I have been having really strange dreams. Dreams where I am trying to snap a picture of my dead cat. She is never dead in my dream even if she is sleeping under a foot of snow and inches of dirt in my Grandmother’s backyard. Sometimes her leg is maimed, other times she is blurry and indistinct. Last night I knew it was her but my dream camera wouldn’t take any pictures. I am afraid of losing my camera in real life. It is old and has served me well. I will continue to use it until it decides to give up just as I never gave up on my little kitty until she wanted to go. I can still feel her dying in my arms. She is a tiger-print ghost, actually, more like a guardian. I am getting a tattoo of her across my back so she can always be there to watch over me.
Christmas is particularly difficult because Ginger was my only Christmas gift seven years ago. We got her from The Humane Society; I picked her out.
Ginny and I had troubled lives at first… we both watched as my mother did illicit drugs and shot-up pain pills. Ginny even spent a Christmas Eve alone when mom made me and Jens, my fiance at the time, take her to the ER to score more prescriptions. Like me, she also moved to multiple houses just to be abandoned again and again when mom went to the psychiatric ward.
Eventually, I brought Ginger to live with me. I promised I would never abandon her and tried to give her a great life. I only had her a little over four years before she got sick. We still don’t know what happened. That’s the worst part. I did the only thing I could have done with no money and no idea how to make her better. I had to put her down.
We were comforted by the vet whom we had not met before that visit. He touched every inch of her body and I could tell he wanted to make sure he checked everything possible. I already felt a hard knot at the back of my throat. I answered his questions about her life and health. I kept reading a saying on the wall but I can’t remember what it said. That day remains a vivid blur.
When he concluded that nothing could be done my current boyfriend and I lost it. We were given a few minutes alone with her. Those minutes went by so quickly. I don’t remember what I said. I know I told her I was sorry and that I would always love her. I just wanted her to transform back into that kitten I fell in love with. Before she had any pain, I wanted to be lucky enough to take care of her again, she was the most perfect pet I had ever had. I knew she could never be replaced. I had opened my heart to her completely.
When the vet came back things happened so fast. I held onto her and Zach was beside me. The vet stuck the needle in. I had only seen one other animal put down before. I asked him “how much longer does she have?” He replied “about fifteen seconds” they seemed like the fastest seconds of my life.
I saw her eyes lose their spark as she became an awkward toy in my arms. I felt her soft coat and wanted to hear her purr more than anything in the world. She hadn’t purred in days because of the pain. I think she must have had cancer or nerve damage. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t play for over a month. They made an indentation of her paw print on a piece of clay. She still didn’t stir. She didn’t mew or even cry. She always cried when she was going to the vet or when we were moving. I’ve never lived anywhere without her since I took her from my mom and she died in this house. A house we had only been renting a month or so. She went from being active and loving to being solitary and in constant pain.
I would sit or lay on the floor with her and pet her. At the end I had to bring her to the litter box and feed her by hand. I would have done that every single day for as long as it took if she would have gotten better. The vet told me if we took her home that day we would just be bringing her back or worse, she could die in agony when no one was there to comfort her.
I am glad my baby died in my arms even if it gives me nightmares for the rest of my life. She has given me more love than anyone else can understand. She knew when I hurt and all she had to do was snuggle up to me and start purring. I knew she was protecting me and I know she will always be there, even if I can’t see her anymore.
I buried her in her favorite purple plastic bowl. She loved to curl up and sleep in it. She loved to sleep everywhere, she knew the entire house was hers. My favorite times were during snowstorms. She slept in a circle on my pillow, a fuzzy little halo keeping me warm, filling my head with happy dreams.