3/29/09

Losing a friend.

Where to begin?

First, I had a 3-day training class from hell last week, complete with an impossible test at the end that I am pretty sure I failed.

Second, my best friend since 7th grade had a heart attack. (Thankfully, full recovery expected.)

Third, Our cat JD died, and as a result, our house has been filled with sadness. He was a special kitty, and a beautiful boy. He was my wife's best friend and my faithful writing companion. He slept in the crook of my arm almost every night, and his unconditional love and his trusting personality made him better than most people.

If you'll indulge me, I'd like to tell you a little bit about him. This post is probably more for me than for you, so there won't be any funny this time around. If you are here for a laugh, check back later, or see this previous post about JD. This was, to put it mildly, a bitch of a week.

About eight years ago, we were driving home on a back country road during a rainstorm, when my wife said, "What was that? I think I saw kittens! Stop!" so I reluctantly pulled over, having seen nothing myself. It turned out she was right -- she did see kittens. They were lost, abandoned and scared, but when my wife got out of the car and called to them, they came running. She scooped them up and tossed them in the back seat, and suddenly we were the owners of two kittens who smelled like cow crap and looked like drowned rats. When we got them home, we put them in my shop, gave them some food and water, and turned on the heat so they'd dry off. They ate like they hadn't had a meal in three days, which may have been the case.

I hope there's a special place in Hell for people who abandon their pets on the side of the road.

The next morning, we went out to see what we had found and clean them up, but they had apparently spent the entire night cleaning each other because they were dry and totally clean. I got a friend to adopt one, we adopted the other, named him JD, and our adventure began. We took him to the vet, had him checked for worms and feline leukemia, got him his shots, and had his little man-bits removed.

We already had two other cats. I didn't really feel like we needed another one, but there was something about him. I'm not sure if it was his bright blue eyes, or the fact that he acted more like a dog than a cat, but he quickly wormed his way into our hearts. Our other cats are nice enough, but they're not the same. I don't know how to explain why he was different, or why we became so fond of him so quickly, but we did. Maybe it was because we rescued him from an almost certain death, and he acted as if knew that. Or maybe it was because he bonded to us both so completely. I'm not sure.

He never begged and never made a pain the ass of himself, which is rare for a cat. He'd sit and wait patiently for his food while the other two zig-zagged between my wife's legs and pawed at the counter and meowed like they never ate before. He'd follow my wife around the house, and he always wanted to be a part of whatever she was doing. He came running when she called his name, and he'd search the house for her when he noticed she was missing. He developed routines; we developed routines -- and he trained us well. To be honest, we spoiled the hell out of him.

He loved the summer and the warm weather, and would look forward to keeping my wife company as she gardened, or as she sat on the porch with her latest crocheting or knitting project. All winter -- on the sunny days especially -- he would run to the front door and wait to be let on to the porch, expecting it to be warm. It was always such a disappointment to him when it wasn't, and he'd turn around and march back into the house like it was somehow our fault.

After about 4 years, he started getting sick. We thought it was hairballs, or maybe he was eating too fast. To be on the safe side, we took him to the vet, and the vet gave us some sad news: An ultrasound confirmed that JD had small, malformed kidneys, and as a result they were only functioning at roughly 20%. He also had some stomach problems, and she suspected pancreatitis. Toxins were building up in his bloodstream, and that's why he wasn't eating. The treatment for this was to inject 150ml of saline solution under his skin every three days, to ease the strain on his kidneys, which I learned to do. She gave us two other drugs, one to help with his appetite when his stomach was off and he didn't feel like eating, the other to help with his stomach ulcer issues. This seemed to stabilize him, and he remained a happy cat for quite a few years, although he would go in cycles where he'd have a stretch of a few good weeks, then a bad week, then a few more good weeks, etc.

Every few nights, he'd sit on my wife's lap and patiently allow me to stab him with an IV needle, and he never complained other than a low-pitched moan here or there. He never scratched or tried to bite. He trusted us, and even though what we were doing to him must have hurt, he forgave us each and every time. He'd run away and hide, and in twenty minutes he'd be back to see what we were doing.

Because we had to give him so much daily medication, it was difficult to leave him behind when we went camping or visited friends for the weekend. We'd have to board him at the vet's office, and that wasn't inexpensive, or very pleasant for either of us. That's when we started taking him with us when we went places. He got used to a harness fairly quickly, and he loved going on canoe trips and camping in the Adirondacks, and having him there with us was actually pretty fun. I know our canoe trips this year won't be the same without him.

During one of his visits to the vet last year, we got some more bad news -- our vet heard a pretty significant heart murmur, and she suggested we take him to a cardiologist. Yes, believe it or not, cats have their own cardiologists. The cardiologist did another ultrasound, and it turned out that JD had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure, most likely as side effects of his failing kidneys. We agreed that we'd treat him as long as he didn't realize he was sick, and that's what we did. His life became a routine of pill-popping morning and night -- two types of beta blockers, plus antacids -- interspersed with squirts of liquid medicine down his throat, in addition to the subcutaneous fluids every couple of days. Still, he was spunky and happy, and other than a bad few days here and there, he was still loving life and being with us. His blood pressure was down, his enlarged heart started shrinking back to normal, and we thought the worst was behind us, at least for a while. His murmur seemed to have improved slightly as well.

Sometimes when you're lucky enough to find a good pet -- one of those animals that transcends the ordinary owner/pet relationship and seems to know more about your feelings than you do -- there is a kind of wistful sadness built into every interaction. I think it's because on some level, you know your time together is short, and even with a healthy pet, you realize the day is coming when you will have done all you could for them -- when there's really nothing left to do except to let them go, and hope they know they were loved.

For us, that day came early last week. On Saturday, JD and I sat together on the porch, soaking up the sun and waiting for my wife to get home from work. When she pulled up, he ran down the stairs and greeted her half way. That night, everything was normal -- he sauntered up the stairs, jumped on the bed and poked at me until I pulled my arm out from under the covers. I knew if I didn't, he'd walk around and start sniffing my eyebrows until I did. Then he curled up under my arm and I fell asleep to his big purrs and the small ball of warmth at my side. The next morning, everything seemed fine, and my wife and I both had the day off. We were looking forward to just hanging out in the sunshine and enjoying the day.

After breakfast, my wife noticed that JD was breathing a little funny, and looked like he couldn't get comfortable. He was moving a little slowly, and we thought maybe he just had one of his routine stomach aches, since he had suddenly stopped eating earlier. He walked over to me, gave my leg a little head butt, then plopped down on the floor. I petted him for a few seconds, and then he got up and went upstairs to find my wife.

As soon as she saw him, she knew it was something besides his normal stomach issues, so we immediately jumped in the car to bring him to the emergency vet. It was 30 minutes away, and I drove like a maniac. My wife was holding him in a blanket and about half-way there, his breathing became extremely labored, and he started crying and trying to breathe through his mouth.

He kept reaching one paw over and touching my arm as if he was asking me to fix what was hurting him. It was heartwrenching, and I could barely keep my eyes on the road. We finally got to the vet's office and they quickly put him in an oxygen tent, but it didn't do much good. The vet said they were going to give him a sedative and take a chest X-ray to see if they could determine what the problem was. We waited.

When the vet finally came to the waiting room a half-hour later, I could tell by her face the news wasn't good. She told us the prognosis was poor -- heart failure and pleural edema. She told us that that even if they could treat him and he made it through the night, the treatment would be extremely rough on his kidneys, and he would probably go back to being sick and uncomfortable all the time, and the chances were that the same thing would happen again.

We always said that we'd treat him to the best of our ability for as long as he maintained his quality of life. The walk to the clinic's operating room was surreal, and I felt like I was watching it through someone else's eyes. JD was lying on a soft, folded towel placed on an operating table, with the vet's assistant holding an oxygen mask to his face. The vet unwrapped a syringe, and placed it on the table next to him. We petted him and talked to him and told him how much he meant to both of us, and how sorry we were. The vet picked up the syringe, and I almost told her to stop. But then JD looked at me, and I knew it was the right thing to do. We couldn't put him through any more. Putting him down was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. It wasn't the first time I've had to do this, but it was the first time I've had to do it to a pet that I truly loved.

I'm alternately sad and angry, and I know that such a sweet cat deserved more than the life that was handed to him. Most of all, I wish we could have given him one last summer.

I'm so glad we got to be with him for 8 years, and I'll never regret the lengths we went to in order to treat his illnesses. I hope he knew, on some cat-level, how important a part of our lives he was.

Rest in peace, buddy. We'll never forget you.


Adirondack Canoe Trip - Autumn, 2008


My favorite picture of him.

179 comments:

  1. I'm really sorry for your loss, he sounded like a really beautiful part of your family.

    Your comment: but there was something about him

    I think that applies for some of the most special pets we have in ouir life, like somehow they were set aside by the universe to connect with us.

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  2. Anonymous9:18 PM

    I'm so sorry about your cat. We had a cat too who was just that fabulous and we loved her very much. We had other cats too but this one was the greatest cat ever. She died about 3 years ago and we will never forget her. I honestly cried more when we had her put down than I did when my dad died. It's also the only time I've ever seen my husband cry. I sometimes think of getting another cat but we probably won't because no cat will ever measure up to her. (That's the same thing my mom says about my dad.)

    liz

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  3. carolyn9:23 PM

    Your week sucked and your post made me cry. Pets are phenomenal but every once in a while you get one that is really, really special. I'm so sorry.

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  4. I'm so sorry for your loss! (((Hugs))) He was a beautiful cat, and sounds like he was a wonderful friend. I don't care what anyone else says, losing a beloved pet is HARD.

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  5. Such a beautiful post for such a beautiful kitty, my heart goes out to you.

    They're never "just a cat," they touch our lives in a way nobody else can!

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  6. Please excuse me while I pet my cat Jake and cry for a bit.

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  7. We too have a cat that acts like a dog, and I saw alot of him in your story. I dread the day when we have to put him down. Your wish for one more summer got to me. Beautiful post, and very sorry for the loss.

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  8. Anonymous9:41 PM

    What a lucky cat to have had two wonderful parents such as you and your wife. I completely understand what you are going through because we have been through this several times at our house and it's never easy. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Nancy in PA

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  9. Anonymous9:53 PM

    What a beautiful post. He was an amazing cat who was so lucky to have you. He will always hold a special part of you and your wife's heart that no one else can have. Hopefully soon the hurt will heal and special memories will take its place.

    Petunia

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  10. I'm very sorry for your loss, JD sounds like he was a great companion.

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  11. JD most certainly knew he was loved. You gave him a wonderful life, and in turn he made yours better, too. Fair winds and following skies, sweet kitty JD.

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  12. Anonymous10:06 PM

    How fortunate for both of you that you found him that night. He sounds like he was a very special cat. So sorry.

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  13. What a beautiful cat. No cat is "just" a cat, and he sounds like he was pretty special. So sorry.

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  14. My heart goes out to you and your wife ~ it is SO hard to lose one of your family. I hope this will help ~

    Rainbow Bridge


    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
    When an animal dies that has been especially close
    to someone here,
    that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
    There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends
    so they can run and play together.
    There is plenty of food, water and sunshine,
    and our friends are warm and comfortable.
    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor;
    those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again,
    just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
    The animals are happy and content; they each miss someone
    very special to them, who had to be left behind.
    They all run and play together, but the day comes when
    one suddenly stops and looks into the distance.
    His bright eyes are intent, his eager body begins to quiver.
    Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass,
    his legs carrying him faster and faster.
    You have been spotted,
    and when you and your special friend finally meet,
    you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.
    The happy kisses rain upon you face; your hands again
    caress the beloved head,
    and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet,
    so long gone from you life, but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together.

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  15. Losing a pet that you love and one that really impacted your life fucking sucks. I have gone through it and I am going through something similar with our family dog right now. I keep telling my husband after our cat and dog have gone, I don't think I will be able to own another animal again. I am balling as I type this, so I hope it makes sense.

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  16. Anonymous10:16 PM

    That was so beautiful and you touched my heart. I wish the best for you and your wife, I'm sorry about the loss of such a special cat (and friend). I will now treasure the moments even more with my own spoiled tomcat - who is also halter trained (but I've never taken him camping,etc).

    I've always enjoyed your writing and the stories of your family (Mom stories especially), thank you for sharing again. You are a natural storyteller.

    L.

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  17. I'm so terribly sorry for your loss. :(

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  18. Johnny, what a beautiful tribute. I have tears running down my face. Thank you for telling us about JD and his wonderful life. What a great friend he was to you, and you to him!

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  19. To this day, the only thing that will consistently make me cry is if I think back to how I lost my first dog, a lab named Dawn. Now, years later, I have another extremely special pet -- a cat named Miss Kitty. I expect that I will go to the same lengths as you did for JD in order to give her a happy and healthy life.

    I commend you, and your wife, for giving this cat space in your home and in your hearts. I won't say that the pain will abate with time, but I will say that you will vividly treasure those 8 years of memories for the rest of your lives, and I hope that brings you a measure of peace.

    *HUG*

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  20. I can barely see to type as I cry for you and your beautiful JD, and remember my buddy Murphy, the best cat EVER, a rough-and-tumble tom who literally walked in the back door one day and curled up on the back of the couch with a "what took you so long to let me in" attitude. Torn ear, crooked tail, broken incisors, covered in scars and bumps, he was a scrapper. I'd seen him in the neighborhood for weeks before - some people moved away and LEFT HIM BEHIND!!! (they are going to hell, I am sure of it). He was the most lovable, vocal, personable cat I've ever had, I swear his main frustration in life was that to him he was speaking perfectly normal English and we could not understand him. We found out soon enough why the evil neighbors had left him behind - he had a tumor the size of a guinea pig in his left lung. He was with us only 18 months, and putting him down was the hardest, most gut wrenching thing I've ever done. More so than with any other cat I've ever had. He was practically human, and still the best cat - everyone who met him agreed and was envious (no offense to the current two, who are lovely and loveable but lack any personality). I hope JD and Murphy are in heaven exchanging stories about us all.

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  21. Oh, he's gorgeous! And I'm not one of those "my cat is my baby" kind of people, but I get what you're saying with how special JD was. I'm pretty certain that in our "next place" our most special pets will be reunited with us, so I hope you see JD there. My condolences.

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  22. First let me say, I love how you write. Whether you are making me laugh or making me cry, I truly enjoy reading what you have to say.

    So sorry for your loss. My deepest and most sincere sympathies.


    I get that whole "bad week" thing. The Universe must be going through some pretty rough PMS.

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  23. JD was a beautiful kitty and was so lucky to have found you both. I hope each day gets a little bit easier.

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  24. I am so sorry to her about your kitty (sitting here fighting the tears).....I compeltely understand--I am a cat person and always have been...I always said my sister would have kids and I would have kittens. LOL We have 3 cats, one that adopted us :O) so I undertsand that love and bond over a "found" cat--a first for me...I always had pure bred brats.....RIP in JD....but remember they have nine lives, so he may come back as another cat :OP...I think I had that happen once in my lifetime already

    BTW, I totally understand about a sucky week, my uncle passed away last week on my "vacation"...talk about a sucky week :O(

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  25. He was beautiful, and he looks very loved in that picture.

    They wrap their paws around our hearts and never let go, don't they?

    Be gentle with yourselves.

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  26. There's no such thing as "just a cat" (or dog or any pet), and anyone who thinks so is an asshole. I'm sorry about your loss. I've been there more than once myself and it always sucks.

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  27. musicfan11:44 PM

    What a lovely and touching post...I am crying here; I am so sorry about the loss of JD...like someone else mentioned, thinking of our first cat (his name was JR!) and about having to put him down is about the only thing that will make me cry every time it comes to my mind. Pets touch our lives in a very special, to-the-core place and losing them hurts profoundly. He was a lucky kitty that day, to have been rescued by you and your wife, and to have had such a full and well-loved life...may that comfort you as you grieve.

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  28. JV, I'm so sorry about your cat. After I finished reading this, I went and picked my cat up and just cuddled with him until he couldn't take it anymore. I think I forget sometimes what that 19 lb ball of fur means to me. So thank you for reminding me.

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  29. I'm so sorry about your cat. We had to put down my 16-year old Sheltie last year. She had Alzhiemers, was deaf and very arthritic. I called her my "first-born child" because I had her longer than I've had my kids. She was my best buddy. I still miss her. You're right that a lot of people don't get it about special pets.

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  30. I just want to extend my deepest sympathy to you and your wife. I have a 13 year old mixed dog and she is nearing the end. It just breaks my heart thinking about the moment I have to decide if she needs to be put down. Just thinking about that moment makes my whole body weak and brings tears to my eyes. I definitely know exactly what you went through. I hope that life can continue with the least amount of pain possibly. Try to remember that you helped him to life the fullest life possible and kept him from being in pain at the end.

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  31. Thank you for sharing him with us. He definitely was special, as you both were to him.

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  32. Very touching post...so sorry about your cat!

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  33. Thank you for taking such good care of JD and for sharing him with us. I'm sure he had a wonderful life with you, and loved every minute of it. I'm going to go snuggle my old fuzzball now and wipe away tears.

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  34. I'm so sorry about JD. He was a beautiful cat and obviously a huge part of your family. It's amazing how animals can worm their way into our hearts so easily and so quickly. It sounds like JD had a pretty good deal while he lived with you and your wife and I'm sure he was very happy and grateful that you rescued him.

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  35. Aw, I'm sorry to hear about what happened to JD...he sounded like an awesome kitty...I've never been lucky enough to have a pet, but he definitely sounds like one I hope to have one day. RIP, JD

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  36. I am so sorry about your kitty. I know you will miss him.

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  37. You wrote a beautiful tribute to JD and I am so sorry for your loss. Your life together was brief, but meant to be - I mean who else but you and your lovely bride would expend the energy and $$ into loving him and giving him the quality of life that he enjoyed.

    Now - excuse me while I get myself back together so I can go earn a living today. ((((Johnny and Wife)))

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  38. I am so sorry about JD- sending good thoughts your way...

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  39. Of course he knows how special he was to you... he always did. Animals that are family to us have a sense about these things.

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  40. Anonymous8:36 AM

    I am so sorry about JD. My dog died in November, he was only 4 years old and I miss him terribly. (Last night, all these months later, I had a dream about him). Screw those people he say he was just a cat, a pet is a family member and if they are not part of your family then you shouldn't have a pet. Tracey

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  41. Delurking to express my sympathies to you and your wife. I know how hard it is to lose such a special pet. We lost our 16-year old cat just about a year ago (kidney failure also) and I still lie in bed at night and wait for her to jump up.

    I like to think that we'll all have more amazing cats come into our life in the future.

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  42. What a beautiful kitty and such a beautiful tribute! As a pet person myself, I know how much they add to our lives! My baby (dog)is 12 and in seemingly good health right now, but I know exactly what you are talking about. I look him in the eyes every day and tell him how much I love him and ask him to please never leave me! Silly, I know. Please accept my most sincere sympathies to you and your wife.

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  43. Johnny, sorry for the loss to your family. Part or all Siamese? Smart cats. LOUD (usually).

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  44. Angela9:23 AM

    I am so sorry for your loss. Animals are a wonderful, special part of our lives and it's heartbreaking to lose them. Take comfort knowing you were loved by a great cat and he knew how lucky he was to have you and your wife.

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  45. Very sorry for your loss. JD looks like the spitting image of our Evinrude whom we lost in 1998. He was an awesome cat too.

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  46. Anonymous9:38 AM

    I'm so sorry about your cat. At the same time, I can't believe you found a Siamese cat on the side of the road! Who would do that? Those kittens obviously didn't just run away from the farm. I hope you can enjoy your memories of him without sadness. So sorry.

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  47. Beautiful...the story, and JD. Sorry you didn't have each other longer.

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  48. Damn, Johnny. I hate cats and you still had me wiping away tears.

    Sending sincere sympathies for you and your wife. I know it leaves a gaping hole to lose a beloved pet.

    It's ironic-- I thought of you and your childhood dog post this morning, after beginning to clean up our dog who shat all over herself overnight. Then I sat down and read this.

    Again, sorry for your loss, but thanks so much for sharing in your poignant and evocative way. It's good for all of us.

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  49. *total flood zone here.* Dammit!

    he was absolutely gorgeous. Big hugs from me to you and your wife.

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  50. I'm really sorry for your loss. He sounded like the best kind of pet, a family member. It's obvious from your story that he knew you loved him and gave him a full life. I'm crying like a baby. I'm sorry.

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  51. "Sometimes when you're lucky enough to find a good pet -- one of those animals that transcends the ordinary owner/pet relationship and seems to know more about your feelings than you do -- there is a kind of wistful sadness built into every interaction."

    I have one of those pets. The medication he needs for seizures is tough on his liver, so he probably won't live as long as his brother and sister. I've never really put into words why I squeeze him extra-tight, but your words describe it perfectly.

    I am very sorry about JD. They're never "just a cat" or "just a dog" if you love them.

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  52. I'm so sorry for you loss of JD. His story parallels that of my late cat who was also rescued as a kitten. He was a joy in our lives and also acted like a dog. We lost him to a dog attack five years ago and had a similar drive to the vet with him wrapped in a towel, crying and struggling to survive. Today I still cry at the memories that your story revives because I know the hurt that you are feeling and how much you will miss JD.

    I recently read a wonderful book called The Art of Racing in the Rain. It's about a dog named Enzo but I think it describes the relationships we have with the special pets we really connect with and how their spirits live on. It's a wonderful book and might be helpful in easing your loss.

    ((((Hugs))))

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  53. What a beautiful tribute. Six years later we are still remembering our yellow tabby. This past summer our daughter (in college) had to put her beloved cat down, all on her own. She had Shadow since 2nd grade. Pets are indeed members of the family and anyone who has not felt the unconditional love of a pet, has missed something very special.

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  54. Kristy10:41 AM

    What a beautiful kitty. So sorry for your loss.

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  55. Today marks the 2-month anniversary of my best friend's death. He was "only" a dog, but I'm still deep in grief ... and still cry almost every day. I wrote this shortly after his death ... there are many of us who understand your pain:
    Just a dog.
    Just joy when he greets me.
    Just comfort when he curls himself around me.
    Soft fur, cool nose, soulful eyes.
    Warmth. Trust.
    Just love.
    Just a dog.

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  56. Beautiful, Johnny, just beatiful. I'm blind with tears at the moment.

    Thanks.

    FA

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  57. I am so, so sorry, Johnny. I know exactly how you feel, having just put my beloved dog, Charlie, to sleep last July. It was much the same - he just sort of collapsed one day with heavy breathing and I had to rush him to the emergency vet, where they found that he had a huge, cancerous tumor that was poisoning him. There was no alternative but to put him down. I grieve to this day over him and can barely stand the thought of getting another dog. And I know what you feel about those that say, "So what? It's just a cat." They have no idea. NO IDEA.

    There will be hard days ahead, but it will slowly get better. I cried and cried and cried like I've never cried before. I still miss him.

    JD sounds like an absolutely wonderful friend. You are blessed to have had the time with him that you did.

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  58. My most sincere condolences on the loss of your friend JD. Losing a companion animal,and especially one who touched the heart as strongly as JD did yours and your wife's, is extremely painful. Been there.

    To those who say "he was just a cat".....they have never known the extreme bonding that takes place in the heart between feline and human, or perhaps,canine and human. I feel sorry for them to not have had that relationship.

    My heart hurts for your and your wife's grief. Take care of your hearts.

    Hugs to you both.

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  59. I can't say much about this, I'll cry for days if I do. But you did more than most would have for a true family member. JD was beyond lucky to have found you and your wife. Canoeing with a CAT. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. You are truly my hero now. I lost the absolute love of my life in August and still cry absolutely every day over it. And did just as much as you and your wife did to care for him and prolong his life with bladder cancer. Knowing that I know that I did the right thing. Otherwise, I would not be able to live with myself. You are true animal lover as only those who care for them and sacrifice as you have can state so. I am so truly sorry for your loss. JD is absolutely gorgeous. I wish I could say he was with my lab in "animal heaven" but you know how it goes with dogs and cats.........but hey, JD did think he was a dog, so you just never know!!!

    Sorry for your family's loss. I'm in tears over it. I feel the heartache over it, it is a hard thing to get over.

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  60. Anonymous12:02 PM

    I'm so sorry for your loss. I really and truly know exactly how you feel and what you and your wife are going through right now. I won't bore you with the details of my beloved pets death, but suffice to say, I know your pain is deep and real and I sympathize.

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  61. I agree, there should be a place in hell for people who abandon their pets. My roommate and I rescued the most annoying cat in the world when she was found in the forest. And, even though she is part demon spawn, we adore the heck out of her.

    It is horrible to lose a family member and having to choose to let them go is really rough. I am sorry about your loss and thank you for sharing his story.

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  62. Anonymous12:25 PM

    I know how you feel. But rest assured you did the right thing at the right time. It truly is losing a friend/family member. You gave him a good life full of love and food- what more could you ask for? Cherish the time you had. God Bless...

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  63. Anonymous12:31 PM

    It seems so unfair that our pets have such a short life. It's so hard when they die. Your JD was a beautiful cat and he really did have gorgeous blue eyes.

    You know you don't always have to be funny. I, for one, appreciate your writing and I know that life isn't always funny.

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  64. What a wonderful, sweet post. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  65. You brought tears to my eyes. xox

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  66. I'm very sorry for your loss.
    I'm sure that he knew he was loved.

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  67. Sorry JV, I know how it is. I had mine for 14 years and I still miss them. Hope you feel better soon.

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  68. I couldn't finish reading this. I will have to come back to it when my own sorrow is further behind me.

    My cat, Nikita, was with me for almost 20 years. She was the first domestic animal I ever shared my life with. It was finally her time (it was probably past her time) just last week.

    I feel your pain, brother.

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  69. Cheryl S.2:00 PM

    I'm so sorry you lost JD. We have 3 kitties also, but Max is our JD. He has asthma and heart issues and, like you, we're treating him until it's his time to go. God Speed, JD.

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  70. Mary012:08 PM

    To JD:
    You were loved and will be missed. Cheers!

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  71. So sorry about the loss of your dear friend. JD was lucky to have you and your wife, and you were blessed to have JD for the time you had him. Thoughts and prayers for you during this difficult time.

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  72. Spedrson2:12 PM

    He's a beautiful cat!

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  73. Mary012:13 PM

    I just donated to buy you and your wife a beer. At a time like this, you guys can use it. If there is any left, please donate it to the SPCA, or buy a nice rose bush or something to plant in your yard in honor of JD.
    It's tough to lose that 'one' pet who touched you the most.

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  74. So very sorry about J.D. We have 3 dogs, 2 of whom are old guys, and it will be rough to see them go. You gave him a great life.

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  75. sweet little kitty...

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  76. Beautiful kitty! What a lucky guy. And the blessings he brought to your home. I'm sorry for your loss. Similar to you, my kitty Bowie was that one in a million cat and he too lived for years on Sub-Q fluids and meds. Love JD's eyes. Bowie had one blue and one yellow.

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  77. I'm so sorry for your loss.
    My cat is now one of my best friends - she's a sweetheart that looks a lot like yours. Someone abandoned her too and we've been together since October.

    This is a photo of our first night together, after her bath.
    http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/9877/image002r.jpg

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  78. Oh Johnny, you and your wife must be so, so very sad right now.
    I too had a rescued cat, deaf (with some odd habits as a result), ultimately arthritic, who developed thyroid illness and then congestive heart failure (which I first noticed because of the breathing, also). They tapped the fluid on him so I could take him home a few more days and get ready to say goodbye. After he became hyperthyroid and had many of his teeth pulled, I knew every day was a gift, and his vulnerability made him even more precious. As he'd been rescued, I think he knew that he did have it good, too. Taking him in after his heart began to fail was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and the vet staff was great about letting me sob away with him for several more minutes (my bf was crying too, a good sign in a guy, really) after he'd gone. That was last April; it's been nearly a year, and I still miss him. I got another one who is an equally great cat in his own way, but I will never have another "pantherette" cat who insisted on drinking his water not out of a dish but out of a glass ... on the windowsill ...
    Thank you for the beautiful story, and the even-more beautiful pictures of JD.

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  79. JV-

    So sorry that JD's time in your family was so brief, it sounds like he added so much richness to your lives.

    I've lived with cats my entire life. There are some exceptional cats out there, and I've been blessed to know a few of them. One (the great one) slept curled under my arm like a teddy bear for many years. She's been gone for 12 years now and I still miss that cat.

    I'm glad that you and the Mrs. got to share your lives with one of the exceptional cats.

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  80. What a beautiful sentiment!

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  81. Anonymous4:44 PM

    Very sorry to hear about your loss. You never forget those special to you. I lost a cat 17 years ago and I still miss him today. He went through a lot of health problems before I lost him so I can relate to your post. My condolences.

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  82. This made me cry- and I never cry at blog posts. I am sorry for you and your wife. Your friend sounded very special.
    I have two elderly pets and dread that day that is coming.

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  83. I probably wouldn't have read this if I knew it was going to get the waterworks going while I was at work.
    Thanks for sharing, JD reminds me of my own furball- minus the harness.

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  84. Sorry for your loss, mate.
    You brought more than a tear to my eyes this morning with this post, and somehow the whole day hasn't been right since.
    Extra hugs for the two you have left!
    Thinking of you and your wife at this awful time.

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  85. Your post made me a cry and was a beautiful tribute to JD who was an amazing, gorgeous cat! And for willing to go camping and canoeing and not running away, he actually beats my cat for the most awesome cat in the universe award.
    Jen

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  86. I am so sorry. JD sounds like he was very loved. You were blessed to have him in your life, no doubt.
    I'm sitting here thinking about my Boston Terrier, Lucy, who was 18 when we had to put her down because of a tumor. I get tears remembering that day. I'd had her since I was 5 years old. I hope when I die that she will be one of the first to greet me in heaven.

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  87. TeachMichigan8:14 PM

    Thank you for sharing JD with us. We're facing exactly the same dilemma w/our 16 yr. old Border Collie, and a decision will be made this week. It's gut-wrenching, and when it's that special pet, there are no easy answers.

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  88. I hope that the people who dumped those babies out on the side of the street forever suffer with foot rot of the groin. Bastards!

    I understand your pain. I too lost my Scratch last summer. http://sheila-thatsme.blogspot.com/2008/07/loving-tribute-to-scratch.html

    He too was one of those amazingly special animals who was so different from all the other pets I'd had in the past. He was so unique and I still miss him everyday. Like you, my kitty was my sleeping buddy and loved to snuggle with me. He was sick for a long time too. Sorry I'm rambling but dammit I miss my Scratch! You have my deepest heartfelt condolences on the loss of your beautiful friend JD.

    Sheila

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  89. So sorry, JV & Mrs. JV. This was a beautiful, heart-wrenching post about a beautiful friend. There is just no comfort, except what you find in each other and your memories, at a time like this. You guys shared an amazing life with him, and I hope the good times outweigh this hard, hard time. Take care of each other!

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  90. Anonymous9:05 PM

    :( I am so sorry.
    If you are up to it you might want to read
    Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover's Story of Joy and Anguish by Mark R. Levin
    It is applicable to pet owners in general and a wonderful read for those who have loved a pet.
    Take care.
    Rachel

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  91. Anonymous10:47 PM

    JV, sorry to hear about your loss. To all those people who say "so what, its a cat" i ALSO say fuck you. I think at some point everyone had a pet that touches them like JD did. I had to put down a dog not too long ago and can feel what your going through. Its amazing what pets can do..

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  92. My wife and I lost our cat last fall very suddenly, and the situation that led us to put her down was heartbreaking. I told myself that I wasn't attached to the cat, but watching her die slowly in front of me, I fell apart.

    I'm sorry this happened, but I'm sure JD knew how you felt about him.

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  93. Letting go of a pet is truly a hard thing. Been there, done that - still hurts.

    He was a beautiful cat - in more ways than one it sounds like. He was as lucky to have you and your wife as you were to have him. Condolences on his loss.

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  94. I'm so sorry! ((Hug)) I'm glad that JD was able to find a great family like yours to be a part of. You went the extra length to take care of him and I'm sure he knew that.
    ~FC

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  95. The worst part about bonding with a family pet is the fact that you open your heart to them, and they give back 110%. However, when it goes, the emptiness never really fills back up.

    Yet somehow we go on, and at some point allow ourselves to open up to yet another pet..

    I miss my pets as well, and I really feel for you JV.

    Best wishes on this next week. I'm hoping it gets better, and not worse!

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  96. JD is absolutely beautiful. As is this post. My heart is sad for your and your wife.

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  97. So sorry for your loss. I know what it's like to have a "special" pet, and I can't imagine life w/out her. Rest in peace, JD.

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  98. I'm so, so sorry. Thank you for sharing JDs story with us. He was a beautiful cat and so lucky to have you and your wife in his life.

    Now I'm going to go hug my cats and cry.

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  99. So sorry for your loss- Special cats like that are one in a million. My Mom and Dad found a cat that looked just like JD on the side of the road in Tahoe one winter. They named her Tahoe, and I grew up with her around my whole life. She was just like what you describe JD to be. When Tahoe died it nearly killed the family, but you know what happened six months later? I was riding my horse down the road, heard a "mewl" and there was a kitten, bloody and battered from being tossed out a window. I brought her home, dubbed her "Scoop," and aside from not being siamese, Scoop is just like Tahoe. Acts like a dog, follows you around, looks for you when you 'dissapear.' I decided that kittens found on the side of the road make the best cats. Keep your eyes peeled- there might be another JD waiting around the corner (literally) to fill the hole in your heart. Kudos to you for keeping him comfortable for as long as you did. He certainly wasn't just a cat, he was part of the family.
    -Heather

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  100. so sorry about your cat, JV! he sure was a cutie! i'm sure he'll always be with you and your wife in some way...

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  101. I couldn't help but cry at your story. Anyone who can say, "So? It's just a cat," must have never loved one. I have a cat who is as special to me as any of my human daughters are. I don't know what I would do if I lost her.

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  102. Anonymous12:20 PM

    You and your wife are good, loving people. JD wasn't just a cat; he was "A real boy!" Just like Gepetto said about Pinnochio. I have one too. With similar problems, actually. Many hospitalizations, expenses, etc. All worth it. I can relate to everything you said. We relish every second we have with our boy, as I'm sure you did too. My heart goes out to you. It is with real tears that I offer you my condolences. Remember, love like that doesn't just mist away. It's forever and he's with you, always.

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  103. thank you for this. We just lost our sweet boxer, Oscar, last Monday. He had epilepsy & knew his time would be short, but he died just 4 months short of his 6th birthday. Hang in there & hold onto the memories.

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  104. OMG I'm so sorry. It's the worst when the pets are the best. And there are so many good ones out there. I hope you don't mind, but I submitted your post to cute-overload.com in the hopes that they'll feature your beautiful photos of your beautiful friend.

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  105. I'm so sorry about your kitty. Your post made me cry, I have lost many pets over the years. They don't live as long as we do, so there is no way to avoid the pain of losing them. We could go through life without them, but what kind of life would that be.

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  106. I am a faithful reader of your blog but have never commented before. I am a cat lover and volunteer at a cat shelter. My husband and I are also parents to five wonderful cats (no human children yet). I love all of our cats dearly, and they are each special in their own ways, but our cat Milton is extra amazing. Reading about JD made me think about Milton. He sleeps with us every night and is unbelievably unconditionally loving and so smart too. He comes when I call him and he follows me around the house. He asks to be picked up when I get home from work by standing on his hind legs with his front paws on my thigh. His love is so pure and relentless. I will be a disaster when I lose him.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I have lost a couple special cats before, and I know how devastating it is. Nothing anyone can say will make you feel better, but I will keep you and your wife in my prayers.

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  107. Anonymous4:13 PM

    I'm in tears at my desk in the middle of the day at the office.

    I have 3 cats - all rescues. One showed up on my porch with only 3 legs and she was pregnant! I can truly relate with the love you felt for your buddy.

    I'm so sorry to hear about JD.

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  108. Jeez! 108 comments for a freakin' cat?

    OK, that was just a lame joke to lighten the mood around here. Like many other readers, I too know the pain of losing a pet that's become part of the family. I hope you're both comforted somewhat by the fact that you took such loving care of him and gave him 8 good years that he otherwise would not have had.

    And I hope your feelings of grief soon turn to just those of fond memories...

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  109. Sandra, UK4:58 PM

    A lovely honest post which made me cry. I lost my precious fur-baby, Cari, to cancer a while back now, but I still have days where I can't help crying because I still miss her.

    We have two other cats and occasionally they will do things that she used to do... we say that they are channeling Cari (especially if it's naughty)

    I know how you feel, JV, and it's going to be a while before the grief abates. Ignore any assh*le that says he was 'just a cat'.

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  110. I just bawled my eyes out sitting at my desk.

    I am so sorry for your loss. I had to put my little man down this past June -- he had dementia and started biting. It was the most horrible experience of my life.

    They are never just cats or just dogs. I loved that dog and he stuck with me through everything -- much better than a man or some friends or hell, even family!

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  111. Anonymous5:46 PM

    So sad for y'all's beautiful little friend. Bless his heart, he went through a lot, didn't he? Love like that isn't ever wasted, and, it lasts forever. I hope your grief is complete.

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  112. What a handsome fine boy he was! I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  113. What a beautiful post. May your sweet JD rest in peace.

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  114. OK. I'm crying now. I can't wait to get home and see my 2 pugs and my 17 year-old brown tabby. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  115. Christy8:34 PM

    I am so sorry for your loss. These are not just cats, they are family.
    Just last year we lost two of our cats, both strays, that we adopted 17 years ago when we were first married.
    We were off on a camping trip with the cats and dogs left in the capable hands of my mom and dad. My mom called three days before we were to come back and said that Edgar was not well. We franticly broke camp and drove the longest 8 hours of our life. We arrived home to find a listless Edgar. He rallied for a few days but in the end passed away quietly in his sleep. Just 3 short months after Edgar left Lilly went too. We were all home and with her when she too slipped away while we held her. I know this is weird but as she passed away I could swear that I could hear Edgar purring. Edgar liked to sit with me on the couch and Lilly would sit on the back of the couch behind your head and they would purr and purr. For a good 10 minutes after she passed away there was this purring sound behind my head. It started out loud and got softer and softer until I couldn’t hear it any more. I was sure I was hearing things but my husband heard it too. We decided that Edgar had come to help his sister Lilly pass. If that makes me crazy well that’s ok with me.
    It does get easier but it is a very long slow process.

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  116. Anonymous8:53 PM

    I'm sorry about your cat - you brought me to tears with this one. I grew up around dogs, said I'd never have a cat, and that I just didn't like them (my husband didn't either). WELL, a few years ago after we built a new house I saw a mouse and said "that's it, we're getting a cat". Little did I know that the little black kitten we got for free from an ad in the paper would turn my whole thinking about that around! She squirmed her way into our hearts, and we both count ourselves as 'cat people' now - we even got another one!

    Anyway, I completely understand (we had to have our beloved dog of 12 years to sleep a few years ago), but I do worry about when we will have to say goodbye to our kitties. There's just something special about them.

    And kudos to you for having the courage to say goodbye rather than putting JD through a painful death. It's a hard decision to make, but I can't stand to watch people put their pets through agony just because they can't bear to say goodbye. You did the right thing.

    Take care,
    Kathi

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  117. Oh, shit, Johnny. You totally made me cry. Like everybody else, I'm really sorry. Hopefully you haven't heard from any of those "just get another cat" jackasses.

    It sounds like JD had a great life with you. Again, I'm really sorry that he's gone. :(

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  118. Anonymous9:45 PM

    So sorry to hear about your beautiful kitty. They become little furry family members, and we cannot help but feel loss when they are gone, taking with them that little something special they added to our lives. I'm glad you gave him such a good life; it sounds like he knew how much he was loved.

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  119. some times we are blessed with pets that are our soul mates, they are the ones that read our minds and touch our hearts so deeply. It's like we've known them forever and it rips us to our very core when we can't do any more for them and we have to make a decision to send them gently into (wherever). Anyone who isn't compassionate about your plight has not been there; they can't have experienced the kind of love and joy you and your wife had with your precious cat. So ultimately they are to be pitied for their ignorance.
    I have been where you and your wife are standing now, and no doubt will be there again. Words don't ease the pain, but you know by now that you are not alone in this and sometimes sharing makes it easier to cope with. I'm sending you both love and blessings.
    P.S. Not to be flippant or weird, but you know you can have your cats ashes turned into a diamond... I'm still on the fence about it. In a way it's really cool and in another--kinda weird.

    Anyway, it get's easier over time, but I've found the loss is never completely gone.

    Hugs,
    Reiven

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  120. Anonymous5:22 AM

    I love your fun posts, but this was VERY touching...I have a 15 year old dog that went to Chicago bars, camping, airplane & cross country drive trips with me...I think this is some of what I will go through when her time comes...and I figure it is all borrowed time now. God Bless you for your MAD SKILLZ, and for this heartfelt post especially.

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  121. I think from all the comments here it can be safely said that no one with a heart would ever say get over it because JD was a cat. Pets are little furry members of your family.

    Grief is a normal to have when someone you love is gone from your life.

    I'm sure JD knew you and your wife loved him dearly.

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  122. So sorry to hear about JD, I can only imagine how hard this is for you and your wife. I know I'd fall apart if either of my cats needed to be put down, and your story brought tears to my eyes. JD was a beautiful kitty.

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  123. Anonymous11:06 AM

    I know just what your going through. I had to put one down recently too. It's brutal. JD reminds me alot of my cat. Very affectionate, follows me around, and sleeps in the crook of my arm. He will paw at the blankets till I let him in to snuggle up with me. And yes, even when they are healthy, we are all too aware of just how short our time with them will be. They have so much to teach us about life and love. With sympathy. Holly

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  124. I'm so sorry for your lost. He sounds like such a special cat and he found a wonderful home with you and your wife. He looks like he was a beauty too!

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  125. I am so very sorry about JD. :(
    I really related to the bit about there being a 'wistful sadness' to every interaction with one's pet. I often feel that with my dogs. I try to cherish every moment with them. It sounds like you and your wife were the best thing that ever happened to JD. I hope you know that. Take care.

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  126. I teared up reading your post, my cats are truly a part of my family and letting them go would be an extremely diffult and heart wrenching decision. You should be proud that you took such good care your cat, physically and emotionally.

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  127. Anonymous5:47 PM

    I just read your story with a huge lump in my throat. I am so sorry for your loss. We live in the country, so we have had many cats and dogs dropped off near our home. I agree with you about the special place for people who drop off unwanted animals. Your cat was beautiful, and you gave him a wonderful life full of love. Take peace in that.
    Mary Alice

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  128. Anonymous6:03 PM

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. It made me cry because I understand how you feel. I lost my cat this past July. I had her from the day she was born and she lived to be 18 1/2 years old. She was with me thru college graduation, getting my first job and moving to a new state, all the way thru having my first child who got to spend 8 years loving her. We miss her dearly and will never be able to replace her.

    Sorry for your loss.

    Valerie

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  129. emilee6:29 PM

    Your post had me crying from the start. Just a week ago, I had to put down my 8 month old kitten. He was the coolest cat, and my apartment just isn't the same without his little face in the window to greet me. The six months I had with him just weren't enough.

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  130. Dammit, you made me cry at work.

    It sucks to have to put a pet down. It's one of the hardest things to do, even when (or especially when) you know it's the right thing. I'm so sorry....

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  131. I didn't read through the comments, and I'm sure someone already said this, but anyone who could read your story and then say "so? it's just a cat" isn't worth the bother of telling them to f- off.

    So sorry about your loss.

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  132. Anonymous8:40 PM

    I'm so very sorry for your loss.

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  133. I am so sorry about your cat. Funny people who can't have sentimental moments are heartless.

    You've always had a heart, and it makes you all the funnier. This post brought me to tears, but it's because funny or not, you're an amazing writer.

    What a tribute to your friend. My thoughts are with you and your wife.

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  134. I'm certain that if he could speak to you now, he'd say, "Thank you for saving my life, thank you for giving me a life full of love, and thank you for loving me enough to let my life end with so little pain."

    Some animals, like some people, seem to fit right into a space in our lives and hearts that perhaps we didn't even know was there until they filled it.

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  135. I'm so sorry for your loss. JD was a beautiful cat. You are right about the grief being as hard as a human, pets are family members too.

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  136. He sounds like he was a wonderful companion. Sometimes the "people" who touch our lives the most are the ones we meet by sheer accident or luck. It sounds like you and JD were fortunate to find each other. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  137. Anonymous2:46 PM

    Dangit. I cried when I read this post. I am so very sorry you lost your little furry friend/family member.
    I'll spare you the 'oh he's in a better place' blah, blah, blah.
    Just wanted to offer my condolences to you and your wife. I too know the loss of that special cat/dog friend. Some cats/dogs just are unique.
    Again, I'm so sorry and hope you find some measure of comfort from the kind remarks made here in all of these comments.

    And P.S.--you should print all of this as a tribute to your beloved friend.

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  138. Anonymous4:14 PM

    Hi-
    I've never posted before, but felt compelled after reading your post about JD. I've been there myself. I know what it's like when you've had that bond with them and it really is special. I hope you and your wife can comfort each other through this difficult time. FWIW, I did find that relationship again with another cat, but there will always be a special place in my heart for Nim.

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  139. People who love animals are incredibly blessed.

    My cat's name was Ben. I have never had a cat like him since. He was special. He died from feline leukemia. I named my son after him.

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  140. Anonymous6:02 PM

    I'm so sorry for your loss. The tears were streaming down my face as I read your post. It reminded me of the cat who looked for the door into summer when J.D. was asking to be let out on sunny days only to find the cold.

    For what it's worth in the midst of your sorrow, it sounds like J.D. had a pretty good life, camping, canoeing and hanging out with his people. It took a lot of unselfish courage to put him to sleep.

    I hope you do get another cat once your sorrow has lessened. Cats deserve a loving family like you and your wife provide. And you deserve to have your home and lives graced by another cat.

    Although I never met him, I will always remember J.D. just from reading your post. He was a gorgeous guy.

    When you are ready to share another (non-heartbreaking) cat story...
    http://www.snopes.com/critters/disposal/catchday.asp

    Lisa in Canada

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  141. I know exactly how you & your wife must be feeling =/ My husband & I lost our mini dachshund of 15 years almost a year ago. Loosing her was almost like loosing a part of me. And to this day, I still regret not having more time with her - despite her being 15 years old.

    Am sure JD knew how much you guys cared, and how much you tried to help him. He was lucky to have you guys as well.

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  142. I get it. I totally get it.
    http://imjustthatway.blogspot.com/2009/02/cassidy-glickfeld-2001-2009.html

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  143. It sounds like your kitty had a loving home and terrific pet parents. The hardest thing to do is finally decide that further treatment is more about us than doing the best thing for him. We had two special cats; one we put down because of a tumor, and his brother, who we SHOULD have put down several weeks before he died of old age and kidney failure. You did the best you could for your friend for as long as it was in his best interest, and then you did the right thing. Hard, but right.

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  144. I'm sorry for your loss.

    We found a Pomeranian in an alley a few years ago. He was sickly and missing patches of hair and we begged my mom to let us keep him. My mom hates dogs but she said yes. That little dog knew what he had been saved from. He also knew who he owed his life to. He was with us for 3 years but he died of cancer. The way you described your little guy it was if you were talking about our little dog.

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  145. Touching, beautiful post that made me cry. Time will help but you'll never fully get over your sweet JD. I am so very sorry for your loss. He was a lucky, LUCKY, boy to have spent so many years with you and your wife.

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  146. Anonymous4:24 AM

    first time I've ever visited your site, and now I've teared up.

    I'm so, so, sorry about JD. I understand. I hope you were able to bury him nearby. We planted a tree where we buried our 17-year-old mutt when I was 16 (family got her before I was born)...its nice to see the tree now, nowing its beauty is stemmed from her life.

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  147. I teared after reading your post. Be strong, man. Your bond was amazing.

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  148. p jane2:04 PM

    Bless you and your wife for giving JD a home and sticking by him to the end. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    I wanted to comment sooner but it took three tries before I got through the post w/out crying. You painted a touching tribute to your fried. Thank you for sharing that with us.

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  149. (i'm not sure what happened to my original post, so i am trying again.)

    thank you for your sharing your thoughts and jd with us. like many of your other readers, i cried as i read this. he was beautiful (inside and out).

    i'm so sorry for your loss; may the happy memories of jd bring smiles and warmth to you for MANY years. i was told once to remember that “death ends a life and not a relationship” – this is true even with our furry friends who seem to know us the best. it sounds to me that you were as special to him as he was to you...


    with hugs and warm regards,

    ~alisa

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  150. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a lovely cat...

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  151. Anonymous5:10 PM

    Beautiful post; you were all lucky to have each other.

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  152. Anonymous10:28 PM

    I'm so sorry for the loss of your JD. I know how hard it is to lose a special cat like that. I'll be thinking about you and your wife.

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  153. David1:27 AM

    I can so relate. For 11 years I had my beloved yorkie. Yorkie's are described as the most cat-like of all dogs.

    My Tessie was my beloved companion. She was always at my side. The vet found a heart murmur that turned out to be a leaking heart valve. The canine cardiologist helped for a while but last fall, on a lovely sunny afternoon she joined me on the terrace for a while. After a half hour I realized she had relaxed on the tile floor and was no longer breathing. At least she went on her terms on a beautiful afternoon.

    The loss of a beloved pet is such an event in out lives.

    Bless you Johnny Vigil and Mrs Vigil.

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  154. I'm terribly sorry for your loss. What an amazing friend to have loved for all those years. My heart goes out to you and your wife. Peace.

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  155. I'm very sorry for your loss. You're not alone in feeling like that, as the comments to your piece show.

    I still miss my boy, Freddy, who came to me to the US when I emigrated in 2000. An emigrant cat! I still miss him, nearly two years after he died.

    This is what I wrote after he died.

    http://fredcat.net/fredcatmemories.html

    He wasn't a young cat by any means, but I still hoped he'd be around a bit longer ...

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  156. Sorry, when Fredcat came WITH me to the US, not when he came to me to the US. He came with me from England.

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  157. Dude, I'm not a pet person AT ALL. But this post made me cry. I fell in love with the cat in a matter of paragraphs. I'm so sorry. I hope this post was a little but of release for you. It sounds like you guys loved him like a child.

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  158. Anonymous9:51 PM

    Beautiful...thank you for sharing. I would love to see a picture of JD in the canoe living the life of Riley..! Something about a cat with a harness just screams "individual". I bet there are more stories about this fella, which are hysterical..we will miss him with you.

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  159. Lillian7:48 AM

    There's a wonderful Leonard Cohen song called "There Ain't No Cure For Love" which I think perfectly fits the bill in these situations.

    That's the case here, & for all the correspndents to this blog item who have told their stories of beloved pets, well, that's just how it is, isn't it?

    We always miss those who add wonderment & love & comfort to our lives. We all gonna die sometime folks, & so are our pets.

    Give great thanks that we live in societies where we can afford pets, and their (often expensive) care, and that we can also access a quick and painless way to end their physical sufferings.

    I think it's important for all us pet owners to know that there is life, and also quality of life - two different things. Don't drag the end out - make it come on a good day, where they can still enjoy some pats, maybe some food and sunlight (hopefully) & then let them go.

    Lots of crying is good, & then when you're ready, go & find another animal to love - there are so many out there that still need a loving home.

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  160. One of our 3 dogs is a rescued animal. He was found in a dumpster with hi litter mates. He's a little over 2 years old now. He's a sweet boy and he loves us like no other dog I've owned...probably because he knows...

    He too is in poor health. The vet says it's bad genetics; his joints are all messed up. It's so bad some days he walks like a very old dog. The vet says is internal workings are all strong but unfortunately he will eventually become immobile. It's only a matter of time, and probably not much. But we are doing the best we can for him to give him the best life he can have for however long he has it. Just like what you and your wife did for your JD.

    My condolences for your loss

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  161. "there is a kind of wistful sadness built into every interaction"

    I've known many cats in my life. We adopted one 9 years ago who has become more of a friend to me than I ever imagined possible. So it was unthinkable that when we adopted another cat two years ago, it would be the same thing all over again, but it has been. The two are night-and-day difference except for their bottomless capacity to love me.

    I love these cats so much that it hurts. Every day I think about how impossible it will be ever to let one of them go. Yet I know I'll have to.

    I have a pretty good idea of the pain you're feeling. The only thing I can say is that you gave a terrific creature many good years that he never would have had. When the inevitable day comes to let my little girl go, the only thing I can hope to keep me in one piece will be the memory of all the attention I've given back to her over the years.

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  162. Anonymous12:12 AM

    What a beautiful boy....I'm so sorry you had such a short time with him.

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  163. omg, I'm bawling... and I don't even like cats. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know that he knew how much you loved him; you can tell by the way he communicated with you. You and your wife did amazing things--from the moment you rescued him, through all you did to keep him healthy. Thank you for your story.

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  164. I didn't comment here because we emailed, but I am still sorry.

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  165. Stunning and beautiful post. Everyone that loves a pet that reads this can not leave with a dry eye. JD sounds like a jewel and so do you and your wife.

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  166. I am crying at my desk because as I read your story, I know exactly what you mean and how you felt about JD. I had a cat who touched me in the very same way (he died from kidney failure two years ago). I am so sorry for your loss ... JD sounds like a very special friend. Lucky you! ;)

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  167. I'm so sorry to hear of JD's passing. This is a beautiful tribute to a really special fella. <3

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  168. I'm so sorry about JD. Two years ago we lost our cat, Lucy. I started a blog because I felt a giant gaping hole in my life and I needed a place to write about her. When we had to put her to sleep, it was heart-stopping and gut-wrenching. Sometimes, it's really hard to do the right thing.

    It's been two years, but my eyes still well up when I think about Lucy. She, too, was a very special cat. More of a pain in the ass than it sounds like JD was, but special nonetheless.

    If you want to know that you're not alone, here are some of the links to some of my posts about Lucy:

    http://hellek.blogspot.com/2007/06/our-sorrow.html

    http://hellek.blogspot.com/2007/06/what-lucy-taught-us.html

    http://hellek.blogspot.com/2007/06/relief-and-anger.html

    http://hellek.blogspot.com/2007/06/lucy-at-rest-at-home.html

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  169. Mitesh7:37 AM

    I am really pained to read about your loss. My parents had a variety of pets throughout our childhood and I know how attached get to them. They touch our lives and leave a void when they leave. I pray JD rests in peace.

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  170. wow...thanks for sharing your memories. I sat here, in my office chair with tears spilling over.
    JD sounds like he was an awesome cat and he was lucky that he had you and your wife....and it sounds like you all were lucky too.
    RIP JD

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  171. Oh JV, I just got to your site and read your heartbreaking story. I never understand why people don't get that REAL pet people think of their pets as part of the family. I'm so sorry you lost your friend.

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  172. I remember when I read the story of JD's first camping trip, I laughed until I cried. Today I just cried.

    JD was beautiful and sounds like a wonderful guy. He was as lucky to have you and your wife as you were to have him.

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  173. Anonymous6:31 PM

    I'm so, so sorry to hear about your precious JD. I too, am owned by three cats. My eldest being about 17 years old. I found her as a stray. My heart goes out to you and my tears flowed for you and your loss.

    I'm glad your childhood friend will have a full recovery. And sorry about the training and test from hell. Shitty week indeed.

    KMarie in MI

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  174. Chile5:04 PM

    I've just now read this post not having the strength to read it earlier. I wanted to let you know how terribly sorry I am for the loss of such a beautiful cat. I can completely understand the human/pet bond. My rottie, Blade, was my soulmate in canine form. I lost him suddenly in September of 2007 while he was at a specialist's office having tests run to determine if he had spinal cancer. During the myleogram he made the decision for me so I wouldn't have to and he passed away. It's been almost 20 months without him and the pain is still there. I want you to know that time doesn't heal all wounds but it does make it less raw. I hope you can find strength in the memories you have of JD. Like you I wish I could have had one more summer with Blade. I took him to the lake with me, he captained my canoe and we spent many afternoons laying on each other in the grass soaking up the sun. He was my best friend, my comforter and my confidante and life will never the same without him. But I'm so blessed that he chose me to be in his life.

    I hope you feel just as blessed that JD (and his sibling) chose you to be in his life that night on the side of the road. You rescued him but in turn he rescued you too.

    My thoughts are with you and your wife.

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  175. you did well. sweet kitty. i've tears in my eyes.

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  176. I can't stop crying.

    We had to put down my dog today.
    He was also a rescue animal and had had a very very tough life and a million medical problems. last night his stomach got very bloated and he hung his head down almost to the floor.
    His stomach and intestines were all twisted up inside him and he hurt too bad so we had to put him down. Jack was a wonderful dog and i'm going to miss him every day.

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  177. We had to have our dearest cat Tozi put down on Friday. We are childless so he was our surrogate child in effect and the consequences are devastating. Our house is so empty and our hearts are broken. he was such a lovely boy, friend and character...a once in a lifetime thing. We are all at sea without him and cannot stop the tears.
    Your article really struck a chord with me and I totally sympathise with what you have gone through.
    We found this poem helpful...

    IF I SHOULD GROW FRAIL

    If it should be that I grow frail and weak
    And pain does keep me from my sleep,
    Then will you do what must be done
    for this - the last battle -can't be won.

    You will be sad I understand
    But don't let grief then stay your hand.
    For on this day, more than the rest
    Your love and friendship must stand the test.

    We have had so many happy years,
    You wouldn't want me to suffer so.
    When the time comes, please, let me go.

    Take me to where my needs they'll tend,
    Only, stay with me till the end.
    And hold me firm and speak to me
    Until my eyes no longer see.

    I know in time you will agree
    It is a kindness you do to me.
    Although my tail its last has waved,
    From pain and suffering I have been saved.

    Don't grieve that it must now be you
    Who has to decide this thing to do.
    We've been so close - we two -these years,
    Don't let your heart hold any tears.

    (author unknown)

    Take care and we send you our thoughts and love,
    Joh & Anne xxx

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