I actually wanted to make a blog post about this a week ago, but because it’s less about my photography and more about something personal, I had to wait…a stressful couple of weeks has just gone by for me.
I lost a very good friend of mine last Monday – I made the decision to have my almost-16 year-old kitty friend Milo, put to sleep; he had a tumor in his mouth, under his tongue. Through the good and the bad, and almost the entire time that I have been living here in the States, he was here though it all. Found by a co-worker, he and his litter-mates had been dumped in the middle of a rural road, likely with someone’s intent for them to be hit by a car; they were still warm and huddled together. Every day my co-worker brought the whole litter of very tiny, several weeks-old kittens into work, and we bottle-fed them every couple of hours. And how could I have done that every day and not taken one home to join my other pair of feline waifs?! Milo was likely the runt of the litter, and never the smartest kitty. But what he lacked in his fluffy black noggin, he made it up with his goofiness, his affection and his constant head-butts, and lying on you as close to your face as possible. He was great friends with my 90-pound wolf-mix dog, and tolerated being dragged around and squeezed by my toddler. He enjoyed it all.
I consider my animal companions to be family, and Milo has now joined 3 other animal family members, wherever that may be.. they were my ‘original four’. And with this loss, and now that they are all gone, I think of all that has happened since I adopted my first crazy Loopi cat. During that span of almost two decades now, my Milo was with me through five moves, graduating college, a divorce, losing those other 3 animal friends, diagnosis of a chronic illness, the terrible darkness of grieving my partner, and then the light in my life coming back on again: having a baby and becoming a mum, and creating a new family. He was there through all of that. Yet the biggest problem with having animal companions in your life is that they are never here as long as you are. They likely will be gone before you. My son also has now experienced the loss of some’one’ in his life, his first lesson about death, even though he doesn’t quite understand it yet.
But these animal friends don’t go without impact. That unconditional love and the way that animals don’t judge you, are great gifts. We don’t usually get that from very many humans. For that reason, I have found it very easy to give back to my animal friends, despite the sometimes-food-pickiness, the hairballs, the poop-scooping, and deciding to lie in the most inopportune places.
At the vet clinic, after a weekend of saying my goodbyes, feeding him nothing but good and smelly wet food, and having him wear a good pain-patch of Fentanyl, I held Milo close through his passing. In my arms, now weighing only a bit over 7 pounds, I held him while he was given the initial sedative, and I felt his body relax, and then waited until the vet came into give the final injection. It happens too fast. And there, all those years of happily trotting around, and then becoming an elderly kitty who just wanted to sleep, he was physically gone. I believe the final gift I could give back to my friend for all that time, was a painless passing in my arms.
Many animals do not ever feel the love of a human companion or any kindness or a painless death, and I think of that when I have experienced my own pets’ losses; many people don’t understand grief over an animal. They’ve enriched my life to no end.
Thanks for taking a moment to hear about losing my silly, happy, goofy, cuddly Milo. Some loss is about love and life and for that I am thankful. I’ll miss you my friend!
xo ~ K
“Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.” ~ John Galsworthy