19 years, 3 months, and 13 days. That’s how long I was blessed to spend with one of the most loyal friends I have ever had. In some ways it felt like a lifetime. In others ways, it passed by way too fast.
Oliver, “Ollie”, came into my life when I was only 10 years old. My neighbor’s cat had just given birth to kittens and I had always wanted a little orange cat. I went to see them and fell in love with the runt of the litter. I would go visit him as much as I could and my Mom was finally convinced to let me have him once he was weaned. I remember one time going to visit and searching high and low for him only to find that his momma had hid him in a shoe. I guess she wasn’t ready to let him go.
Even before he was weaned, I’d bring him to my house for a short visit. Ten-year-old nerdy me read all sorts of cat books to find out what he would like so I could make him happy. I made him a box fort to play in and covered him in kisses every chance I got. At five weeks old, I brought him home to stay.
The next 19 years passed and were filled with so many memories that I could write a book on them. Ollie was always into something (like the time he hid my candy in his litter box) or surprising us by doing silly things (like fetching my Dad his socks or when he caught a mouse inside a sandwich bag and carried it around like it was his lunch.)
Ollie was curious, loyal, and had a discernment about people I could only hope to have. Whenever I was sick, he’d stay by my side until I was better. If he saw me crying, he’d comfort me in his gentle way, allowing me to snuggle him and cover him with my tears.
One time when he was younger, I was holding him in my arms when a fan broke and make a loud sound. The noise scared him and he tried climbing higher up on me for safety and left a rather large scar on my arm in the process. Even when he was still with me, that scar always made me happy knowing that it came from my best friend when he was trusting me to take care of him. It has become even more special now, a little piece of him that I’ll always have.
Age started to take a toll on him, the way it does with all of us, and he slowly started to lose weight and started to get around a little slower. Every year on his birthday, I’d always wonder if that would be his last.
I had went to visit my sister and my Mom took care of him while I was gone. When I talked to my Mom, she said she was worried about him. He wasn’t acting right.
When I came back, I was heartbroken to see that he had went so far downhill in those 3 days. I knew I should take him to the vet, but honestly, I was scared to. But I finally talked myself into making an appointment for the next day.
By the time Friday came and we got to the vet, Ollie was in very bad shape. He couldn’t raise his head and hadn’t eaten very much over the last few days and had started to use the bathroom on himself. I just prayed that the vet would know how to help.
After what seemed like forever in the vet…exams, bloodwork….the results were in. Ollie had end stage kidney failure. His labs were the highest they had ever seen and the toxins in his blood was causing him to feel sick and that’s why he wouldn’t eat. I wanted to give him his best shot of pulling out of it, so I let the vet keep him in intensive care over the weekend.
I picked Ollie up on Monday, along with two bags of medicine and needles, as the vet told me that her hope was to give him a couple more weeks and make him comfortable. I asked her how she thought he would go and she said that he’d probably stop eating for a few days and then pass away. Knowing that he was probably so close to death when I brought him in and I yanked him back, forcing him to go though all that again, made me feel a little guilty and selfish. But I was glad to see him able to eat and move around a little one more time.
After bringing him home, he seemed to feel a little better. He would take his medicine, eat his food, and go to the litter box. He didn’t get around a lot, mostly sleeping, but he did respond when I came in the room. Even so, the constant thought of him suffering for days on end again broke my heart.
I finally got the nerve to pray to God and ask him to not allow that to happen. I couldn’t stand the thought of putting him to sleep but I also knew I didn’t want him to suffer. I asked God to let him die before he got that sick again. It was a hard prayer to pray, but I knew that would be easier on Ollie.
The vet had also sent home IV fluids that I would have to give Ollie every other day. The needle was huge and I think it hurt me worse than him when I had to give it to him. He tried to squirm and get away but I tearfully held him still until it was done. I knew Ollie wasn’t happy having to go through so much for such little in return. So that night, I held Ollie and told him I loved him. I thanked him for always being there and for giving me such wonderful memories. I told him that he was being so strong but I knew it was hard and when he was tired of fighting that it was okay to stop. I really feel in my heart that Ollie was holding on for so long because he knew I’d be heartbroken when he was gone.
The next day, he ate his breakfast and walked a little bit. That evening, he refused to eat. I was worried at first that he was going to start his week long starvation but then I had a feeling come over me that this was it. He was done fighting and wanted to stop the pain. I kissed him goodnight and told him I’d see him later. The next morning, he was gone.
It’s lonely without him here, but I’m thankful that God heard my prayer. Up until the day he passed away, he was able to eat and walk to some extent. He didn’t have to lay lifeless for days on end before leaving me and I didn’t have to chose his fate by putting him to sleep.
I could share with you all the details of his burial but I’d rather share the memories of his life.
That night, after we had laid him to rest, I walked outside and looked up at the sky. What I saw shocked me. So I looked again. It was still there. The moon was shining from behind some clouds and the clouds directly over the moon made a perfect paw print shape. I knew that was Ollie and God’s way of encouraging me.
I’m sad to not have him in my home or my arms anymore. Things like feeding him had been in my routine for so long that it’s still my instinct to do them. I still look for him when I enter the room where he died. I still watch for him to greet me when I open the door. I know these things will get easier over time but I’m glad that I’ll get to keep the memories, my scar, and the picture in my mind of the paw prints in Heaven.
I miss you, Ollie Bug. See you soon.