Monday, May 28, 2012

COMMENTARY: A last wish -- fulfilled to the best of my ability

In her roommate, Kevin's, own words:
"She's an extraordinary lady. She was 8 years old when I brought her home after her first family abandoned her because they'd brought in a kitten she couldn't/wouldn't get along with. She gave me three days, and decided I was fine. That's it. I'm fine. I want that on my tombstone:

A decent roommate/Not bad as a human male/alive he was fine."
It is with great regret that I write that I could not fulfill the last wish of Bella's owner. I am presenting the last wish here and then following it up with what I hope is the best way to absolve my own pains and regrets:
"I hope your holidays have been good. All of my siblings were here for the first time in 20 years or more for Christmas and we had a pleasant one. No gifts except each other's loved company.

I need a favor from you at some time in the next year. I'm dying and probably won't last another year. I'm ok with that, I've had 8 years to adjust to the proposition. But more and more lately I've realized that Bella is going to outlive me, and I've been worried about what happens to her.

This afternoon I called the vet I adopted her from and they told me to bring her back whenever I was ready and they'd find her a new home. Now she has a place to go, and my hope is that since they found me to adopt her, they can find someone else to care for her. It's better than going to the pound.

So here's the favor I need. I'm not going to die suddenly (unless hauling groceries up those stairs kills me) but I will likely die quickly. I don't want to take her there now, she likes living with me and I think she helps keep me alive. So at some point I'll head to the hospital for a last time and when that happens I'll send you an email or give you a call and ask you to take her to the vet.

I ask this because Dad is now confined to a nursing home, my mother is only semi-competent, and my neighbor is not an animal person. The vet is only a couple of miles away from my house, perhaps four miles from yours. and I have a carrier for her (which you're free to keep). She's not social, but she's not aggressive either.

If you would prefer to keep her yourself, and she fits in, I'm ok with that. I think Bella had a poor (not bad) life before me and I just want her to be as happy as I can manage. My siblings will have to figure out how to care for my parents.

Note: my current health is currently private, please don't disclose it to anyone.

Thank you both for considering this,"

Tony and I readily agreed to this request. Not just for Bella's human, but for her, too. Eleven is still young for a cat--if the vet was willing to place her, we were more than willing to transport her.

We'd heard only sporadically from Kevin. That was quite common for him. He admitted to not liking people very well and we did not wish to intrude.

To our shock, a mutual friend advised us Kevin had died--in fact, several days before. We moved into Emergency Mode. It was Friday afternoon (of course) and we knew we had limited time:

First, we called the vet's to see if Bella had been taken there by a family member. No.

Next, the police to find out what to do. They advised us a family member had found Bella's owner and the shelter came to get the pet.

Next, we tried to locate family members via Facebook and Directory Assistance. Neither one was quick.

Next, we called the Animal Shelter. When we didn't hear back within an hour, we drove there in person, hoping we could find Bella among the cats. This entailed a heroic effort on the part of the shelter staff. They went through days of records and walked us through the entire facility in the hopes we'd find Bella.

Ultimately, we discovered Bella had been surrendered by a family member at the time our friend died. We were too late. With an owner surrender, the shelter has a day to make a decision on the pet. They'd evaluated Bella's health and found she had runny eyes and a URI and opted to euthanize her for health reasons.

After we left, the call from our friend's sister came in. The family had known that our friend had arrangements, but they didn't know what they were. Tony and I both shed more than a few tears over this situation.

I personally believe that Kevin and Bella are together again. It wasn't what Kevin wanted--but it is what it is. 

Why am I writing this?  If you have animals and you have not made some kind of preparations for them, you need to. Your beloved animal family should not die when you do. As I am researching this question for Tony and I, I'll have the answers for you in a follow-up entry. 

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, May 2012

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