Monday, November 21, 2011

Our Simon: November 16th 1993-November 13th 2011

I swore up and down that if I died in high school I would come back and haunt the pants off of anybody who made me a myspace tribute page. Such bullshit!! Everyone pretending they knew and liked the kid in question before their tragic passing...not for me, thanks.

On the other hand, I am universally moved to tears by tribute videos/websites/posts/etc. for pets who have passed away, whether in an untimely manner, or not. I wish very very much that I did not have the honor of adding to that tear-jerking parade, but I do. This is for Simon, our pure-bred Siamese cat.
I'm sure most people will say they love their pets of whatever species, and that their animal is special, but everyone who met Simon was impressed with his intense stare, and obvious intelligence...that, and his distinctive voice. The sympathy card had messages from the doctor of internal medicine who saw Simon through his last days, as well as his cardiologist, who had been keeping an eye on his ticker for a year and a half:

"I know that Simon was a very special part of your life for the past 18 years, and will be missed greatly. He had a unique personality and will be missed by everyone at FAVS. My thoughts are with you."

"Simon was well known around here for his good-natured (loud!) meows & and for beating the odds for so long. I know he was a wonderful friend & companion to you - you truly have all my sympathy for your loss."

We took Simon to the clinic around 2 a.m. on October 30th, because he had thrown up blood and was lethargic. Because of Simon's heart arhythmia, we were limited in terms of diagnostic and treatment methods, but the best his doctors could discern, Simon had a kindey infection, and a GI bleed that wasn't able to clot because of the meds he was on to keep him from throwing a blood clot and suffering a heart attack or stroke. Simon needed fluids immediatly to flush out his kidneys, and protectants to try to stop the bleed and heal the ulcer, and later, a blood transfusion. We were warned that his prognosis was uncertain. We visited him everyday. We spent hours holding him, talking to him, encouraging him to eat, telling him to please be strong and try his best to get better. The news was up and down for a few days, but by Monday he appeared to be stabilizing. The blood transfusion appeared to be holding steady. The doctors released Simon home to us, along with antibiotics, and stomach protectants, and a daily instead of every-other-daily fluid regimen.

We were so happy to have Simon home with us! I had been praying Rosaries for him daily, blessing him with holy relics, enlisting friends and family to pray, send reiki energy, and everything else I could think of. Trouble was, even though Simon had eaten alright his last day in the hospital, he didn't seem to want to eat for us. I tried everything to tempt him, but it wasn't working. I talked to his doctor about it at his one-week check-up. The check-up went really well: Simon's kidneys were back to normal, and his red blood cell count had climbed a few points! We felt like Simon was at least close to being out of the woods. The doctor prescribed an appetite stimulant, to try to get Simon over the hump and back into his normal eating behavior...the medicine in question was a human anti-depressent that affects appetite by affecting serotonin levels. It made Simon feel a little funny, and he didn't hesitate to let us know with his infamous voice. The medicine didn't seem to be doing much for his appetite though, so we tried him on a different one, this one a human anti-hystimene that worked in a similar way. This one didn't seem to be doing much either, and I was getting worried that Simon wasn't going to keep getting better if he wouldn't eat, so even though the doctor had said we could take him back in ten days, we made an appointment for only a week later.

Simon was sleeping in his new favorite spot near the table when we went to bed the night before the appointment. I awakened after the sun had risen in a panic because he had never come to join us in bed. I found him laying down in the hallway, and carried him in to sleep with us until we woke up. He purred and snuggled up between us. He got up and walked over my face three or four times, as was his custom, stepping on my hair, and generally interfering with my sleep. I was so happy to have him near us, acting like his old self.

Later that day we bundled him into his carrier and took him on the shuttle bus and the train back to the vet. We thought it would just be another check up, that maybe we'd try a different appetite stimulant. If I had had any idea what was about to happen, I would have held Simon in my arms the whole way.

Our doctor took Simon downstairs to weight him, take his temperature and draw some blood. He and Simon came back up 20 minutes later, and I knew right away something was very wrong. Simon's body temperature was too low; he was dehydrated; his blood pressure had crashed; his kidney levels were twice as high as they had been when we brought him in the first time: he was dying. We could try fluids and a blood transfusion again, but his elevated potassium suggested his kidneys were shutting down, and anything we did would only prolong the inevitable, and his discomfort. I looked into Simon's eyes and begged him to tell me he wanted to fight, that we could get through this together. He purred, and rubbed his face on my hand, but I could see it now, that he was tired, and weak. That maybe he didn't want to fight anymore. I remembered all our years together, the countless times I had soaked his fur with my adolescent tears, and he had stayed by my side anyway, purring. He had always been there for me. Even though it was the worst thing I would ever do in my life, I knew that I had to do it. We had to let Simon go. I would never have had the strength to make that decision without my husband, gently explaining, and coaxing, being patient with tears and confused accusations. We cried together, helplessly. We hadn't wanted it to end this way. We thought that if it came to this, the doctor would come to us, that Simon would die warm in his bed with the people who loved him.

We spent the next day together, mostly wandering around Prospect Park, reminding ourselves that there was still such a thing as beauty, as life. And we cried. I had feared that since Simon was such a part of our marriage, losing him would put a rift between us, but in that moment of indescribable pain, we found each other and held on tight. I know we will only be closer for having gone through this experience together. We will always remember everything that Simon taught us:

Patience, non-attachement, mindfulness, but most of all, love. He will always be in our hearts. At night, I can feel him close by. I can almost feel the weight of him settling against my spine. I know that he's free now and at peace, with no pain or fear, but I know that he misses us, too, and until we can all be together again, he'll keep an eye on us. He truly was an incredible cat. And as I told him that night, just before the end, I will have other pets, and I'll bond with them and love them dearly, but I'll never stop loving Simon. He will never be replaced in my heart. I am so grateful to him for the beautiful years we shared. I can't help but wish there could have been many more, but I could do no less than respect his final wish: to go home, and wait for me there.

We love you, Simon.

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