking Scotty to the vet means handing him over to death. I’ve known that for weeks, and I’ve therefore delayed it. My schedule has been such that I have had an excuse every week. For I know that the day I take him to the vet will be his last trip there. And I know that I’m going to be a complete wreck for days afterwards. I will be saying “goodbye” to my last, most stalwart, most faithful companion.

As I have written this, I have been sobbing deeply at times. Sobbing even before I make the odious appointment with the vet. If I am weeping this much prospectively, I shudder to think how I will grieve after the fact when I lose my old friend.

And I suppose that is why I am writing tonight – so that when/if Scotty dies, I can simply announce the fact and refer you to this.

Scotty has been the best, most longsuffering companion I have had in the ups and downs … the tumults of my life over the past two decades. If – or, as it now seems, when – I lose him, something very deep and intense will be lost.

39 Comments:

Blogger JCF said...

Oh, {{{Lisa}}}. :-(

Prayers for your Scotty . . . and knowing when to let him go (I hear Catnip Heaven is glorious!)

Hugs & Prayers to you two (that's all I got).

9/19/2010 10:48 PM  
Blogger Roberta Grey said...

Having walking in your shoes a few of times with various family members, my prayers are with you and Scotty for comfort and a peaceful passing. We had to make that dreadful appointment for our Mario - a loving friend whom we helped with his birthing and shared our ups and downs for 13 years. Incredibly difficult as it was, we shared a heavenly peace in the room as he passed. Knowing that there was no more pain, no more suffering, no more shortness of breath, difficulty in eating and he looked into our eyes as he lay in Ron's lap while the Dr. administered the injection with a look of thankfulness for releasing him from this world. Ironically, our kitty-cat, Ms. Alexis whom we assumed to be close to 20 and slowing down, passed the following day of natural causes on her own. We knew that their combined spirits kept them going and they helped each other to the other side. I can only hope to beleive that we will be reunited with all those we have loved and who have loved us in paradise, and Scotty will, as our Mario and Alexis are now preparing their spaces in our mansion in heaven.

9/19/2010 11:33 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Prayers surrounding you and Scotty. So hard.

9/19/2010 11:59 PM  
Blogger susan s. said...

I'm so sorry, LIsa. Prayers for you and Scotty.

9/20/2010 12:10 AM  
OpenID eighthsacrament said...

Oh, Lisa. I read that with my 13ish tabby sprawled across me. We've been through a lot together and she is the oldest cat I've ever had (I think you know how it goes when you live in the country...). I have no idea how I will handle it when she is no longer warm and fuzzy on my lap.

Many prayers from our end, for it is never easy to lose a companion. Any chance you can get an early St. Francis blessing?

9/20/2010 12:20 AM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

I have no sage advise. Just prayers.

9/20/2010 1:29 AM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

I am weeping with you, Lisa. Prayers for both of you...

Love,
Doxy

9/20/2010 6:25 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Deep, deep thanks, my friends. I feel your support.

8thSac, good idea. I think I'll plan to take Scotty to Shariya+ before going to the vet. She does "get it" about our animal companions.

I didn't sleep much last night, and now much get ready for work. I'll be able to read your comments during the day, but cannot post 'til after work.

I am truly grateful.

9/20/2010 6:59 AM  
Blogger +clumber said...

Oh Lisa! Canine prayers added as well....

9/20/2010 7:07 AM  
Blogger Hilary said...

I'm so sorry Lisa. I too have had to be in your shoes more than once, and it's never any easier. You both are in my thoughts and prayers.

9/20/2010 8:37 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

As you know it's been slightly more than two years since Nan, Scotty's "twin," went into her decline, followed a few weeks later by her best buddy, Tina. Each of them, like Scotty, lived a full life and brought much joy and comfort to all. Probably the hardest day of a pet owner's life (amazingly, the pastoral intern at our church happened to be in the vet's office the day I (and the girls) had to take Nan in--not the usual pastoral care, but it was appreciated). Hugs. You and he will be in my thoughts as you let him go.

9/20/2010 9:30 AM  
Blogger skittles said...

Marmalade & I will sit a virtual vigil with you & Scotty... praying that you & Scotty have a peaceful (& temporary) separation for now... knowing you will be together again someday.

9/20/2010 5:27 PM  
Blogger Jeffrey said...

I'm so very sorry, and I know exactly what you're going through. One week ago today I had to put my beloved cat of 18 years, Chloe, to sleep. It was the right thing to do, but the hardest thing I've every done. God bless.

9/20/2010 5:31 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

'Pets' are people. We all die, but suffering is not necessary. I know you will do the right thing.

You probably will be told to erase this by your 'friends, but I believe you know Scotty is a great friend.

9/20/2010 5:40 PM  
Blogger Leonardo Ricardo said...

Whispers...whispers of thanksgiving and it´s ok to leave, to go onward, to rest, find comfort and purr elsewhere for now...it´s not far away and like others we love, they don´t go far, not really. Love to you and Scotty, Scotty your fine friend.

9/20/2010 5:56 PM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

I know that many of you are keeping more serious, human vigils.

Lisa, when the time grows near to part with your beloved Scotty, the vigil is quite serious, especially such a friend who has been with you for 19 years.

My love and my prayers are with you, m'dear.

Blessings.

9/20/2010 6:12 PM  
Blogger Lois Keen said...

My Balthazar went ahead of Scotty over 20 years ago. Much prayer and care for you and Scotty, Lisa.

9/20/2010 6:58 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Prayers for Scotty as he crosses the rainbow bridge. Cats and dogs go to heaven, they are not the ones who screwed up.

Prayers for you and the coming of the Comforter as you deal with the loss.

jimB

9/20/2010 7:48 PM  
Blogger True Blue Texan said...

Letting go is always hard, especially when it is of a companion who has been with you through so much. I hope that the end, when it comes, it as easy as possible for you both.

Prayers for you and Scotty.

9/20/2010 7:53 PM  
Blogger Tracie H said...

:wipes tear:

My little Bean will welcome him to the other side, I'm sure. She was so loving. She'll love him too.

:hugshugshugshugshugs:

9/20/2010 9:20 PM  
Blogger A Thorn Among Many said...

Dear Lisa, I am praying for you and for your dear Scotty... sending you a loving hug, Jerry

9/20/2010 9:50 PM  
Blogger Mary-Cauliflower said...

It's one of the hardest things we do as humans. My prayers are with you.

9/20/2010 10:34 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Dear friends, thank you for all these notes, hugs, and prayers. As I had planned, I came home tonight and set to work creating a blog-post with a collection of liturgical resources for the deaths of our animal companions. The results are here … and I put it on my sidebar, too. While I was working on that, I stayed away from my blog and e-mail, knowing I could get easily distracted and emotional.

Now I am happy to turn my attention back to this blogpost.

Thanks, Clumber. Canine prayers are equally and gratefully appreciated.

Yes, Hilary, I know that most of us have experienced this. I’ve been through it twice before. But it never gets easier, does it?

Oh, Karen, I know you know as few others do. Remember what a rambunctious little bundle of energy that orange Scotty boy was? It makes me smile to remember.
Yes, I remember about Nan & Tina’s deaths. I think something similar happened to Scotty when Shug died. Slower … but similar.
It is indeed very good that your pastoral intern was there. I’ve decided that – when the time comes – I’m going to take Scotty first to my Episcopal priest … and then to the vet. I’ve realized we will both need prayers and blessings.
Deep thanks for your support.

Thank you Skittles. Give Marmalade an extra hug this night.

Thank you, Jeffrey, and prayers for your Chloe. Yes, you are right: It is absolutely the hardest thing! No doubt about that.

Mark, I agree: You wrote: “We all die, but suffering is not necessary. I know you will do the right thing.” I will … but the timing is a mystery. How to discern when my need is making Scotty suffer. That’s the hard question. Tonight, we had good time on the sofa while I wrote my “liturgy collection.” He was quite at peace with me, and I hope he knew I was doing it for him and all animal companions. … But the question is going to raise its ahead again every single day as I must ask: “Am I keeping Scotty here for his good or for mine?” That’s a tough one.

9/20/2010 11:43 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Dear friends, thank you for all these notes, hugs, and prayers. As I had planned, I came home tonight and set to work creating a blog-post with a collection of liturgical resources for the deaths of our animal companions. The results are here … and I put it on my sidebar, too. While I was working on that, I stayed away from my blog and e-mail, knowing I could get easily distracted and emotional.

Now I am happy to turn my attention back to this blogpost.

Thanks, Clumber. Canine prayers are equally and gratefully appreciated.

Yes, Hilary, I know that most of us have experienced this. I’ve been through it twice before. But it never gets easier, does it?

Oh, Karen, I know you know as few others do. Remember what a rambunctious little bundle of energy that orange Scotty boy was? It makes me smile to remember.
Yes, I remember about Nan & Tina’s deaths. I think something similar happened to Scotty when Shug died. Slower … but similar.
It is indeed very good that your pastoral intern was there. I’ve decided that – when the time comes – I’m going to take Scotty first to my Episcopal priest … and then to the vet. I’ve realized we will both need prayers and blessings.
Deep thanks for your support.

Thank you Skittles. Give Marmalade an extra hug this night.

Thank you, Jeffrey, and prayers for your Chloe. Yes, you are right: It is absolutely the hardest thing! No doubt about that.

Mark, I agree: You wrote: “We all die, but suffering is not necessary. I know you will do the right thing.” I will … but the timing is a mystery. How to discern when my need is making Scotty suffer. That’s the hard question. Tonight, we had good time on the sofa while I wrote my “liturgy collection.” He was quite at peace with me, and I hope he knew I was doing it for him and all animal companions. … But the question is going to raise its ahead again every single day as I must ask: “Am I keeping Scotty here for his good or for mine?” That’s a tough one.

9/20/2010 11:43 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Dear friends, thank you for all these notes, hugs, and prayers. As I had planned, I came home tonight and set to work creating a blog-post with a collection of liturgical resources for the deaths of our animal companions. The results are here … and I put it on my sidebar, too. While I was working on that, I stayed away from my blog and e-mail, knowing I could get easily distracted and emotional.

Now I am happy to turn my attention back to this blogpost.

Thanks, Clumber. Canine prayers are equally and gratefully appreciated.

Yes, Hilary, I know that most of us have experienced this. I’ve been through it twice before. But it never gets easier, does it?

Oh, Karen, I know you know as few others do. Remember what a rambunctious little bundle of energy that orange Scotty boy was? It makes me smile to remember.
Yes, I remember about Nan & Tina’s deaths. I think something similar happened to Scotty when Shug died. Slower … but similar.
It is indeed very good that your pastoral intern was there. I’ve decided that – when the time comes – I’m going to take Scotty first to my Episcopal priest … and then to the vet. I’ve realized we will both need prayers and blessings.
Deep thanks for your support.

9/20/2010 11:43 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you, Skittles. Give Marmalade an extra hug this night.

Thank you, Jeffrey, and prayers for your Chloe. Yes, you are right: It is absolutely the hardest thing! No doubt about that.

Mark, I agree: You wrote: “We all die, but suffering is not necessary. I know you will do the right thing.” I hope I will … but the timing is a mystery. How to discern when my need is making Scotty suffer? That’s the hard question. Tonight, we had good time on the sofa while I wrote my “liturgy collection.” He was quite at peace with me, and I hope he knew I was doing it for him and all animal companions. … But the question is going to raise its head again every single day as I must ask: “Am I keeping Scotty here for his good or for mine?” That’s a tough one.

Leonardo, I am deeply touched by your “whispers” and by your reminder. Deep thanks, my friend.

Thank you, Mimi. I suspect you know what I’m thinking. There are humans in our circle who are suffering life-and-death vigils. I want them to know I am thinking of them, too.

Lois: “Balthazar.” What a noble name. We never forget, do we? They leave their pawprints on our hearts forever. Heck! My Canterbury’s death (ca. 1985) is still burned into my heart. God bless Balthazar.

9/20/2010 11:47 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, JimB. I’m with you and so many others who have written here: No doubt our animal companions will be with us on the other side.

TrueBlueTexan: Deep thanks. I don’t think you’ve written here before, but I am grateful for your note. You’re right: Letting go is a bitch!

Oh, TracieH: You bring a tear back to my eye, too. I hope Scotty will meet all the furry friends of my friends.

Jerry/Thorn: Thank you for taking the time to write.

Mary-Cauliflower, ain’t it the truth??

Dear friends – I am overwhelmed by your kindness, your understanding, your support.
I am struck that so many of you who wrote here have never commented here before. Perhaps our furry friends can bring us all together.

Peace to all of you and all your furry and furless friends this night.

Last night I went to bed about 10pm and woke at 2:30 am, never to snooze again. I hope I will have better and more sleep tonight.

9/20/2010 11:49 PM  
Blogger Erika Baker said...

All vigils of love are the most serious, whoever they may be for.

And I don't somehow think you are keeping Scotty alive for your own sake. Over the last 19 years you have formed such a deep bond that you would simply know when it was right for him to go and as you love him so deeply, I very much doubt that you would put your own wishes first when that happens.

Tears, love and prayers.

9/21/2010 2:57 AM  
Blogger AndrewPlus said...

Praying for you and Scotty. And sending you hugs, and catnip and belly rubs to Scotty.

andrew

9/21/2010 2:58 AM  
Blogger MarkBrunson said...

My heart is breaking for you.

I'm so, so sorry.

9/21/2010 3:30 AM  
Blogger klady said...

Me, too. Prayers for you and Scottie.

I know -- contemplating and suffering the loss something so deep and intense. I remember losing Peatmoss, a beagle, and realized that in the brief 11 years I had her, that her touch, her sleeping and sighing, and lying next to the back of my knees at night was literally my touchstone with life, through part of a long difficult marriage when her touch was all I had, physically and emotionally. Her heart and soul (yes, of course she had/has one) and eyes pierced me in the end. It is such a blessing to have Gracie now, Gracie who has lived through my joy and another sorrow, but Peat was a special love, and anchor during so much, who will never be forgotten.

May you and Scotty find peace this long day and night.

9/21/2010 4:13 AM  
Blogger Ellie Finlay said...

Oh, Lisa. I know. I know, I know.

I had to give my Henry "the good death" just about a year ago. He was a stunningly gorgeous snowshoe Siamese and had been my companion ever since I came back to the States.

Please know (I know you do) that all of us here are wrapping loving arms of prayer around you right now and around Scotty as well. We will not let go; we will hold you and be with you and love you and grieve with you.

And Jesus loves that precious kitty utterly, utterly. And you, too. Never forget this.

9/21/2010 7:21 AM  
Blogger motheramelia said...

Gentle hugs for Scotty and stronger ones for you.

9/21/2010 8:28 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

There are no real words to comfort you except to say that you have loved Scotty like no others and your faithfulness to the end is one of a kind.

Prayers are ascending for you both.

9/21/2010 8:55 AM  
Blogger Suzer said...

I'm sorry I didn't see this until now. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Scotty. I know only too well how difficult it is to say "until we meet again" to a beloved pet, and to make the choice to compassionately let go.

The only consolation, if there is one, is knowing that Scotty has lived a very full life, and has been blessed with love and the care of his wonderful mama.

9/21/2010 9:30 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

very very sad - always so sad. Prayers from me, for you and Scotty.

9/21/2010 9:59 AM  
Blogger Freda said...

Prayers for both of you...... there is so much you share and have gone through together. Pets bring such love into a relationship with a human and such devotion. May you be strengthened through this time of saying goodbye. Every Blessing

9/21/2010 12:05 PM  
Blogger Bluebird said...

Adding my prayers as well, for both of you, along with lots of hugs and tears. May Our Lord comfort you both.

9/21/2010 5:09 PM  
Blogger it's margaret said...

God bless you, and God bless Scotty for all the love given and received.

You are in my prayers.

9/21/2010 7:58 PM  

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