This post was written some months ago, and was the last in the Conversations series. It would be true to say that everyone who knew Chester was heartbroken when I announced his passing.
Even now, I still believe he is here with us, in spirit, though sometimes I swear I hear him coming down the passage, or is sitting on the floor, behind me in the office, waiting to hear the next piece of writing and offer his often sage comments.
But, no. When I turn around he’s not these, and I stop, for a moment or two, and remember.
This was Chester.
For a few days, we have been monitoring Chester.
He hasn’t been talkative, in fact, I have been mistaking his usual taciturn nature in the mornings for what it really was.
A total lack of interest in anything.
He did not come down in the morning. OK, so, sometimes he cracks a hissy fit and totally ignores me.
But, this is different.
After a few days he returns and gives me the benefit of his wisdom.
Today, he hasn’t shown at all, so I went looking for him.
He was in his usual hiding spot, lying down. I give him a pat, he opes his eyes and looks at me. This is a cat who is not well.
I pick him up, and there’s no immediate fight back. He doesn’t normally like to be carried anywhere. Today, he’s putty in my hands.
I call the vet. She can fit him in now if I run. I’m running.
He goes into his carry basket without a fight. OK, now I know something is definitely wrong.
There’s not a sound between home and the clinic. Usually, he screams the place down, trying to get him into the carrier, and then makes as much noise as possible when driving.
Today there is nothing, not even a whimper.
The vet comes out. She has been seeing him for the last ten years and they are well acquainted.
We see her every six months. Without fail, for shots and stuff.
I take him out of the carrier and he lies down on the metal bench.
She looks at him, then picks him up.
She weighs him.
He’s lost two kilos, and that’s a lot for a cat.
I can see it’s bad news.
He’s 19 years old, long past the average life expectancy.
To keep him alive now would be inhumane. He has, apparently, reached the end of his life, and has lost the desire to eat or to do anything. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it.
She says, it just happens.
It will be quick and it will be painless.
I can see in his eyes that it’s what he wants.
I said goodbye, went outside and sat in the car, and cried.
There’s going to be a lot more tears before this day is out.