A Good Death

This morning began with my daughter vomiting in my hair. While I can think of worse ways to be woken up, this was certainly not my preference. I was able to swoop her up before the next wave of vomit struck and aim her towards the floor. When she finished vomiting, she snuggled in my lap as I tried to wake up all the way and process what was happening.

It was a little after 530am. I had a few hours before the vet was due to put our beloved Spike to rest and then we had a gala to prepare for and then the babysitter was coming and then tomorrow morning we leave for Chicago. Our daughter vomiting did not fit into these plans.

Luckily, we are no strangers to illness dictating plans. As I sat at the edge of the bed with my daughter snuggled in my lap, I was able to make a gratitude list.

  1. The vomit looks clear, could be drainage.
  2. We have an awesome portable carpet cleaner
  3. Our new sheets are easy to wash, and our mattress pad is one of the best
  4. She doesn’t have a fever and doesn’t seem sick
  5. We live in an area where we have access to both doctors and medicine if needed

Within a few hours, our son was at school and our daughter was happily eating a pint of raspberries and two bowls of chicken noodle soup with no consequence. Whatever struck her in the morning passed as quickly as it came.

Waves of despair washed over me as 10am drew closer. The vet would be here and then within a short time Spike would be gone. I decided to attend a virtual meeting where the topic was very fitting, and I was able to connect with several lovely souls that shared in my preemptive grief. At a few minutes before 10am I logged off and told my daughter and husband that they had to go downstairs when the vet came.

Just as soon as I finished telling them to go downstairs the vet called and said she’d be there in 20 minutes. So, we all decided to go outside where Spike was laying down on the deck. I grabbed some catnip and offered him a little. He seemed mostly uninterested. This was unacceptable to our 2-year-old daughter who grabbed the container from me and dumped its entirety in a large heap in front of Spike. This got his attention.

Spike enjoying lots of catnip

For the next twenty minutes Spike playfully played with our daughter while he rubbed catnip all over his body and ate as much as could. There was laughter and connection. My husband, our daughter, our beloved Spike, and myself were all very present. Well after a short period Spike wasn’t present anymore because he was very high, but he was happy, and we were together.

When the vet arrived, my husband and daughter retreated to the basement, and we went through the process to end Spike’s life outside in the sunshine. I was able to hold him through the entire process and his journey was peaceful. His life was a good life, and his death was a good death.

Spike’s physical suffering was over. I sobbed. I grieved outwardly. Then I took a shower, put on clean clothes, and showed up for life. My daughter’s health remains intact and while the gala planned for this evening already feels like a distant memory, the promise of Chicago is still very much alive. Life will continue with or without me.

Today is Thursday. It might rain later but right now it’s sunny. I am present. I will let the grief pass through me. Spike’s soul was done with his body and no amount of hope or want could fix that. I will remember the cat he once was. The curious, annoying, loud, orange ball of fur that sucked on my ear to fall asleep. I am thankful for the journey we had together and will tell my children and grandchildren of his life so he may live in their memories and hearts as he does mine.

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