He was black and sleek. Glittering green eyes, pointed ears and a purr that could rock the coldest heart. He brought joy and warmth, laughter and moments of pure disbelief that a cat could be so agile, so smart, so wiley. He could be mischievious. He could be exasperating. He could even be downright annoying in his insistence that it was your duty to pay attention to him, pet him, feed him, comb him. No matter what he was doing, however, he always brought a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. Mickey was love.
Mickey was my friend, N.R.'s cat. He died last night. Hit by a car on Tuesday, the prognosis for recovery was not good. N.R. had left for a trip on Wednesday morning so last night, my daughter Liseanne and I went to the Care Centre to be with Mickey as he passed from this life to another place.
It was sad. We didn't want him to be alone amongst strangers. We wanted to ensure that his last moments be filled with voices and smells and faces he recognized.
Whether or not Mickey knew we were there was not the issue. Drugged on morphine, his body ratcheted with pain, Mickey was not completely aware of his surroundings.
But we knew. Liseanne and I visited with him for about half an hour before the Vet came in and administered the drugs that would stop his heart and quieten his breathing. We stayed for another five minutes after the Vet left the room. We didn't want to leave him alone in that room. We didn't want to just leave him lying on the gurney, his body still beneath the crocheted blanket they'd placed on top of him.
Eventually, we had to leave and Mickey had to stay behind.
On the drive home, Liseanne asked, "So, if it's okay to euthanize animals, why isn't it okay to do the same to people?"
"Huge question, honey," I replied.
She thought a bit and said, "Think about Alexis and my friend T, at New Year's. The prospects for recovery for him weren't good. In fact, they didn't think he'd survive and if he did, that the brain damage might be extensive. And today, he's walking and talking."
It really is a huge question. It's about free will. About being able to explain what is happening. What is pain. What is recovery and healing. It's about involving the patient in their recovery. It's about being able to understand the pain will end at some point and having the patient know the difference. Sadly, it also involves money. To give Mickey a chance, the cost was over $10,000. Could that be justified when pain was guaranteed and the outcome iffy?
Mostly, however, it's about hope.
For Mickey, my friend N.R. had to make a very difficult, painful and sad decision.
She made the one she believes is best for Mickey. That respects his gentle nature and his spirit.
And, she made the decision she can live with knowing she did her best with love.
To keep hope alive for Mickey meant putting him through painful and extensive procedures that did not have a guaranteed outcome for a joyful life free of on-going pain. There was the possibility of amputation. The possibility of infection. The possibility of a life with limited mobility.
To keep hope alive for my daughters' friend T., meant doing whatever it took to save his leg, to heal his brain. It meant using ever resource available to ensure his care gave him the hope of living life fully again. Ultimately, for T., he also had youth, and luck on his side. Because, he was very, very lucky not to have paid the ultimate price of being hit by a truck on that January morning.
My daughter asked a huge question last night. I don't have an answer other than I know, in the case of human beings, there is always hope until their heart stops beating. And even then, sometimes, hope returns. Because hope, like love, never dies unless we let go of it.