I know it looked like I abandoned my blog. I guess I did. But why?
Drafts of posts have been started. Photos collected in a folder labeled “Isis” on my desktop. It’s been four months now, and I’m finally coming back and pulling the halted sentences together into a post that I will publish.
After two months, it wasn’t as hard to write about Isis as it was after two days or even two weeks. Time has passed and allowed me distance from The Event. But it’s been weird and awkward to type out the words. Maybe I’ve been postponing it because of the finality of it all.
Isis, our sweet cat of ten years, passed away in our arms on May 8 under the grim lights of a veterinarian’s exam room. Her labored breathing ceased; she was there but no longer there; her long, baffling illness behind her in a peaceful moment that came too soon.
But her eyes did not close.
I’m reliving the moment to write about it, and it brings me great pain. I’d never before been with a person or animal at the moment of death.
We fought her decline for so long, and so acutely in the month before her death, that it seemed as though things had always been that way. We spent the last couple weeks hovering around her, clinging to every moment she showed a sign of potential recovery‚ however temporary it might be. We had fluid drained from her body cavity twice while trying to figure out an actual diagnosis from the conflicting test results. Antibiotics seemed to help, but then she caught a cold of some sort. I found myself at the drugstore on a Sunday morning purchasing a baby nasal bulb respirator and saline drops to help clear her sinuses so that she could get oxygen into whatever lung space was available.
Still floundering for a diagnosis—was it in fact a bacterial infection, or FIP, or was there a foreign object in her lungs?—I took her for a third opinion from another vet, this time a friend’s cousin. Isis was breathing a little better after the fluid drain, but was still lethargic. She showed no anxiety and didn’t flinch when she was given a shot of prednasone to help her breathing. The next day, another round of lab results came back. Advanced FIP positive and, to our horrified surprise, FIV positive as well.
Say your goodbyes and bring her in in the next day or two, he said to me gently over the phone.
The really hard thing was that the prednasone shot improved her breathing and her appetite. So over the next couple days as we coped with the impending loss and timing The Inevitable.
The thing is, even though we dreaded it and knew to logically expect that she was dying, we weren’t prepared. I know. She’s just a cat. Except that she wasn’t. She was part of our family for ten years. It was really hard to say goodbye.