We put Bean to sleep on Tuesday. She had an infection and then kidney failure. I was typically tuned out to her distress over the weekend, but I woke up on Monday morning and she was lying motionless on the hallway carpet, and the reality that her last days were here hit me. I was not a great kitty mommy to her; she was always “Chris’s cat,” and he did all of the feeding and litter-changing and parenting to her. He got her in college, 20 years ago…his whole adult life. There was a time when she would come to me in the mornings; I would wake up and go to the bathroom, and as soon as I was sitting on the toilet she would be there, waiting for me to put my hand down so she could rub her cheek against it in a way that said she was petting herself, and I was just a convenient object offering the right amount of resistance. But that consistency was nice, and it’s weird to me that I never really noticed when or why it stopped happening, except to say that I always took her for granted.
After tests on Monday which came back really bad, we took her in on Tuesday to be euthanized. She had been unable to move and barely able to lift her head for a couple of days at that point. I said goodbye to her and apologized for being pretty bad kitty mommy to her. I probably didn’t really need to be that for her; Chris was such a devoted and loving dad. We took her body home and Chris waited while I went and got Clem from school. Clem got to pet her body and say goodbye, and then we wrapped her in an old cloth (a monkey printed sheet that was wrapped around the cushions of a loveseat my mom had when I was a kid, so older than even Bean) and put her in the hole Chris had dug out back right next to where Bool, her brother, is buried. We each put in flower (a giant red cactus bloom) and I read One Art, one of my favorite poems. Then Chris filled in the dirt, and we planted a Sweet Box over her, a shade loving plant I’d never heard of before, but one we found on a walk down to the garden center earlier that day. It’s a winter blooming plant, so we’ll need to check on it in January and maybe we’ll get some nice blooms.
Clem has taken it well. On Monday, when I told her that Bean was probably going to die, her questions indicated a lot of anxiety about her own death: Will I know when I’m going to die? Will I be afraid? What if I die when I’m a kid? (That one was painful to hear.) By Tuesday, she seemed to have worked most of that out, and was engaged and sensitive to our feelings, but not overtly sad. It’s only been in the last year or so that Bean has even let Clem pet her, but I do think she was attached to her. Clem showed no anxiety when petting her dead body, and was very sweet and supportive during the burial. When I told her she’d died, Clem’s second or third question was “What day and year is it? We should write that down,” which oddly was pretty much what Andre said when I told him too. I guess the instinct to mark time comes early. Clem made a sign for Bean’s grave. She really liked making something for her.
Goodbye, Bean. We’ll miss you.