Even when we get “bonus” time, unexpected “extra” time, with a very sick cat like Esme, goodbye still doesn’t seem right or okay when it comes.
Es was the kind of cat who made it hard to tell when she was really hurting. Her blithe spirit and propensity to purr through all circumstances hid her discomfort. We all took it as a good, “normal-for-Esme” sign when she sprinted (OK, “sprinted” is a relative term) into Tashi‘s crate yesterday morning. This has been her favorite shared snooze-spot with Tony.
But when Esme stayed – and stayed, and stayed, and stayed – in that same spot into the afternoon, her tiny sides heaving with effort in each breath, we knew that we had left “normal-for-Esme” territory.
Chris, a cherished long-distance Tabby’s Place family member (who comes from England to spend several weeks with us each year), took Esme to the emergency vet yesterday afternoon. Honestly, I didn’t countenance the idea that it might be her final trip. Some part of me chose not to even “go there.”
But, whether I was prepared or not, Esme was very ready for release. Between the growing tumors in her chest and the fluid building up due to her heart disease, her body was weary. In Chris’ loving arms, Esme left this earth as quietly, peacefully and purringly as she’d led her life. My heart thanks Chris for staying with our tiniest tortie, holding her and seeing her off to the next stage of her journey even as his own heart broke.
I remind myself, over and over again, what a blissed-out life, complete with a boyfriend, that Esme had at Tabby’s Place. The coda to her life was its sweetest melody, as she found her feline and human soulmates in the Lobby. I remind myself that this final season was a “bonus,” unexpected by the experts, and that every sweet day of this borrowed time was a gift.
That’s when I need the deeper reminders.
Esme’s death is not fair in that she didn’t deserve it, didn’t deserve an iota of suffering along the way.
But, Esme’s life is equally unfair in that we didn’t “deserve” the gift of her friendship. We did nothing to merit the blessing of loving and being loved by such a soul.
It is all grace.
And, I trust, the same grace that lavished Esme into our lives is bearing her to a pain-free, tearless eternity with the One who loves her best. Perhaps the most gloriously “unfair” thing of all is the fact that, by no merit of our own, we can share this same eternity in the heart of Love.
Esme’s passing is not fair. But it is ultimately swallowed up in the greater “unfairness” that is grace – and her death is ultimately swallowed up in life. We will see her and love her again, when all of our love is endless and perfected.
And, in the meantime, we ache. But let’s not forget that the ache is temporary. After darkness comes great light.
We will see you in the marvelous light, beloved Esme.
Thank you, dear Tabby’s Place family, for loving her so well.