In Memoriam, Maddie (4/2/96-8/1/09)
Maddie was, without a doubt, the love of my life. I was told by a psychic once that I would have three children, and she focused on an "older girl" whom I would have adopted. I always figured I would meet a guy with a daughter, but I think maybe the psychic saw that I would love Maddie like a human child.
She had a hell of a week before she passed. We had a mad flea infestation, and she endured flea baths, fogging, having the fleas shaved out of her beautiful fur, and having the house exterminated like the champ she always was.
Apparently she was sick for a long time, but I think the trauma accelerated her decline.
At the vet last Wednesday, she was a little over 7 pounds. This was my little "pudge muffin" who once tipped the scales at 17 pounds. She was diagnosed last year with hyperthyroid. Which I also have but I was always jealous that she slimmed down and I didn't. ;)
But in the last few months of chaos (we left D.C. and came to Florida), she was even-more happy and playful than ever but what I didn't see was her shrinking. As you've seen from the photos, she had tons of gorgeous fur.
It was on Thursday when the vet shaved her down to get rid of the fleas (her fur had become very matted and I couldn't get them all out myself) that I saw how tiny she had become.
Both she and Kadie stopped eating during Flea-a-Palooza, but when Kadie's appetite slowly returned and Maddie's didn't ... and Maddie went from bouncing around the house to not wanting to even move off my bed even when the vacuum was running, I took her to the emergency vet.
There, I was told she had maybe a good 24-48 hours to live because her kidneys had shut down.
We talked about treatment plans and how much time we could buy her. At best, we were looking at a few weeks. My mom suggested we take her home to let her die where she loved to be. With my heart in my throat, I asked about euthanasia. They left us alone to talk and decide.
How do you make that kind of decision? Any choice seems cruel and just plain wrong. How do you say goodbye to your baby?
The vet returned to get my decision, but then the vet tech burst in and said, "She's going."
I broke into a run and found her in the back. She had started vomiting green. I asked later if they had euthanized her without my consent, but they said no -- she was in an oxygenated cage and that was supposedly the kidneys shutting down.
She was lying on a table, gasping for breath. I said, "Let me hold her." They put a towel in my arms. "For when she pees," they told me. Then they gave me my baby.
She took one last breath and quietly passed on.
That was Maddie, though. Not a word of complaint, not a lot of fuss, no drama whatsoever. She looked at me, breathed and left me.
I have no doubt that she waited for me. She always waited for me when I came home from work. Always said goodbye to me at the door before I left. Always had to be as physically close to me as she could get.
Right away, I kissed her and whispered, "Run to Grampy." My grandfather passed in 2006 and I knew he was there waiting for her. Like everyone, he loved her with all his heart. You just couldn't help it.
I held her for a few hours. I couldn't give her back. I guess I was hoping she'd wake up for me and defy the odds. With her little tummy gurgling from hunger (she hadn't eaten in nearly a week -- I was forcing Pedialyte and NutraCal on her at every opportunity), I kept hoping she'd meow at me.
And yet, I carried home her empty pink-and-black cage. Which Kadie keeps peering in, hoping for her sister to magically materialize.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't doing the same.
If there is any bright spot to these dark days, it was that I missed a lot of afternoons at work and spent them with the cats in the car, driving around while our apartment was being nuked for fleas.
I even had a couple of hours alone with Maddie, as I took her to work and drove around town before I dropped her off to be shaved. I was very tempted to let her walk on the beach, but I figured the vet would have my head if she had to shave sand out of her ass. :)
But I always figured we'd get to it "someday." I never dreamed that Saturday would be the last day I'd get to spend with her.
The bullshit of all of this was that I was saving up for some supposed cure-all treatment for her. The medicine had made her ill and she started being herself again when her prescription ran out. I figured we'd heal her once we got to Florida, where I was making the money I needed to give her the good life she deserved.
So with Flea-a-Palooza in full swing, I figured I'd get the cats vaccinated, get her shaved and get her treatment in one fell swoop.
I think her poor body had just had enough trauma. And that while I struggled with my options for how to save her, she made the decision for me. She always did her best to make my life easier, even if these are the hardest days of my life without her.
The thing that breaks my heart even more is that I found my dream apartment. And an apartment downstairs for my mom. I had wanted to take Maddie there to see it, but I was so afraid of one errant flea infesting the place and giving her another round of hell to endure. So I was waiting to take her there.
My plan was to give Kadie to Mom, and Maddie and I would live alone on the top floor of the building with a gorgeous view and a huge balcony for her to play on.
If there is any comfort to be had during this nightmare, it's that I will be high in the sky and closer to where she is.
I have a million "coulda woulda shoulda" thoughts going through my head 24/7, particularly as I learn to try to sleep without her nuzzled against my side. But one of our beloved readers sent me a note that she would want to be my cat in her next life, and in that she reminded me that Maddie quite possibly was the most-loved kitty in the world.
I am so glad that I chose to share her life through this page. As another friend told me, what started out as silly and funny really became a chronicle of our little life together.
I'm tickled that so many people grew to love her the way I always will, and that many prayers are going out to bless her beautiful little heart.
There are so many "that's so Maddie" stories I can tell, but my heart is too heavy to even try. I just wanted to let those who had come to love my baby to know that the best little girl in the world has ascended to the giant litterbox in the sky, where she will no doubt head-butt you and purr robustly to tell you she loves you when you join her there.
And I'd exchange the rest of my own days to have her do that one more time for me. Because you couldn't doubt for a second that you were so very loved.
I was outside last night, sobbing my eyes out as usual, and my mom pointed to a cloud that looked just like her. Big bunny-rabbit ears, fluffy tail and paws -- looked like she was running. I don't know if that was a sign that she was OK or what, but it was good to "see" her again.
Mom is a bit of the psychic type and had a dream about my grandfather the night Maddie died. My mom said she was at Delray Beach, and she saw my grandfather coming toward her. As she went to approach Grampy, she said she saw Maddie come out of nowhere and start running toward him. He bent down, scooped Maddie into his arms, and Mom knew they were together wherever they are.
I don't know how you deal with broken hearts over your pets. And how you go through it more than once. I'll love Kadie for as long as I have her, but I'm done. I can't go through this again. I'll wait till Maddie and I meet again in a place far from body and heart aches.
I implore you to hug your kitties tonight, and drink a toast to the best baby in the world. And I thank you for loving her with me.