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Our cat is dying. I'm finally able to admit that to myself. For several days he hasn't eaten. He's lost weight and grown weaker. He rarely moves from his favorite spot, except when we carry him to the sink to get fresh water.
Hobbes, and his twin brother Calvin came into my life 17 years ago. It was the first time I was actually living on my own – my first on-air job in Harrisburg, PA. They were rejects: returned to the Siamese breeder because they were too rambunctious for the first buyer's household… but they were a perfect pair for me. Yin & Yang.
When I first brought them home they were just tiny handfuls of fuzz. They were so small they couldn't jump high enough to get on my bed. After I'd lifted them up they'd curl up across my neck and purr themselves to sleep.
These nights, I lift Hobbes up again into the bed. He's too frail to make it on his own. He and Calvin still curl up by my head – but I don't hear Hobbes purr anymore.
It's been a good life. They moved with me to North Carolina and back to DC. Came along on almost every weekend trip (and sometimes slept in my lap while I drove). They welcomed a husband, then each human baby into our lives and taught my son & daughter about unconditional love.
Now Hobbes is teaching us that love sometimes means letting go. I've been trying to gently prepare my children for the inevitable – but I don't know how I'll actually go through with it. I've been secretly wishing he would just die in his sleep so I don't have to take him for that long, last ride to the vet.
I'm not sure how to handle it. Do I turn on the "reporter" switch and push the emotions down by concentrating on the clinical facts? Do I let the children say goodbye?
I know it's coming. Could be a day, could be a week, and could be a month. I can spend hundreds of dollars on blood tests, thousands on treatments - but the truth is, there's no stopping it. So until then, we'll give him special attention. We'll brush his fur to make up for all the times we forgot, carry him around to all the sunny spots in the house, and take him outside one more time to sniff the spring air after a soft rain.
When you become a parent, pet or human - you accept that there will be a lot of tough decisions along the way. This, I'm coming to realize, is one of the worst.