I don’t want to write this blog post.
I don’t want to have a reason to write this post. I’m not ready for that reason, and don’t expect I would have been ready next week, or next month, or next year.
But Grady was ready this morning. Our love, our Grady-bug, the snuggle bunny of my heart and the striped angel of the Tabby’s Place reception desk, left this earth around 10:30 am today.
I’m sorry for the shock I know this will be to you, as it was to all of us.
Grady’s decline, which started Sunday night, happened so quickly that, before we had enough information to write a proper update, he was begging us in every way he could to let him go.
The Cliffs Notes version of the very painful last few days goes something like this: on Sunday night, Danielle was attentive and loving enough to notice that Grady seemed to be having some extra respiratory effort. Just to be extra-careful, she brought him to the emergency/referral veterinarian, who determined that our boy had fluid on his chest.
Still, I held out hope that it could be just an infection – or even heart disease, which, while not good news, might give Grady a few months or more. Anything but the cancer.
But this morning, as I arrived at Tabby’s Place, heard my cell phone ringing and saw that it was Jonathan calling me on his day off, I knew.
He’s really uncomfortable, Angela, and having a hard time breathing. I’m over an hour away, and I don’t want him to have to wait that long. Go quickly.
One of the wise things Jonathan does when interviewing a potential new staff member at Tabby’s Place is to tell him or her, with no sugar-coating, that part of this job and this joyful place is Very Very Sad and will break your heart at the deepest level. I remember very clearly his asking me, do you think that’s something you can handle?
Of course, in the moment when you don’t have to handle it, it’s all theoretical and so quite manageable to say, Yes, I can, it’s the price we pay for loving cats deeply and fiercely, but it’s well worth it.
I still believe that, even today. But, oh, the ache. My heart has hurt so badly so many times before over cats we’ve lost – Tails, Lillian, Taos – but, I will confess, never, ever like this. Grady was – is – in a class of his own.
At the emergency/referral vet, the doctor brought our Grady out to me, wrapped in the biggest, softest of blankets. Even the vet was tearful as she confessed that this is a “very special boy,” amazingly gentle and affectionate and “just so good” through all the necessary poking and prodding.
Initially overcome by the simple joy of seeing him again after missing him for the last three days he’s been at the specialist, I wrapped my arms around Grady and kissed his head for every one of you.
His eyes widened and he took a deep, labored breath, then another. If I could have translated the so-intent look in those golden eyes we love so much, he looked to be saying, Please, please have mercy on me. Let me go for now. Just for now…not forever, just for now.
I believe with every fiber of my being that our Grady is now more alive than he’s ever been, that he is by no means gone. My peace – which, I’ll confess, has been hard to find and harder to hang onto today – is in knowing that we will see him again.
But tonight, to be entirely honest with you dear friends who I’ve come to cherish as we’ve loved Grady together, tonight, my heart is aching terribly. One of the gentlest, most loving and sunny-through-it-all feline spirits that this world has ever seen has passed out of our sight.
I’ll close with a quote from C.S. Lewis’ final book in the Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle, which, I do believe, offers a glimpse of Grady’s Really Real Reality now that he’s passed from our sight:
“‘There was a real railway accident,’ said Aslan softly. ‘Your father and mother and all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadowlands – dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is over: this is the morning.’
“And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has ever read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
I’ll hug you again in the Great Story, Grady. Until then, dance on, darling boy.