sadness

The Hardest Goodbye

 

How do you say goodbye to the kitten you rescued, who actually rescued you?

I don’t know. I don’t know how you say goodbye, how you let go, when it hurts so much.

I got Yggdrasil at a time in my life when I was struggling, and he became my partner. He was always by my side. He slept next to me at night, curled up in a ball, or if I was sleeping on my side he stretched out and spooned me.

He loved to “help” me read at night. It was often annoying, I just wanted to read my book, but he kept poking his big head in between the pages, demanding attention. He loved me fiercely, and I loved him back.

When I got home from work, he was waiting for me in the window, perking up when he heard my car and then running to the door to greet me in his way–flopping onto his back to expose his big, fat belly for rubs.

He came running down the hall to me when I called his name–like a dog.

Speaking of dogs, he eventually warmed up to Bella…after months of protesting, hissing and growling, he finally decided he was taking back his status of King of the House and then eventually he grew to like Bella, I think.

As I watched Yggdrasil decline since my birthday this year, I knew our time was limited. He was losing a lot of weight. He used to be 13 pounds–very much the Fat Kitty–and the last time I took him to the vet he was 6 pounds.

I took him in late last Friday night to give him fluids and anti-nausea medicine and an appetite stimulant. Several days of not eating and not acting like himself had me desperate. I wasn’t ready to make the decision I knew I had to make, so I tried this instead. Desperate but I tried. I tried to get a timeline from the vet. She couldn’t nail it down but I pressed and asked if we had a month left. She said we’d be lucky if we had a month.

Yggdrasil started sleeping with me again in the last little time we had together. Saturday morning after the vet we cuddled in the quiet, snuggled together like two puzzle pieces. Animals do that–they complete us the way other humans can’t. They rely on us, depend on us and love us unconditionally. Yggdrasil kept head butting me and then he snuggled up into the crook of my neck and laid there, breathing softly. It was the most wonderful, loving moment we’ve ever had together. There were a few times I thought “This is it” and then he kept breathing and it was ok. We were just snuggling.

 

For over 15 years, Yggdrasil was my buddy. He was there during hard times, deaths, breakups, job changes, life changes, depression, transformation, moving, illness, health, marriage, baby…always there. Now the house feels lonely without him.

We had one more week together. All week I felt tortured about making the final decision. He had some good days, the medicine helped, and I thought Maybe we have more time, maybe I should wait….then I realized I didn’t want my last memories of him to be awful or with him in pain. I didn’t want my sweet kitty to suffer.

Michael made the appointment for me. There is no way I could have. I tried to cherish our last week together. I spent as much time cuddling Yggdrasil as I could. I got him to eat. He slept with me every night, all night long. I took photos and video. I could tell he was declining quickly.

I got off work early Friday so I could just cuddle with Yggdrasil alone for a bit. We spent Saturday together. Cuddling on the couch, watching TV, taking a nap together. It was nice to just be.

Then Michael and I took Yggdrasil outside so he could play in the grass a bit and I could get some photos and video. He was an indoor cat that really really wanted to go outside (and would try to escape every chance he got!). It was so wonderful to see him be outside one last time.

Yggdrasil’s auntie Star came over with her partner and Amy the dog walker came over. We all sat on the couch together. I had some music and a candle and just snuggled with my baby for our last moments. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and my heart hurts.

Bella was very well-behaved during the whole thing. Amy was petting her and Bella just sat on the couch with sad, scared puppy eyes. It was like she knew what was happening. I’m so glad we could say goodbye as a family.

Afterwards, Michael tried to get Maya so she could say goodbye. She ran around the house yowling and crying at  the top of her lungs and then she ran into the living room and stopped at my feet. She looked up and I put Yggdrasil on the floor, wrapped in his blanket, and Maya laid down next to him. She got to say goodbye, too.

I’m not doing well. I know it will get better with time, but I’ve never lost a pet before and I’ve definitely never had to make that huge decision before and it’s hard.

I miss him already.

 

Saying Goodbye to a Difficult Year

I wish I could say that 2011 was a fantastic year.  There were a lot of really good things that happened in 2011, which I will recap here. But honestly I have to say I am looking forward 2012 and hoping that it is a much better year for me, my friends and family that have struggled this year.

Winter

This past winter was a hard one for me. I was coming back from a running injury and that posed a lot of challenges for me in my road to staying fit. Not being able to run much depressed me. In order to maintain my fitness level I decided to switch to a new goal: cycling. In January I started biking on the trainer in the house.  I was able to find alternative activities while I couldn’t really run. I still swam, I was lifting weights at the gym on a regular basis, and we went snowshoeing a lot! I was glad that we were able to snowshoe and hike so much during the winter.

Not only did I find ways to stay active in the dark, long winter, I tried to distract myself from the disappointment of my injury as well.  I saw sports medicine doctors, physical therapists, massage therapists, I did exercises and yoga, stretching and Eastern Medicine. In the end, what worked was a $3 piece of rubber the doctor had me put in one shoe. Apparently one leg was shorter than the other and causing my IT Band issues.

I celebrated my 1 year blog anniversary. And I ended winter on a positive note: Michael and I went on vacation to sunny Arizona. I loved our vacation there! So much hiking! I swam outside! And the best part: I was able to run outside with no injuries. I was cured!

Spring

Spring arrived and I was happy to be running again. I took it slow and never really pushed myself too much when it came to running. I was just glad I was back at it. I was more focused on weight lifting, honestly. I grew to love it and I saw amazing changes in my body. I checked out Crossfit for the first time, and loved every painful minute of it!

I challenged myself a lot this last Spring. I did a much needed Sugar Detox, I tried the Slow Carb Diet (which didn’t work for me), and the biggest challenge: BIKING TO WORK. In order to train on the bike for the Portland Century I started commuting to work, weather permitting. I was tentative at first, and didn’t bike far. I was averaging about 15 miles round trip (driving half way there and then parking and biking to work).

Spring finished with us building raised beds in our yard and planting our first vegetable garden. It was fruitful and amazing to eat food straight from the ground. It was one of my favorite accomplishments of 2011.

Summer

June arrived, but the rain was still falling in Oregon. I was still able to bike to work a fair amount–but not as much as I would have liked. I got my very first pair of clip-in shoes and had to learn how to ride a bike all over again. I practiced biking all summer long, even biking to the gym, in preparation for the Portland Century:  Part 1Part 2The EndRecovery.

I went on a search for the best burger in Portland. My garden was thriving. I swam 2 miles for the first time, I was hiking a lot. It was a good, active summer.

I also celebrated my three year anniversarywith Michael. He surprised me with a surprise road trip, complete with clues! Mystery Road Trip: Part One, Mystery Road Trip: Part Two, Mystery Road Trip: Part Three. It was a wonderful time and the highlight of my summer.

One of the biggest challenges of the summer was going scale-free. It was hard at the beginning but in the end it was the best thing I could have done. It helped me get over my obsession with “that number” on the scale.

Summer ended with sadness, unfortunately. A coworker who had been battling cancer for less than a year passed away. The same day, another coworker’s young daughter was killed by a car. The whole experience made me question what was important in my life.

Fall

Fall was fast-paced and busy. It really did pass by in a flash and I felt like I missed it. Michael and I were busy traveling. My running was going great. I’d gotten my mileage up to a quicker pace and I was consistently running about 5 miles at a time. Then I started to have some issues again with my knees. I decided to try Spin class for the first time and fell in love with it! I loved the classes and being able to maintain my cycling fitness all winter was a huge bonus.

Winter

I welcomed winter with some happier thoughts. For once the winter months weren’t engulfed in rain. Portland was cold but dry in November and December. My hope is that the rest of the winter is a good one. I’m looking forward to the holidays, snowshoeing and celebrating my 32nd birthday in January.

QUESTION: How was 2011 for you? What were the highlights and not so great moments for you?