Just over two weeks ago, we had to say goodbye to my angel, Carmen.
It happened so quickly, and it’s all still raw for me.
Carmen got a clean bill of health at her check up in July. Mid-September I found a lump on her, two actually, around nipples. That was a Sunday. Monday I was a walk in at the vet. She confirmed what Dr. Google had said, that it was cancer. The lumps were small, and the vet felt confident that surgery would be the best course of action. I had done my research, and considering the lump size, the medium life span after surgery was three years. I agreed and left Carmen there so they could operate in the morning.
Nine o’clock that night I got a call from the vet. They had done an x-ray as part of the pre-work, and she didn’t like the look of Carmen’s lungs. She wasn’t sure, so she was consulting with a radiologist. She’d call me in the morning. I like that the vet is cautious, and she had been wrong about Lemon’s x-ray in the past, so I was hopeful.
The next morning I learned that the cancer had already spread to Carmen’s lungs. No surgery. Keep her comfortable as long as you can.
I decided to view things from Carmen’s perspective. She wasn’t in pain, and other than having a really bad haircut – they’d shaved her for the surgery when they sedated her for the x-ray – nothing had changed for her.
I was committed to loving on her as much as I could … and as much as she would allow.
Everything seemed the same until three weeks later. All of a sudden Carmen couldn’t catch her breath, and she cringed if I touched her more than a breeze would. I was basically petting just above her fur, barely touching at all. Fortunately I had come home from the vet with some anti-inflamatories, and those gave me my girl back. At least I could pet her.
That week was a week of lasts. The last time she slept on my lap. The last time we napped together.
Her breathing got more and more labored with each passing day. Initially I’d thought I’d use eating as a barometer for when it was time, but Carmen had a healthy appetite until the end. I spoiled her, feeding her kitty junk food and allowing her to eat right from the can.
But she’d have to stop eating several times to catch her breath. It hurt my heart to watch.
When she started getting winded simply turning around to get more comfortable, I knew it was time. I made the most difficult phone call of my life to arrange for a vet to come here to end her suffering.
I took the day off to be with her. That led to the last of the lasts.
The last sunbeam. The last purr, which was also her last picture.
As hard as it was, I’m so glad her last moments were at home. No vet smells, on her precious ottoman. I didn’t want her last memories to be of me crying, so as the sedative was taking effect, I reminded her of my favorite memories we had shared: her chewing her way out of her carrier when I first brought her home, her figuring out how to get off her harness, her wanting me to pet her as she explored.
After it was over we brought Lemon over to her so she would know what happened. It worked, since Lemon hasn’t looked around for Carmen since. I have, out of habit.
I work with fabulous people – they gave me a sympathy card as I was leaving work the next day. Everyone had signed it.
I know in time it will hurt less. I’m not there yet. The grief can be overwhelming at times.
Goodbye, Carmen. You were the best cat I’ve ever had. I will always love you.