Rocket Socks died Friday the 20th. She did not go gently into that good night. Her behavior began to change Thursday evening at about 8pm. I knew she was dying and I stayed with her. As she died she became increasingly debilitated and wild. Was awful to watch my gentle cat fight to live. I wanted her to die at home without the stress of going to the vet again. I couldn't do it. We took her to the vet as soon as they opened in the morning. Mark had to put on leather work gloves to pick her up and put her in her carrier. She could no longer walk but her teeth were working big time. She yowled and drooled the whole ten miles to the vet's office. I held the carrier and cried.
The vet and her assistant were wonderful. Kind, caring and very practical. They sedated Socks and then took her out of the carrier. I am not quite sure how, but we all ended up sitting on the floor around her as she slowly relaxed into the bed they brought for her. I petted her and cried. Not just a few tears but sobs and snot. Believe me when I tell you NO ONE ever hears me cry. I might shed a few tears in public but I never make a sound. When I could talk again the vet asked, "Now?" Mark said yes and the vet found the vein and injected my Socket Set. It finished quickly, from gentle breathing to no breathing. Death is peace. I always forget the silence. Dying takes tremendous energy. When it finally occurs there is relief and rest for the first few seconds/minutes afterward. We all just sat there.
Mark was the first to move. In a strangled voice he said, "I'll go get her basket." He was gone a fair bit of time. When he returned we put her in her basket. I tucked her blue rat under her chin between her paws and straightened her collar and bell. The vet wrapped her long fuzzy tail around her. She looked like she was ready for a long nap. Mark covered her with the towel in the basket. We all got up. I still had on my coat. I'd never taken it off. I put on my gloves and picked up the basket. The familiarness of the warm weight in my arms was such a comfort. I blew my nose and tried to look normal. There were kids in the lobby.
The drive home was way too short. I held her and cried. Mollie sniffed her and then sat quietly in the backseat. I wanted those ten miles to be a hundred. I wanted to hold my kitty and never let her go. But all to soon we arrived home. Mark pulled into the garage and turned off the car. More silence. I couldn't move. So we four just sat in the cooling car. I began to pray. I thanked God for love. My love. My ability to love. My opportunity to love. My Rocket Socks who was love. I was and am so blessed by the cheerful long haired tuxedo cat who wandered into my life one fall day, collapsed in ecstasy into the leaves at my feet, and then stayed for eleven bliss filled years.
After the prayer, of which I remember not the words but the feeling, I got out of the car and took Socks inside. I put her basket in its normal place in front of the heater. Whomper immediately went over and sniffed her. She then walked off and did not look back. I sat on the edge of the sofa in my coat and gloves and cried. Mark went outside to take the plastic bags of dirt out of the hole we had dug behind the rose bush. The bags of dirt were frozen so this took some time. I finished crying and picked up Socks and took her outside. I sat on a cold bench and let the sun shine on her while Mark finished enlarging the hole. Socks loved sunshine. She would lay on her back in a sunbeam and I would sing the first verse of "You Are My Sunshine," and she would meow the second verse. We were a big hit at daytime parties. When the hole was large enough I went over and placed her at the bottom. I then got a big trash can and filled it with leaves. I took them to the hole and let them fall over and cover her. Mark cried. We took turns gently putting the earth back into her grave. When we had made a little mound we patted it smooth and went to look for rocks. The ground is frozen so it took a little time to find and dig out the right size and amount of rocks. I cried while I pried out the rocks. Oddly enough there was no one around. In our little hamlet there is always someone out and about doing something. But not that day. Just us in the cold clear sunshine. When we found enough rocks we covered her small grave to make a perfect oval. We moved the shovels, brushed the dirt off ourselves and stood one on either side of the grave. We held hands. Mark said a prayer and thanked God for "Our friend Socks." We cried some more. We were finished.
Grief is hard today. It was hard the past three days. I imagine it will be hard for the next few weeks/months. Friend Kim who just lost her beloved Peg suggested I get out pictures of Socks. This I have done. I have one in every room so I don't feel so alone. Before Mollie this cat was my dog. She followed me everywhere. When I sat down she was on or near me. TV watching is no fun without her. Doing my devotions in the morning is agony. Everyday we would have a fight over my Bible. She loved the feel of the thin pages and would lay on it and lick the corners. Very hard to read something with a ten pound cat right in the center of it. Phooey. I believe there are animals in Heaven. If God worries about sparrows surely cats HAVE to be included. I will see her fuzzy little self again.
But right this minute, I miss my cat. It snowed five inches shortly after we finished her grave. I can't even see it. I want her to come back to me. Phooey. Guess I will cry some more.
Take care. Love Bea
P.S. Gopher Girl: A cat who sits up on her hind legs with her front paws at her chest and waits patiently to be petted.