On Sunday April 12th, 2015 we said "goodbye" to our beloved little girl Meadow.
It pains me to type this out but I must. I am not out to break the hearts of others with my words. This is therapy for me. My heart is already broken and if my tears start, I will not stop this blog.
Meadow became noticeably different on Easter Sunday. I saw little signs that she may not have been feeling well over the weekend but the red flags were waving this morning. Ever since the pancreas attack last summer, always more watchful of her. I took her to the vet, some tests were done, and I left with Meadow, watching her closely and holding out hope things would be okay as we worked through this in the coming days/weeks ahead. If she turned for worse, I would take her back in asap. Another appointment was scheduled for the Saturday.
To be brief about this... Meadow's state worsened rapidly in the days between. The results... she had an aggressive kidney tumor (cancer). She was rapidly deteriorating.
As he talked to us, he answered questions we had before we even asked them. It was all about Meadow and how she was now. Like her mobility, she was off balance at times, I would go to pat her on the head and she'd kinda move her head off to the side, like she was startled. Basically with the kidneys not working now, her body was toxic. He explained it as being slightly drunk. She was quite fuzzy in the brain about things now. She was unsure about her steps, jumping on the couch became a bit of a task. We had placed a step at the foot of our bed to help her up there now... which only a couple days before was no challenge to do. She probably slept some 20 hours a day now. Her muscle mass was gone, everything just hung off her. And for the first time in all her near 12 years of life, she missed the litter pan. She certainly tried to pee in it, but didn't. And it happened again. We talked about her quality of life. The vet asked us to think of 4 or 5 things she once loved to do so much, and if they were still there. Nothing was. We could have tried to hang on to her with some meds, like an appetite stimulant, which would give her a fake hunger feeling so she would eat. What was the point? We love our cat so much, this was no way of life for her, and not memories we would want to hold of her. Angie and I had played this stuff out before seeing the vet and as difficult as it was to say, we talked about euthanasia. We scheduled it for the next morning, wanting to take her home for one final afternoon and overnight. He gave her another stimulant and away we went.
The remaining hours with her, hoo boy, such a variety of emotions. We didn't bug Meadow too much as she was really just wanting to sleep most of it. I did find myself going to her in our bed a few times through the afternoon, I'd brush her chin and work out a tiny little purr from her. I wanted to hug and squeeze her but with her discomfort, I let her lay there, and I would get next to her, put my arm over her, kissing her head, whispering things to her about how much I loved her and how everything was gonna be alright. Tears are falling as I key this. I did not cry in the moment. She stayed still, purred lightly and would go back to sleep.
We got her some of her old favorite food things as a final supper, she barely ate anything, even with the stimulant in her.
Angie and I talked throughout the day, remembering all the fun we had. So many memories. Meadow has been a huge part of our lives. When Angie met me all those years ago, she met Meadow too. As she put it "Rob and Meadow are a package".
I always said I was Meadow's whole world, and really I was. It was just her and I in this house. If I wasn't at work, I wanted to be home with her. Of course I kept a social life with other humans but nothing made me happier than hanging with my cat. So in some ways, Meadow was my world too. She came to me at the very young age of 5 weeks old. A tiny little fur ball. She was given to me by a friend of my parents. Meadow's mom was named "Pepsi". It was fate. I fondly talk about the day I got her. We had all met over at my parents' home for dinner. I held Meadow with ease in the palm of my hand. I sat her on my lap, holding her and she fell asleep in my hand, sitting upright, slouched over my fingers wrapped around her tiny body. Holy crap, talk about an endearing cavity making sweet moment.
So in Meadow's mind, I was her only family in those early days. Our bond grew fast and was incredibly strong. She came to me at a time in my life that was just perfect. I had gotten out of a decade long relationship not too long ago, I had just bought this house, I wasn't at Pepsi for very long, so my life was going through all sorts of changes and she kept me grounded, when I felt lost, she was where I needed to be. It's the best way I can describe it right now in my state. She was involved in almost everything I did at home. She loved being with her daddy. This carried on all through our life together from the first morning coffee to the credits of a movie late in the night, and then coming to bed with me, snuggling up my side. The early years had us up till 3 or 4 in the morning playing Ramones cds in the kitchen, just messing around. Hell I couldn't even have a bathroom moment in peace most times, as our door doesn't shut right (dilapidated old house), so Meadow would just push it open and come on in while I sat there... brushing up against my legs or jump up in the sink for a sip from the tap. And in the final moments of us being home together the morning of April 12th, she found the strength to do this one more time. Too much information? Ha ha! It is what it is. And it pained me to see a tiny bit of my old normal Meadow an hour before her death. The stairs were a challenge now but she did it to be with me. I did have to carry her back to the main floor after though. The final evening together, Angie went to bed and I wanted to stay up with her. We had one last lay out on the couch, I watched a dvd and she slept at my feet. I eventually drifted to sleep with her; it always went that way. These are crushing memories right now, but somehow I find peace with them as well.
One of our last snuggle moments, I could sense this wasn't very comfortable for her, but she did her best to enjoy the love from her daddy.
Meadow pretty much lived in my house coat the last week. She loved that coat, especially when I put it on after work. We'd stretch out on the coach to watch something, and she'd get right up beside me, right into my arm pit, and purr for a couple hours while I held her and we'd both doze off. She loved anything I wore, from work socks to the occasional pair of boxers, but shirts and jackets were her favorite.
My spirit feels broken along with my heart. I want to do nothing but be a sad mess. I try to think about the last days, remind myself of the sick state she was, and how she is far better off. She is not suffering. She died with dignity. That was the most difficult decision I've ever had to make in my life and the most difficult decision Angie and I have had to make as a couple.
Sunday April 12th was the day I always feared (not knowing it would be this day). It scared me so much to think about the day Meadow would die. I could never imagine my life without her. Like right now, being on the computer for too long, she'd be sitting on the kitchen table nearby staring at me, like "enough daddy, let's go do something" especially as the days are getting warmer. I couldn't imagine myself being strong at all through this but I found it. I had to be strong for Meadow. I had to be strong for Angie. I love that cat more than some people love their kids or mothers. I envisioned being let out a back door at the clinic because I'd be such a sobbing mess, staggering out to a back alley and dropping to the pavement. But I wasn't. I couldn't remain in the clinic long after everything was done. I got out to the truck while Angie finished up the paperwork. I looked up to the sky. I couldn't hear anything. I was so in my own moment. I thought about Meadow, her going to sleep in my arms, feeling her final breath, and then I burst into tears. I can't remember the last time I cried, nor how hard I cried like I did now. It's been so long I didn't think I could ever cry again. But it all came out. A slow trickle at first and then whoosh. I bet it was an ugly cry, sobbing and slobbering as I sat in the passenger seat facing out to the world. Here come the tears again. I'm not embarrassed. Angie found me like this. She embraced me and kept strong for me now. Meadow wasn't just a pet, not just a cat, she was family, she was my best friend, my side kick... and still is in my heart, her spirit will always be around me.
To have an animal love you, it is special, their feelings are genuine. You always know where you stand with an animal. And to bond with one, it is beyond description, but one word I do use is eternal. These are words I've shared with friends who have lost an animal family member. It's words I am telling myself. I will see her again one day.
Meadow was a gift, not meaning a house warming present, but a true gift from ??? I'm not much for religious stuff. I was blessed to have her come into my life. She will not disappear from my heart, never from my memories, even if I live another 50 years or more. I took a lot of photos of her over the years, tons of selfies and many of the pics will go with me in my travels, always being on my mobile device as an example.
Even with the various special days throughout the year like Halloween.
Christmas Eve 2014. She looks grumpy but she wasn't. She purred. She loved doing almost anything with her daddy.
I do wish I took more videos of her but I guess since she was always near my side, it wasn't going to be an easy thing. I did find myself taking one Easter Sunday after the initial vet appointment, I watch this and it blows my mind how she still looks and acts like herself here despite what was going on within her, and in mere days, she could not do this. You can view the link here. Ya, nothing exciting to most, just her messing with the crickets in the tank, but it was something she loved to do.
The next while sure will be tough. So many firsts without Meadow ahead. Last night was the first night without her. Sunday night, alone on the couch, watching something and drifting off to sleep in my house coat. How I wished to cuddle her again. Today was the first morning coffee without her. She loved that hot cup of coffee with me, rubbing her chin on it, never drinking... she loved heat.
All the first holidays ahead, especially Christmas. She loved the tree. She loved Christmas morning, her toys and more so the wrapping paper.
I can't imagine wrapping presents this year without her. I am a slow wrapper and Meadow doubled the wrapping time; but we had a blast. She got into everything, attacking the paper, the ribbons, I would put tape on her tail and we'd forget wrapping stuff for the next 20 minutes. Tears.
Even when we start Project Feeder Watch in November, no Meadow on the table with me watching out the window for the birds. Of course Meadow would give up on it all after a bit and drift off to sleep. I didn't mind. I loved her being there right with me as always.
Can't forget Whiskey Wednesday. I work till 10 at night. Angie is in bed by the time I get home. Meadow was always willing to sit with me while I toasted getting over the hump of the week and heading towards another weekend. *sigh*
Or those sick days. I'm laying in bed and she's right there with me.
So many photos I want to share.
We will grieve the next while, probably a long while. Her things will not just disappear from the house. Example being, her feeding area remains in the kitchen.
She was a source for my own cat memes. Meadow was a very photogenic cat.
Man oh man, so many, but so many got a laugh from these when I randomly posted them.
Pictures will be framed and hung, maybe even a canvas of one of the best shots of her at some point.
I expect my social media pages, especially Facebook, to become rather dull for the next while. I rarely post just stuff about myself, or photos, unless Meadow is in there (or Pierre). My page may say "Rob Mueller" but it really is Rob and the Animals, often Rob and Meadow. Of course I have a lovely wife, I have a good life, but really I am quite private about all that stuff. I like to share about the animals, the joy they bring me, and hopefully bring smiles to the faces of others, maybe influence the occasional person as well with all I post.
Of course there is a whole chapter about when Angie came into our lives, and that may be told another day. Just sayin'
One day, somewhere down the road, another cat or two may come into our lives, but not anytime soon. Not just about us, but about our birds, we were very lucky to have Meadow who gave little interest in our Budgies.
Okay, 3 hours on this now. If she were here, she would have gone for a nap and be back on me by this point.
Yesterday I lost one of the most precious things in my life, something I loved more than my own life.
I love you Meadow Mueller. I always will. Thank you for everything you gave me, for always being there.
One of our most loved photos of her, enjoying her weigela shrub. A reminder to always stop and smell the flowers, enjoy what is with you in the moment, and not always be looking ahead (or even worse, dwelling on the past).