Today we lost our George. He slept with us on the bed all night until I started to dress this morning. Then I found him on the bedroom windowsill panting with rapid labored breath. Not only was he not better since his visit to the veterinary yesterday, he was much worse. I gave him the two meds that the vet prescribed but I knew something was much worse than we imagined. I called the vet’s office but today they were closed for a remodeling project in the office. However, their voice mail gave me the number of another veterinary clinic for emergencies.
We rushed him to the Taos Veterinary Clinic out past the old blinking light (it no longer blinks yet old Taosenos still call it by that name) and by the time I took him into the examining room, he was getting weaker. The Dr. took his temperature and found it much lower than it should be for a cat. His heart had a murmur, and a problem that he was probably born with that caused the heart muscle to become thicker and thicker in an attempt to compensate for an insufficient blood flow from the aorta. Eventually the thickened wall prevents enough blood from entering and exiting the heart. Apparently, his visit to the clinic the day before had been the stress that tipped him over the edge. The Doc ran an EKG and had me bring PQ in to see the problem on the screen. PQ had gone outside because he already feared the worse. The doctor recommended euthanasia to end his desperate struggle to breath in enough oxygen. Troubled breathing is a repetitive theme in our world.
I stayed with him to his last breath. It was very hard to accept that this beautiful, intelligent, high-spirited and extremely social young cat was gone and I couldn’t refrain from stroking his soft shiny coat for several minutes after he quit breathing. It didn’t seem that this was real. I numbly paid at the front desk and the receptionist mentioned that they recognized PQ and had one of his paintings hanging in the bathroom. Many years ago, he brought his Rottweiler Brute to this clinic. I took a quick look at the painting and on the way out noticed that a man in the waiting room was holding a cat with markings similar to George’s then I ran outside to find PQ. He was obviously on the verge of tears.
We drove home quietly. When we got home, PQ sat at the kitchen table and sobbed for several minutes. I didn’t have time to cry, but dearly wanted time to honor George with the tears he deserved, but this slave to circumstance needed to wash my clothes and the cat carrier that poor George had peed on as he lost control of his body, take Corey to work immediately, pick the girls up from three different schools and fill an almost empty fuel tank for the next day’s back and forth deliveries. I desperately didn’t want to do anything other than be quietly at home with PQ. Grieving George will be with me for a long time. Tonight we talked about how this loss hit us in the heart, and wondered how our other cat Shadow would react to being alone. Right now, she won’t come out of the bedroom. We only had George two years but he had a much more powerful effect on our lives than we ever imagined. As PQ said, “he was our boy.”
|George with a View|
As I was driving around this afternoon, it occurred to me that certain beings come into our lives for a reason that we can’t imagine at the time, but it’s as if they are on a mission. When George was still a kitten, he parked himself in the grass near our front door day after day. We didn’t want another cat and in fact, didn’t want any animals. Shadow started us down this path. She was feral and obviously malnourished. I started feeding her outside and we gradually succumbed to her sad condition. It was fulfilling to turn her into a beautiful healthy creature. Nevertheless, we wanted to be free to travel without obligations tying us down. PQ’s health issues were quite enough to keep us challenged.
Why did George come into our lives? He was worlds of difference from shy Shadow. He loved people and met no strangers. He was an unruffled cool cat from the first. While energetic, playful and extremely curious, thus the name Curious George, there wasn’t very much that frightened him and he was amazingly patient with grandkids. Nevertheless, he took on the yapping dogs next-door as though he was a real tiger even though he had eyes shaped like those of a lion.
I have nothing insightful or wise to say, but I notice that the theme of heart and breath keeps surfacing as I recount this experience. Whether or not there is any insight or wisdom to be revealed by his loss, George deserves to be honored. Animals also come into this life carrying different proportions of consciousness, heart and spirit, and each one we get to know is a window into another world and I am grateful for our time with George.