Death’s What It’s All About, Part II: Further Philosophical Deep Thoughts Inspired by My Cat
Here’s an update for Friends of Bob. He’s having some new health problems. If I can get an appointment, I’m talking him to the vet tomorrow to get an idea about what might be happening, without running any invasive tests. He’s very frail now, completely deaf, partially blind, and incontinent. Still, there’s that damn PURR. He can’t seem to stop purring. I can deal with all of the above as long as he’s happy. But now, some of the time he’s clearly in pain, plus we have to wash him with a rag two or three times a day, which he hates. If it can be cleared up with an easy fix, like last year’s frightening bacterial infection was, maybe he can go on longer. If not, if it’s only downhill from here, or if the fix is something invasive like surgery, then we’ll take a few days with him, then say goodbye.
During the past few days I’ve had to really examine my motivation for wanting to hold off on euthanasia – for his sake, or mine? Both? This is a very, very hard decision. I went to bed last night hoping he’d die in his sleep. Wow. Of course, he didn’t. Because he’s Bob. I’m beginning to think he can’t die. And that we’re going to have to make it happen for him.
It would be so much easier to wait until he’s really, really sick, when his death would be an obvious release from suffering. But Melissa and I have decided not to do that to him. I would be keeping him alive for my own sake, because I love him, because I can’t stand the thought of him being gone, and because I’m too weak to make the decision to end his life. Not fair. I’ve always thought the phrase “you’ve got to be strong” is something dumb they say in movies. Well.
Were Bob still living on the Austin greenbelt, he would have died from that bacterial infection last year. If he hadn’t gotten sick, he would’ve gone when he stopped being able to hunt. That would have been, or led to, his natural death. We’ve kept him alive past his allotted time. That’s what we do, we go against nature, keeping ourselves and our loved ones alive when nature would’ve taken us out much more quickly. We’ve taken it out of nature’s hands and into ours. Obviously I don’t object to it, but because it’s in our (mine and Mo’s) hands, we damn well better think these decisions through.