Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Endings Mirror Beginnings--The Dowager Feline Clancy's Last Lesson

I am finally able to write about my beloved Dowager Feline Clancy. I didn't think I could share how much she meant to me, but I can now that I have time and perspective. One thing I have learned about writing is that my books always have endings that mirror the beginnings. They end happily and they reflect the growth of the main characters.

As hard as it was to say goodbye to my DFC, I feel our goodbye did reflect the growth of our own characters over the past 19 years. She did grow up with me. She watched me become a mother, a writer, a fully actualized woman. I watched her become a loyal, sweet, feisty fighter who gave the best of herself to our family despite the many changes in our lives. Our ending mirrored our beginning. We started with love and we ended with love. And I believe in my heart that we will see each other again just across the Rainbow Bridge.

First of all, Clancy was a kitten. Sweet, loud, small, a bit of a pee pee cat, but always sweet. She was a true Tourtie and had a bit of a squeamish personality, but we all loved her. We got her when she was 7 weeks old. She was loud and she was feisty. My husband heard her first. So she was eager to be picked. And we did. After we picked her, she became quiet.

Oh, she was quietly naughty. She pee'd  in inappropriate places, she was silly, and she was inordinately jealous of my daughter after she was born. Eventually, DFC made her peace with my daughter and all her friends. She was also inordinately good at adjusting. Dowager Feline Clancy was my faithful companion. She was my comfort through 3 miscarriages--a constant purring reminder that life does go on despite my immense grief. She was my happy hour buddy--she got me every day at 5P and sat on my lap, and she was so much my writer cat. Every day Clancy would come to me and sit quietly while I worked. She'd watch my words cross the screen, her paws on the laptop and her eyes moving left to right with each new line being laid down. My sweet muse.

And she was silent. Never meowed unless hurt or hungry or thirsty. She just purred. A lot. This cat was very happy and content with us.

We moved 3 times with Clancy. She put up with TN, VA and AL. She tolerated my daughter. She grew to have a grudging respect for my daughter's cat Mischief. She played with Mischief even in her old age. Every night she'd come to bed and sleep on the pillow above my head. She was a shadow, a feline sister, a gentle spirit.

I loved her. And when she first came down with illness I was in denial. She was strong. Stalwart. And still quiet. But renal failure had hit her. Soon she was very noisy. First for me, second for food, third for water. Eventually her life ebbed away. Still, we hung on. Clancy was my baby. I wanted her to show me when she was ready, but I wanted to hold on to her for as long as possible. I couldn't bear the idea of her dying. And I think I cried myself through every other loss I'd had through the years again and again. I shed so many tears that my soul became a parched wasteland. Then she dropped to such a low weight and she was so sad and she had no desire to be with us because she hurt. But still she had her feisty self: she'd fool me into believing she had more time with the jump to the chair in the sun on the veranda, the purr in my arms, the sweet nature that made her mine.

And oh it was so hard.

Finally, she was unable to be herself. She was unable to be a cat with us. She was unable to be a part of our family. And I had to make the hard decision. The decision that still brings tears to my eyes. After years of silence, I had to hear her cry. Had to hear her beg. Had to hear her ask me to let her go. And my god it was the hardest plea to hear. I didn't want to hear it. I wanted to bring my Clancy back. My sweet DFC. But I couldn't.

So we three, The Physicist and the Teen and I went to the vet. We had to say our goodbye. I don't know how I could say it without my family with me. I don't know how I could have survived this goodbye without them by my side. My darling DFC, her paws on my shoulders and my head to her forehead. My words to her. For her faithful companionship. For her love. For her gift of being with me through the greatest years of my life. We had our sweet goodbye. A sad and yet proper goodbye for she was my good and faithful companion.

My darling DFC taught me how to love. She taught me how to live. She taught me how to say goodbye. She taught me how to love again.

For Clancy. My kitten, my cat, my DFC. May we meet again at the Rainbow Bridge. May you watch my words cross the screen again. And may your capacity to love help me in all my endeavors.


Ellen Brickley said...

Such a beautiful post, Christine, and a fitting tribute to such a wonderful pet.

Losing a pet is so hard, as they mean so much to us. You made the right decision, but it is never easy, we had to do it for our dog in 2004. The vet opened the door to let his spirit out after he had passed, which meant a lot to me.

Take care xx

Pam Asberry said...

I had to do the same with my cat back in 2003, but she was only nine years old, and it was just she and I in the vet's office. I will never stop missing my Celestine. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Christine said...

Hi Ellen: I love how your Vet opened the door to let your dog's spirit out. So beautiful. Yes, it is very hard to say goodbye to our fur babies. I will never stop missing DFC.

Christine said...

Hi Pam: I'm sad you were alone with Celestine. But I'm glad you were with her and could help her cross over to the Rainbow Bridge. Our pets are our most unconditional loves in the world. Hard to deal with humans in contrast to dealing with pets.

Sandy Elzie said...

I've buried several feline "friends" over my years, so I understand how difficult it is. Very insightful post...thanks for sharing from your heart.

Christine said...

Thanks Sandy. It's so hard to say goodbye to them, but they are waiting for us. And we meet again, they'll be strong and healthy and full of love.


Anonymous said...

You brought tears to my eyes, Christine. I have dog, a yellow lab. Honey's the light of my life. She's over 12 now having problems with her joints. We give her medicine that seems to be helping but I dread the day of our good-bye. She's helped me raise my boys and considers them hers.
So true about unconditional love of our pet. There's nothing like it. Thanks for sharing.


Katherine Bone said...

The loss of those we love, including our darling pets who love us unconditionally, is the hardest thing we must get through. What a great homage to your Dowager!

Blessings to you!

Anne Gallagher said...

Oh Christine. I'm still weepy. It's so sad to lose such a faithful companion. My first cat was 22 when she passed. My second was 19. It's strange to think of them being gone, they were both with me all of my adult life.

We have a new cat now, a really weird androngenous kind of cat. I'm still not sure if it's a boy or girl. It spits and hisses if we get too close, yet sleeps on my daughter's head every night. She was older when we got her, and I think she may have been abused or abandoned, but she got rid of the mice in the basement, so to me she's worth her weight in gold. I just wish she didn't cross the street.

Christine said...

Hi Sia: I think the best advice I got was you'll know when it is time to let go when your pet stops being "Your pet." I know it sounds weird, but it was very clear to me at the end. Still, she did fool me. I remember the night before we went to the vet. For the first time in weeks DFC came to the family room and held her court. My daughter and her friends were all dressed up for the premier of the 7th and last HP movie. DFC was in her glory. I was shocked. She'd never been that way with all of my teen's friends. But it was like her goodbye party. I still feel tears when I think about her that night.

Your lab sounds adorable and wonderful. May you have many many more years with her.


Christine said...

Hi Kathy: I know you have just said goodbye to a beloved pet. Many hugs to you!! I think that our pets are just the best vessels of love. Saying goodbye to these creatures is beyond hard.

Many hugs!

Christine said...

Hi Anne: Your new furbaby sounds like my daughter's lovely cat, Mischief. She is a one-horse girl and loves my daughter to bits. She also sleeps on the pillow next to my daughter all night. When she was younger, she slept on top of my daughter's head, too. She was adopted from the shelter when she was 6 weeks old. Loved to bits. But she is also very territorial and hissy. Seems likes she wants love, but when we go to pet her she hisses. Only my daughter has the special touch! But Mischief does watch over her. Like a cat guard. If Missy is in our room, I always go check my teen at night. Just in case.

I can't believe you had a furbaby live till 22~~ wow!! And they do grow up with us, don't they? I still think about Clancy being there for all these firsts. And I will always miss her, too.


Louisa Cornell said...

What a lovely tribute to lovely spirit! Her long life is a testament to the loving care you gave her. You will never know what a gift it was to her. And she STILL watches the word tumble across the screen. Trust me. My mother's ancestors believe all guardian angels are animals. They also believe when our time comes we come to a great chasm. On the other side is the Great Spirit and every animal we have ever encountered in our lives. The animals tell the Great Spirit who is worthy to cross over and who is not. Those deemed unworthy fall into the chasm - forever in darkness, forever falling alone and away from the light and love of the Great Spirit for all eternity. Clancy will be there when your time comes and you will have no trouble at all crossing over.

We are put on this earth to learn how to love, to live and to be what God meant us to be. Animals don't live as long as we do because they already know.

Christine said...

Hi Louisa: I just saw this comment and it brought tears to my eyes. I love the idea of my pets telling the Great Spirit I am worthy to cross over with them. And that they are our guardian angels. They do know how to love and live and be what God intended. Thank you so much for your wisdom.