Monday, January 7, 2008

All Good Things Must Come To An End

In the late 80's through most of the 90's I was working in the Open Space Management division of a municipal government in Maryland. One morning in mid-February of 1990 I walked into our tool shed and discovered a trail of oil blobs. I followed them to their end and discovered an even bigger oil blob. I picked it up to see what it was and it let out a pitiful little meow. It was a kitten, she had fallen into a 5 gallon bucket of used motor oil which one of our genius mechanics had left outside and despite her tiny size she had somehow managed to get out.

Being a cat lover I took her home, cleaned her up and waited to see if she'd live. After a couple of days with oil coming from both ends she seemed to be improving so I adopted the poor thing and named her Valdez. This was not long after the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill and she looked like one of it's victims so it seemed a suitable name. She's been my companion for 18 years, the closest thing to a child I'll ever have. She's also been the only real constant in my life during that period.

On January 2, within days of her eighteenth birthday I took her to the vet. She had been eating less and that morning her breathing seemed labored. An x-ray showed fluid in her chest which was preventing her lungs from fully expanding so off to the specialist we went. They tapped her chest and pulled out 4 ounces of fluid, in the process her lung punctured so she still had difficulty breathing. They had to tap her chest several more times to remove air which was having the same effect as the fluid has been. They had to keep her overnight so they could keep her on oxygen and drain the air again if needed.

I got to bring her home late the next afternoon, her lung had sealed and she was breathing normally again and had been eating. The vet told me the bad news, the fluid in her chest had been sent for testing and came back positive for carcinoma. My little girl was dying of cancer. Anything diagnostic or preventive would be invasive or at her age may prove to be worse than the disease itself. So, I took her home to spoil her rotten for the remainder of her life. I refused to allow her last little bit of time to be uncomfortable or traumatic, she deserved better.

For 2 days she ate like a little pig but today she was again having trouble breathing so I took her back to the emergency clinic for another x-ray. The results of the exam weren't good, as a result she died in my arms calmly, quietly and peacefully. She was a sweet, gentle and loving companion and I feel lucky to have had her in my life for such a long time. She brought me nothing but joy and I can only hope that I gave her as much happiness as she gave me.