I thought I'd share a little bit about Thompson's last day.
I probably waited too long to let him go but I really wanted to spend the day with him before I said goodbye, and I wasn't able to take Thursday, Friday, or Saturday off from work. He was really weak the last few days, only moving to get a drink of water and he seemed to struggle to drink much.
I also really hoped he and Diego-san would be able to spend some time together on his last day. I respected that they had known each other and lived together longer than they knew or lived with Theo and I. Diego clearly knew something was up because he skipped his nightly combing both Friday and Saturday nights. He rarely ever does that. Usually Sundays are spent with Diego-san (and often Theo) in the basement watching TV, but Thompson had taken his usual spot on the living room sofa so I decided to join him there. Again, this was a disruption of our usual routine and Diego took note. Eventually Thompson got up and went downstairs. So the three of us ended spending his entire last day together. Theo came down and tried cleaning Thompson who didn't respond so unfortunately Theo spent most of the afternoon in the upstairs bedroom.
Thompson tried to nap but he would occasionally move into a different position. He appeared to be having difficulty getting comfortable but he didn't seem to be in any noticeable pain. Half an hour before his appointment I sat down next to him and rubbed his forehead and said my goodbye. He began very softly purring. This is the last photo I took of he and Diego-san together.
It has been a difficult week. The plans all those years ago was adopting multiple cats so the mourning over the loss of one would hopefully be easier. There's a flaw to that plan: both Diego-san and Theo are clearly grieving as well. Theo spent the morning after constantly meowing and wanting to be with me. The past few days it almost seems like he’s wandering into different rooms looking for Thompson. Diego-san has been really mopey, to the point I'm thinking of taking him into the vet to see if there's something other than grieving going on.
Making things even more difficult is the fact that Diego-san and Theo have never bonded on any real level so they are no comfort to each other. I’ve been trying to read each boy, giving them attention when they seemto want attention and space when they just seem to be want to be left alone. I’ve tried to keep our routines as normal as possible. I know we’ll figure this all out, but my heart aches for Theo and Diego-san. I knew Thompson played such a key role in how this house functioned. He was the one we all could reliably turn to. I appreciate him even more than ever.
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Saturday, August 11, 2018
Rare is the night where you know with absolute certainty that tomorrow will be one of the saddest days of your life. I’m writing this knowing that less than 24 hours from now Thompson will be forever gone.
The one consolation is it has become clear to me it is time to let him go. Over the past few years he has lost more than half of his body weight. He’s endured the traumatic experience of multiple visits to the vet and has been tested over and over but whatever is devouring him from inside was never determined. He hasn’t eaten anything for over two weeks (16 days). There isn’t an ounce of fat on his body and it’s clearly becoming more difficult for him to move around. He doesn’t seem to be in any pain but he is constantly purring in an attempt to try to make himself feel better. He’s taken to resting in places in the house he usually doesn’t rest and it has left me to wonder if it’s a matter of trying to find a space where he’ll feel a little more comfortable or if it is a ritualistic way of saying goodbye to the only home he has known for 15 out of the 16 years of his life. The life is leaving his eyes.
Tonight he actually hobbled downstairs and up on the couch to lie on my chest as I was watching the Twins game with Diego-san and Theo. I tried to make the moment last forever as I knew it would likely be the last time.
One of my favorite things about Thompson is watching him move. It’s a lurching move forward as if he has to momentarily think about where to place his lone front leg in order to take the step forward. His is a halting gait that reminds me of jazz; it's unpredictable yet purposeful. I’m doing a lot of diversity and inclusion work at work and one of the things I’ve learned through that effort is our need to categorize people and things to bring order to our thoughts. Thompson lost his front left leg to an animal trap placed in the park he was living in so it’s been easy to define him as my three-legged cat. The greatest thing of all and one of the many life lessons he has taught me is his disability has been a part of his life but it is far from the only thing that defines him.
I love his natural imperfections, the brown spot on the left side of his nose that otherwise interrupts the white fur around his nose, mouth and chin; the intermingling of black and pink paw pads; how the white fur on his legs are of differing heights. He could never be a show cat but all that makes Thompson Thompson is worth everything else I have ever loved in this world. He isn’t the most cuddly cat but the times he has chosen to cuddle have been the best. He lies on my chest on the side of his missing leg and it allows him to get his head, without the inconvenient barrier of a limb getting in the way, to get as close to my heart as possible.
He has always been the talker of the house and it's sad that his arsenal of meows has been reduced to a short, tired, and resigned grunt.
During a time where I have felt alarmingly less connected and far less inspired by anything and everything, Thompson has remained an inspiring soul. As my darkest deepening unrelenting depression returned four years ago at the same time Thompson’s health turned for the worse, I made a pact with him: I wouldn’t give up as long as he didn’t. Let the record show he never gave up. He's been good at teaching me that life is about finding a place to call home and he was glad he found his, but there ultimately comes a fight where it becomes clear the circumstance is insurmountable. I get that.
One last life lesson learned from Thompson: at any moment of time you can suddenly lose an important piece of yourself. Perhaps even more insidiously is it can happen over a period of time when you don’t even notice the loss until it’s too late. The important thing is understanding the key is how you adapt to this unwanted change. We always have the choice on how we are going to try to take the next step. Thompson never wavered in his devotion to his two brothers. And he always let me know how grateful he was for the meals, for my attention, and for me coming home every night to complete our daily routines. My biggest regret is I couldn’t somehow share Thompson’s huge heart and great soul with the entire world.
I think the thing I’ll miss most about him is the day to day, moment to moment moments that have comprised the past 15 years. Like his brothers, Thompson knew that when the alarm clock went off and I finished with my shower it was breakfast time. He joined the stampede down the stairs to the bowls in the kitchen. He patiently took his place next to his BFF, Diego-San, waiting for me to fill his dish. At night he knew that when I was finished watching TV, there would be a clicking off noise from the TV and it was time for dinner. He knew on the weekends the routine was slightly different and when I got back with my soy latte from the coffee shop across the street that it was treat time. He would be the first to bellow out his meow in anticipation. Over the past couple of years the weekend routine incorporated music and reading time. Thompson took his place on my right arm making it difficult to turn the pages of the book I was reading but I really didn’t mind at all.