Forewarned that today’s post is a sad one, with not an ounce of humor in it. This week we said our final goodbyes to our little “girl,” Lily Magnolia. Lily was 15 1/2, and we had hoped to have her for several more years. We lost her twin sister, Pansy Gardenia, about two years ago, so I suppose it should not have come as a surprise that Lily would likewise leave us too soon.
This is the fourth time I’ve had to take one of my “girls” to the vet for euthanasia. First was Daisy Hyacinth (age 19 1/2,), then her sister, Tulip Wisteria (age 20 1/2), both of whom had come to Rhode Island with me from New Jersey. (In the space of less than two years, I lost Daisy, my mother and Tulip.) Many years later, it was Pansy Gardenia (age just 13 1/2), Lily Magnolia’s twin, who made that final journey to the vet. For me, these decisions were worse than dealing with my cancer.
I’m reminded of when my father took our elderly Beagle, Cindy, to be euthanized. I think I was in seventh grade at the time. He didn’t tell the family what was happening; he just left quietly with her early one morning and came back without her some hours later.
When he told us about her cancer and what he had done, I was angry. “You didn’t give us the chance to say goodbye to her,” I wailed. Looking back, I realize that he was sparing us the pain of goodbye. I wish I could tell him how grateful I am now for his strength back then, how much I appreciate what he did for us, and for Cindy.
Lily had been more of her father’s little girl, as Pansy “owned” me. But once Pansy was gone, and especially after I retired a year and a half ago and spent so much time at home, Lily became my little girl, too. She would keep me company when I was on either of my computers, on a wool shawl at the back of the desk, or on a pillow on the antique high chair that I set up near me, especially for her.
Lily was the only one of our cats (five in all, with just Luke still with us) who was friendly to strangers. Everyone commented on how pretty she was, and how sweet. Even at her senior age, people said she looked like a kitten. She fancied herself a supervisor of any workmen who had projects in our house, and was especially curious about drop cloths and toolboxes.
About two or three weeks ago, Lily started to have trouble with her back legs. After various examinations, tests, procedures and medications, the vet ruled out anything that was easily treatable. We’ll never know for certain what took her from us, but the most likely answer was either spinal lymphoma or a saddle thrombus (blood clot that blocked the flow to her legs).
We had put Daisy and Tulip through treatments that didn’t really give them quality time in the extra months we had with them. We decided long ago that we wouldn’t subject Pansy, Lily and Luke to extreme measures just to give us more time to have the courage to make a decision that was inevitable. X-rays and blood work we’d do for certain; but no chemotherapy; no hospitalizations; no surgeries.
We made Lily as comfortable as possible for the two weeks when we went through several tests and tried various medications, and I struggled to get the strength to make the decision I knew had to be made. For a few days, we had some hope that she might rally enough to be with us for a few more months, or even just a few more weeks. By Monday night, it was clear that was not to be.
I spent Tuesday morning saying my final goodbyes and we took her in that afternoon to send her to the Rainbow Bridge, where I know that Pansy was waiting for her.
Luke seems confused about what has happened to his remaining sister. I know he’ll provide some comfort to me. He’s his mommy’s boy and often sleeps near me. But he’s never been interested in what I do all day long in my office. It’s ironic that the cat we rescued from a neighbor that had left him to fend for himself outdoors would live longer than his mostly-indoor sisters of his same age. I’m grateful to have him, but he is not Lily Magnolia.
There was only one Lily. There will ever be only one Lily.
Kisses to you, my beautiful girl. I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry I could not save you.