Wednesday, September 15, 2010

At peace

Well, I hope Rex is at peace. I'm certainly not. I am feeling tremendous guilt over making that decision. Is that normal?


(If you're thinking to yourself, "Oh heavens, not another post about that cat", please feel free to close the window and move onto the next blog on your list. I won't be offended. Heck, I won't even know. Because, yes, this is another post about that cat.)

We had Rex for 19 years. Mr. P and I got him less than two weeks after we were married. The OnlyChild never knew a day without him in her life. It's strange not having him around. I keep seeing him out of the corner of my eye. I keep hearing him meow from the basement. Except it's not him - it's just my imagination. And my guilt.

He was called Rex because Mr. P wanted to get a dog but I wanted a cat. So we compromised. Sort of. We got a cat (yay for me) and gave it a typical dog's name. But the name was so appropriate. I wrote in a letter to my mother, "He Rex the curtains, he Rex the furniture, he Rex a good night's sleep" and during the holidays, "He Rex the Christmas tree." He did - he climbed right up the middle of our artificial tree, knocking off the branches and sending ornaments flying. He did it every day until I finally had to start locking him in the laundry room while we were at work.

He had his own unique personality, like all our beloved pets do. He was a scrappy little fellow when he was younger, constantly fighting with other cats in the neighbourhood to secure his territory. Of course, these fights always took place at night in the back yard (another way in which he Rex a good night's sleep). He was terribly entertaining when we had guests as he would visit each person and show his affection by pouncing on them or climbing up their pant legs.

He loved snuggling, but hated to be picked up. He loved belly rubs but was equally fond of grabbing a hand with all four paws (and all 20? claws). He lost the tips of his ears to frostbite when he was a few months old. He lived in four different towns and six different houses with us. He spent a couple of summers hanging out with my brother in law, and another summer with my nephew Chris when we went back east.

In his last two months, he slept more than he was awake, co-opting the dogs' bed, much to their chagrin. They let him be; maybe they realized he was tired and worn out from a long, busy life.

I hope he knew how much we loved him. I hope he knows now how much we still do.

Thank you for all your kind comments. And for not once telling me, "he was just a cat". Because, you know, he wasn't just a cat. They never are.

xo

19 comments:

Pokey said...

Dear Rachel,
A presence (pet or human) that gave love and was loved by you and the family for 19 years is definitely going to leave a hole in your life. Fill the hole with your happy memories of Rex, and the guilt, wash that down with the suffering that is no longer occurring. When we put our beloved dog "Jezzy" down, a friend got a photo of her and framed it for Larry's desk (she worked in his office) and it was kindness and time that helped the ache. You are such a good writer, we feel your grief, and I'll kick the fella that has hard words for you. You are allowed!! Here's a hug from California!!
love, pokey

goldenbird said...

I think it is normal to feel the guilt. I felt it after I had my 19-year old dog put to sleep and grieved for a very, very long time. Rex was with you for so long and through so many major changes in your life, it is only natural you would feel his loss acutely. He wasn't just a cat, he was an important member of the family. I am sure he knows how much you love him.

Karen said...

Dearest Rachel,
I have been following your story about Rex for the last few postings. What a cute kitty. I love the picture of him yawing. He looks a lot like my Molly. I wanted you to know that I totally understand how you and your family feel. My Molly was with us for 18 1/2 years. She came to us when she was 7 months old and we loved that little girl everyday of her life. Last May I had to make the same decision you made with Rex. It is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, but I knew that I was doing the right thing for Molly. She was so tired and her body just couldn't keep up any longer. I have missed her every day since. Our home is not the same without her, but I think about her and hold her in my heart and remember the joy we had with her and it helps to fill that empty spot in my heart.
Please don't be so hard on yourself. Rex knew he was loved and loved a lot by you and your family.
I wish you peace and comfort during this time of loss and healing.
Here's a hug from Washington State from Karen

Barb said...

I am so sorry you have to go through this. To have an animal that long it would be heartbreaking to have to make such a decision, and always second guessing. Just know that there are alot of us out here who think the world of you and would be great listeners....

Tangos Treasures said...

Congratulations!! Your perfectly normal!! 19 years is a long life & you gave that to him, showering him with love! Yes he know's how much you love him! What you did was out of love too! I wish you peace & comfort in the grieving of your Rex!
Love Tango

PunkiePie said...

Oh Rachel. Your post is making me cry. I understand what you are going through. We might not have had our Buddy Boy for 19 years but the hurt is still there. R.I.P. Rex

andsewon said...

Bless your heart Rachel.. I do understand. It is so hard when we have to make the call instead of them just passing on naturally. Sometimes love hurts just no way around it.
Hugs,
Lola

ooglebloops said...

It's always a hard decision we humans have to make for our animal friends. Rex lived a good, long life, and now he is your angel. Keep writing about him...........

Thimbleanna said...

Oh Rachel, you brought tears to my eyes again. It's definitely normal to feel that way when you have to make "the" decision. I worried and worried about that during the last two years of our dog's life -- I just knew I couldn't do it. Then, one day, I came home from work at lunch to check on her and she'd made the decision for me. I think that's the only way to avoid the guilt. I hope it will get easier each day. KittyCat hugs to you.

Dolores said...

I do hope that time will give you some peace. 19 is a great old age and he was well and truly loved.

Quilter Going Bananas said...

what a lucky cat to have all that great loving for his whole life!
missing him is completely normal too.
sending you a hug from MB

Sara said...

My dear friend,

It is normal to second guess yourself - and normal to feel the guilt.

Rex knew how much he was loved - he would not have stayed for 19 years with you if he didn't feel loved. (He had opportunites to leave every time he was outside alone)

Your guilt will go away - knowing that the time was right - will replace it.

And, your heart will always love him and your mind will always remember him...

I'm so sorry you are going through this sad time...We are all here for you!

Regena@QuiltnQuiltthings said...

I know it's hard to make that choice of when to put them down. I have had to do it two times and it doesn't get easier with each time. I think Rex knows you made the best choice for him. He is at peace and enjoy your memories and know you did the right thing.
Regena

Patty said...

You know Rex was part of the family and I know just what you mean about seeing him out of the corner of your eye or hearing him meowing. Mark and I got a dog shortly after we moved in together. We had him for almost 19 years and went through the same agonizing decision of should we release him from this life or not.We made up our minds at least three times and each time just couldn't do it. Finally the day came when the poor old boy's quality of life was questionable and we made the decision. It was hard but the vet and her technician were wonderful and I remember one of them saying you'll be running and chasing animals again with no pain. I knew then we made the right decision. Time does heal but it has to be when you're ready. I Know Rex knows how much you loved him.

pogonip said...

Doing that final kindness is the very hardest part of having a pet. We know it's the right thing to do, yet we second-guess ourselves--too soon, too late. Be kind to yourself. Thanks for the Rex memories you shared with us.

Marie said...

it's never easy -- I too someday will have to make that choice ---

someone wiser than I reminded me that cats rule -- here on earth and everywhere else!

Vesuviusmama said...

Oh, I'm just catching up after a long absence, and I'm sorry to hear about your cat. 19 years is SO long - how lucky for all of you that you had that many years together. But know, that after 19 years, he won't be "gone" overnight. He's going to linger on the periphery for a while...

katillacshack.com said...

Hi Rachel,

Rex. Rex. Rex. What a guy. I have read through your tributes to him. What an amazing soul and spirit. Also, a teacher. "Live full-have outdoor adventures-be scrappy...most of all be yourself. You will find your family...I did, he says. And we are all still together...just watch for signs of me....I know you are and have already noticed me still around. In your heart, if no where else. But, I am all around you.."

Much love Rachel in your time of mourning...

Sew Create It - Jane said...

((((hugs)))) I just want you to know that I didn't just click on..that I read and I felt the sorrow that you feel for your lost family member. Please take comfort in knowing you gave Rex a good life and a good family and I'm sure where ever he is he must have known that you were caring owners. Unlike a dog, cats let their owners in and by the sounds of it, that's what Rex did for you. Take care x