It is time.
We lay her down on her favourite brown fleece blanket in the balcony on a giant brown table where she once loved to sit. Dr Forkan asks us to say our goodbyes. I bend down and look into her beautiful tired eyes. It’s clear to me that she is ready to go. Nassim holds her paw. We tell her how much we love her and how wonderful our lives have been with her in it. We bring in other cats one by one and get them to say bye to her.
The evening is gentle today. The sky is getting dark preparing us for what is to come. The first injection relaxes her body. We clutch each other tightly as her eyes remain half open. I can see that life is frozen in her pupils. She is relaxed. We say bye to her again. We know it is the right thing to do. But it hurts like hell. I feel a knot forming in my throat. I can’t breathe. The second injection is in, Cherry takes her last deep breath and then I see her soul slipping out and floating into the dark evening sky.
I can barely see anything through the tears. My husband moves away from the table and turns his back towards us. Dr. Forkan is visibly upset. We all stand still for few moments trying to come to terms with what we have witnessed.
Dr. Forkan looks at us and says, ”This is the best decision in the most ideal location. She loved outdoors and she is surrounded by you all in her favourite spot. I wish every cat had this.”
It’s all over in matter of seconds.
Her pain has disintegrated in this one single moment of truth. This tiny girl who showed up unannounced at our home in Mirdiff in 2014 has changed us forever. She was so feral that we spent months gaining her trust and eventually a year later decided to integrate her with our brood as we could not leave her behind when we moved out of Mirdiff.
She was always on top of everything. Sitting on top of a wall, on top of my car, on top of a tree. So we named her Cherry; as in Cherry on top! She remained feral. Her history with humans had not been great. She had been abused and had lived rough until she came to live with us. She was our garden cat. Always in the bushes, soaking in the sun, snoozing in the balcony, living under the blue sky. She took shine to Momo who was not so enamored by her, but tolerated her. Through the years she did mellow down a bit. We were occasionally able to hold her. But it was clear, her soul remained wild.
Now comes the hard part. How do does one cope with grief? I lost my dad in 96. A long time ago. But I managed to live through that. Since then there has been barrage of deaths all around me. Uncles and aunts have left. Baba left few years ago. Many people I once knew have gone. Some cats have said their goodbyes. I know that over a period of time the pain will become dormant. It will remain hidden like a dull edge of a once sharp knife. You know it’s there, but it won’t cut and draw blood.
I know the drill now. Give it time and this too shall pass routines. I have heard all the TED talks that tell you that time heals everything and everyone. I have enough knowledge to understand that soul is indestructible and it only her body that has left us. At a rational level I know it all. And yet my pain feels real.
I would like to believe that Cherry is still in the garden, sleeping in her favourite spot under the sun. She is running wild trying to chase a bug. She is climbing trees and being a cat.
She taught us a big lesson that I must always remember – Death is a celebration of life!
Goodbye Cherry! Until we meet again……