To some, the idea of “a loved one” brings to mind
a family member, a very close friend, or perhaps a lover.
The idea of losing this person is heart-breaking,
to some, it can mean the end of life as they knew it all together.
To me, that was exactly how it felt.
Though this love was not in human form,
it broke me all the same when it left.
My little love, my son, the closest companion I’d had since I was eight…
my everything. My cat, Latte.
He took my heart with him when he left.
He spent 18 long beautiful years on this earth,
until one day when I realized he just wasn’t the same anymore.
His gait had gotten more stiff, his leap on to the couch- more cautious.
His food bowl went mostly untouched. And with each day I could feel more
and more of his fragile little frame protruding through his fur.
He was sick for a long time.
I just thought he was getting old,
beginning the process of aging like anyone with his amount of years would.
But one day, after he’d developed a sore around his eye that looked
rather unpleasant, I decided it was time to take him in to the doctor.
I made the appointment without too much thought,
I was actually a little excited to have a professional give him a look-over at his age. Someone who could tell me a little more about what I could do
to make him comfortable in his last couple years.
Latte was nervous. He’d not been to a vet in probably 10 years,
but I knew it was time to get some answers that would help his health.
The doctor looked him over, checked his eyes with a light, felt around
his little limbs and down his spine. He paused for a moment near his abdomen,
and then the check-up was complete.
He patted Latte on the head and leaned back against the counter to give me his thoughts.
I had my list of questions that I’d thought up that day written in my pocket-
my mind wandering to them now, ready to ask after he’d told me what we were going to do
for Latte’s eye.
“Without doing blood work, I can’t be sure – but I believe Latte has kidney failure.”
He kept talking, but I don’t think I heard all of what he said after that.
I was expecting, “We are going to give him antibiotics, he will be fine in a week.” Or, “we need to put him on a soft food only diet, since his getting older.”
I was not, in any way, thinking something inside of him was failing.
The doctor mentioned a daily injection of fluids, to hydrate him, to try to prolong his life.
He also mentioned simple things I could do to make him more comfortable, to try to get him by until I was ready… but ultimately, when I was ready, we would need to make
a point to discuss euthanasia.
I remember, in the days that followed, there was lots of tears and slowly, a loss of hope.
There was frantic research on my part to see what could be done.
Trips to the grocery store to get him Pedialite for his dehydration
and canned pumpkin to try to ease his painful constipation.
But after five days, five days of thinking just maybe I could get him by a little longer…
I looked into the eyes of my little love – and knew it was time.
I saw more pain in those little blue eyes than I’d ever seen before.
And I just couldn’t take it.
I went to work that morning, for all of a half an hour, before I had to go home
because I couldn’t keep from crying.
My heart was breaking for my best friend.
I rushed home to find him still on the couch where I’d left him,
he was sound asleep and I just kept looking at him.
I couldn’t comprehend that this was happening-
he’d been in my life so long that I didn’t know how to even picture my life without him.
I picked up my cell phone, walked into the bedroom – out of ear shot-
and made an appointment with the vet. His last appointment, the following day at 4:40.
The next morning Latte didn’t wake me up with obnoxious meowing like he normally did for breakfast. I walked out into the living room to find him still curled up on his couch.
For a moment, I hoped in the back of my mind that maybe he’d found peace that night.
That maybe today, I would not have to do the worse thing I could ever imagine having to do,
to bring the one I love most to his death.
As I watched him lying there, breath filled his stomach and I was filled with both
sincere relief and daunting terror for the day ahead.
He woke as I sat on the couch next to him.
He looked at me and we shared a moment of knowing.
We spent the whole day together. I left his side only to get coffee and go to the bathroom.
We laid on the couch, staring out the window and napping.
At one point I brought him outside.
It was a beautiful day, warm but a slight breeze.
We laid in the grass and sat in silence while we watched nature go by.
I told him, “I don’t know if I can do this for you, but I know I have to.
If you don’t want to, if your not ready… please let me know somehow.
Walk off into the wilderness, be free for the last days of your life.
Just let me know what it is you want to do.”
And he did start to wonder off, he went further into the edge of our yard than he normally does. Then he just sat there on the edge of our yard.
I think he was thinking about it. I think he was considering what he really wanted, would it be better to be on his own..
Then he came back.
He started walking back to the house, and I followed him.
He went to the door, I opened it, and he went and laid down on the couch.
I took up my place next to him and held him.
Another few hours went by, I looked at my phone and it read 1:55pm.
I looked at him and told him we only had a couple hours left.
I will never forget the look on his face in that moment.
He looked at me with such genuine fear – it broke my heart.
I could see him telling me he was scared.
I could feel that he was ready, but scared.
“It’s going to be alright. I know it’s scary – but it’s going to be over soon.
And i’m not going to leave your side. I’m going to hold you through it all.”
I had one arm around him and one hand setting out in front of him.
His paw stretched out and held my hand, he laid his head down, and closed his eyes.
We spend those last hours cuddling in whatever reassurance we could provide each other.
Then the time came.
I carried him into the car.
We drove to the doctor.
And I spent the last minutes with my best friend as I watched him fade away.
Finally at peace.
Nothing will ever be as hard as not only having to say goodbye,
but having to be the one to say “when” to say goodbye.
In those last few days, I spent so much time hoping he would go on his own.
Anything to not have to do what I knew I needed to.
To help him feel better, before the pain got so bad he couldn’t walk anymore.
I wanted him to remember life as good.
I wanted to him to know that even up into his last breath,
that I cared.
That he was so deeply loved.
It’s still hard.
I still feel guilt.
I still question if there wasn’t more I should have tried.
But then I remember that it was only a matter of time,
I cannot stop time.
The longer I prolonged his life –
the less quality his life would have had.
It was the last gift I could have given him.
To be brave enough to be able to say goodbye,
to give him last days that were full and good.
I wanted to write this,
to find healing.
To maybe help someone else
facing the same decision I had to make,
find peace with themselves.
Mostly, I wanted to write,
to put into words what we went through
so I don’t ever forget.
There are so many good memories I have with Latte.
I was by no means a perfect parent.
I made mistakes,
but I hope I made it possible for him to have a good life.
I hope he felt loved.
I know he did.
Those were the last words I spoke to him.
Over and over, as the doctor give him the euthanasia,
I held him and told him “I love you. I love you. I love you.”
I think he left this world,
to go to a better one.
And I know i’ll see him again someday.
And every day until then,
I will miss him.
To, My little love. My Latte. My son. My best friend-
Thank you for all that you gave me, all the times you were there when I needed you.
Thank you for being the only one I could confide in, and for listening.
Thank you for allowing me to know love and to love you.
Thank you for loving me back.