In the movies, when someone dies, you run your hand gently over their face, and their eyes close. It doesn’t work like that in real life.
I’m talking about a cat, but it didn’t feel like that at the time. Her name was Beauty, but pet names are more suggestions than facts in our house, and lately she was called Floobey Boosh more often than not. Boosh came from “Beauty,” and “Floobey” came from… well, it’s a long story.
Beauty used to be… portly, would be a kind way of saying it. The Epitome of Obesity would be a slightly less kind way, and that’s how the Wiswell Sisters referred to her for some time. Then it was just Chubby, which became Flubby, which became Floobey.
The cat didn’t mind. Cat’s ignore anything that isn’t a can of food being opened anyway.
She was twenty-plus years old, which is about ninety-seven in human years. She was old and fraile, but dammit the girl just wouldn’t die. For a while, I was convinced that she would outlive all of us, which led to another one of her names: Rasputin.
She’d been going down hill for a while now. She wasn’t as quick to jump up on the couch, and when she laid down, you could tell that she was trying to align her joints just so. She was deaf, and her eyesight was going, and she couldn’t really clean herself anymore.
When she got an abscess in her jaw, we had it drained, gave her a course of antibiotics, and hoped for the best, but the infection came back. The vet said that one of her teeth would have to come out… but that at Beauty’s age, she just wouldn’t survive the anesthesia. There was really only one thing to do.
She sat on my lap all last night, and slept in bed with us all night long, cuddled up next to us, nestled in our arms. And I know that it’s just my sentimental side wanting this to be true, but even Pixel, who thinks everything on earth exists to be hunted down and nibbled into submission, seemed to take it easy on her last night.
Beauty slept in our bed until half past eleven this morning. She had her favorite food for breakfast, and some of the treats that she seemed to love. She sat in my lap during the car ride, alternating between looking out the window and trying to wedge herself under the brake pedal. When we parked, she ate more of her treats from the palms of our hands.
We waited for the vet for what felt like forever, but it was probably less than ten minutes. Beauty lay on her side, on a blanket made of soft felt. We cradled her face and stroked her hair.
It was over faster than I expected. In a scant few seconds the vet took the stethoscope away and told us to spend as much time with her as we needed. He said he was sorry, and then we were alone.
She didn’t look any different. There was no eerie stillness, no sense that she wasn’t really there. It was just Boosh. And her eyes wouldn’t close.