A couple weeks ago his appetite declined, he walked gingerly and rarely, stopped cleaning himself and bristled when touched. Being twelve, a senior citizen in the cat community, we suspected whatever was wrong with him would end him.
The vet told us yesterday, after loads of tests and two different doctors, he had cancer, lymphoma. He had lost half his weight and was in some pain and the doctor promised there’d be much more. So we made the trek this morning, Becky and I and the kids, to see Dartanian one last time.
Becky held him on a soft blanket in her lap. Gabriella and Gresham told him one thing they liked about him and petted him. Then the shots were given and he went to sleep. The small white room was silent except for the sound of crying.
I took the kids outside so Becky could be alone with him for a few minutes.
“Why are you sad?” Gabriella asked. “Now he’s God’s cat.”
“Yea,” I tried to explain. “He sleeps in God’s lap and runs in God’s backyard and God feeds him now. But we’re sad because we don’t get to do those things with him anymore.”
“Don’t cry,” she whispered and slid her hand on top of mine. “You can feed him again when you go to Heaven.”
Minutes ago we circled in the backyard under two peach trees and an appropriately drizzly granite gray sky. I said a prayer thanking God for cats and for Dartanian as Gresham chased a cricket across his open grave and Penelope cried for nap time to come soon. I said Amen and piled the first shovel of dirt on his cardboard coffin. Gresham shoveled the second and Gabriella the third.
We went inside, making sure to pet Josephine on our way up the stairs.