Tuesday, July 23

On saying good-bye.


In loving memory of Rocky.
Rest in peace, my sweet, handsome boy.
February 12, 1999 - July 12, 2013

(This is the last successful instant photo that I took of Rocky.)
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Sometimes I still can't believe that Rocky is gone. I can see him so clearly, in my mind, in all of his favorite places. I can see him sitting on the wall, waiting to come inside. I can see him trotting up the driveway with a style that was all his own. I can feel him next to me when I get into bed at night to read. And when I cook bacon or grate cheese. Outside by the grill. Nestled between the plants in the garden. Rocky is everywhere in my heart and in my mind and, I hope that in some way his spirit is still with us.

Rocky has been a huge presence in my life since the moment I picked him up at a laundromat in Pittsburgh. He was a tiny little fluff ball, but no matter, he took over the house. He followed me around and slept with me at night. He saw me through a bad break up, a new love affair, countless bouts of depression, and stayed by my side even when I played records too loud during late night solo dance parties. He moved to Brooklyn with me and then back to Pittsburgh and then all the way to Santa Fe. And he still followed me around and slept with me at night. He gave me so much love and joy and laughter. We still have Simon, another wonderful kitty, but no matter, the house feels so quiet and empty to me without Rocky.

Back when we found out about his tumor, we knew he was going to die, but that knowledge in no way prepared us for the reality of losing him. Even as his conditioned worsened, I think that somewhere in the back of my mind, I still thought he would be around for a much longer time. And then in what seemed like a matter of days, he was gone.

The changes in him were gradual, and really, he was a trooper through the whole thing. He never isolated himself from us and he never struck out at us even though we are quite sure that he was experiencing more discomfort than we were aware of at the time. He was sweet and loving and I think he wanted to stay with us as long as he could. When it got to be more than he could bear, he let us know that it was time.

That morning, he ate a little bit and hung outside for awhile, two of his most favorite things to do. The previous evening, we had made an appointment with an at home vet for a consultation, although when we got up that morning, we knew that it was going to be the end for him. I am grateful that I got to spend so much time with him. That he could still eat some. That he could still go outside. I am grateful that I got to spend that morning with him, telling him how much I love him, what a wonderful kitty he has been, and that I really didn't want to say good-bye, but I knew he needed to move on out of his broken body.

I sat on the bed with him, giving him space, and at one point, he walked over to me and tried his best to nestled his head into my leg. He couldn't settle in one position for very long, but when he did that, it meant so much to me. 

We had never even met this vet before, but she was wonderful. She was so kind and gentle with Rocky and with us. And that is exactly what we all needed. She took one look at him and said that she felt that it was time. (She said that if she didn't think it was time, she would tell us that as well. This is something that I really needed to hear from a vet.) She said that the greatest act of love is being able to let go. I am grateful that she came into our lives right when we needed her and that Rocky never had to be in a car again and did not have to spend his final moments in a place that he hated.

We settled down on the couch with Rocky between the two of us. The vet gave him a sedative first that would knock him out. We pet him and loved him and said our good-byes again while his body slowly relaxed into the medication. Because he was basically gone at that point, the final shot did not bring him pain at all. He died peacefully at home, on the couch, surrounded by love. And as heartbreaking as it is, I am grateful we could help him have a gentle end. I miss him so much, but I know it is better that he is no longer uncomfortable or in pain. He is kitty heaven, frolicking and eating as much as his heart desires.

He will live on in our hearts forever. 

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Two Fridays ago, I shared with many of you on Twitter, Flickr and Facebook that we had to say good-bye to Rocky. And then I felt rather odd about it, because I was so deep into my grief, and, well, how much of that do we share on social media? Really, it was for me, and for Rocky, because I shared so much of him with all of you and in my head, at that time, it was important that people know. And I needed comfort from friends even if it only consisted of internet hugs from people I've never even met in person.

And, as I write this post, I wonder if I have shared too much, but in the end, it doesn't matter. It is for me. And for Rocky. And Will and Simon. We all share in the love and the grief, and for me, sometimes that means sharing on this website as well. I have shared so many of Rocky's stories here and this is part of his story. (And certainly not the whole story.) You can find more of his stories in the set dedicated to him on my Flickr. And this is one of my favorite posts about him on this website. I miss him so much and there are so many tears, but I am grateful that I have so many memories via photos that make me smile and laugh. It helps.

3 comments:

  1. This brought tears to my eyes. We were so sorry to hear the news. I think you have honored him by remembering it all and sharing the photos. He was such a great kitty, so happy I got the chance to meet him.

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  2. This is almost exactly the story of my first cat's end of life. He was also a gorgeous black and white boy. This has brought back so many memories, good and bad, but I cherish them all now. You really don't understand just how unconditional and infinite your capacity for love is until you go through having to let them go. I know how hard the grief is and send much love and comfort to you.

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  3. This story is beautiful, painful and real. Thank you for sharing it Juli, for opening your heart to us. I wish I could do more than just send you my thoughts and my prayers, I wish I could wrap you up in a great big bear hug.

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