This past week, I had to make one of the most difficult and emotional decision that a pet owner will ever make: the decision to put my 20-year-old family kitty to sleep.
He had overcome health issue after health issue in his long life, including kidney trouble, biting a poisonous lizard, and hyperthyroidism, but when faced with a possibly cancerous abdominal tumor, Reuben decided he had lived the life he wanted.
I have been wanting to tell him a few things, so humor me while I write him a letter and do my best to heal.
I am so glad that I was able to hold you in your last hours and hopefully bring some comfort to your fuzzy, gray self. I know you were suffering immensely, which is why I made the decision I did. Believe me, if my own selfishness had won out, you might still be here with me right now. I'm pretty sure I made the right choice, but I suppose one can never be altogether certain.
In those final emotional moments, I said everything kind that I could possibly think of to try to remind you of how loved you were and still are. I told you how much we all admire you, how Mom loves you so much too, and what an amazingly good kitty you are -- the best I've ever known.
I wanted to be strong for you, but somehow the tears kept falling. I did the best I could to be your rock, Reuben, and I truly hope it helped. But there were things in those crazy last moments that I was feeling, yet couldn't put words to. I want you to know all of them, which is the point of this letter:
When I say you were the most amazing cat I've ever know, I'm not exaggerating one bit. After fostering kittens for almost a year, I was only more certain that you were oh-so-special. None of the other cats in this world can hold a candle to you, buddy. You had so many qualities to admire, and were so many things that many people can only aspire to. You loved everyone. Instantly. You were seemingly always wise. You were steadfast. You were firm, but kind. You were regal, but still humble enough to have silly fun. You were simply amazing.
You have been my rock for nearly my entire life, sometimes the only thing I felt to be a constant, and it's hard to imagine that the world has gone on turning since you left it. True, there are some things that are easier since you left: I have all the cream to myself and I don't have to worry about your stealthy door escape tactics. I feel a twinge of guilt when I realize that these parts of life are now simpler. But I tell you this quite honestly: I would never drink cream again if you could still be here. You know how much I hate milk in my coffee, but if I could always have your warm, gray, fuzziness in my life, I would never resent the cream of mine that you were slurping.
I also want to apologize for all of the times when I didn't treat you as well as you deserved. For the times when I accidentally stepped on your begging-for-food-in-the-kitchen self, for the times when I yelled at you for incessantly meowing in my face, and for every single time that I left and didn't hug and kiss you goodbye -- because I would give just about anything for a Reuben cuddle in this moment.
I'm so glad that Dan was lucky enough to get to know and love you in your last few months. I believe that you trusted him with me enough to let go. He keeps telling me that you'll always be around as long as I remember you and hold you in my heart, so now I just need to heal enough to be able to do that. They say that the more you loved, the stronger the grief. I definitely believe that after this weekend.
Mom suggested we get a potted evergreen tree and put it out on our balcony in your honor, so Dan and I did just that. It's a wonderful little tree, very strong and loveable, just like you. I put your collar out there on it so that a little piece of you can enjoy the "fresh" New York City air without having to be tied up for safety ;)
I placed it in a spot of honor and where I can see it from the couch. I will always think of you whenever I see the Reuben Tree.
In case you can't tell from this letter, I miss you ever so much, Reuben. I tell Dan that several times a day when I can't hold it in anymore. We both love you so much and promise that you will always be a part of our little family, as well as part of the family that is me, Mom, and Theo.
Visit me in my dreams every once in awhile, okay? Sometimes it gets scary in there and you never know when you're going to need a kitty to chase away the dinosaurs. To the moon and back, Reubie Kitty.