I laid Kerry to rest today.
Most of this post is pretty raw. That's just where I am right now so skip it if you want but let me first share with you the story of Kerry.
After we moved to our house about ten years ago, we noticed field mice visiting our basement. It was a newly constructed house in the woods so their presence wasn't shocking but not welcome either. Apparently, they thought is was a 'if-you-build-it,-we-will-come' arrangement.
A friend of my parents had some kittens and we took two. We decided to let each of the kids name one. (T wasn't born yet.) As they struggled to choose, I advised them to name their cat after something that they loved, something that was their favorite. S, 5, choose Ernie after the Sesame Street character, then E, 3, piped up with 'Carrie!'
Carrie was my brother's then-girlfriend. (Now, wife and mother of their three - almost! - kids.) Now, we all completely adored her and were thrilled by the joy she had brought to Lance's life. But, to E, Carrie was a rock star. So when I said the word 'favorite', it was no surprise to me that she thought of Carrie.
Carrie, on the other hand, was probably less than thrilled at the prospect of having a cat (and male at that) named after her. Little did she know that that was one of the least weird things about our family but she became one of us anyway. :) I told E we'd spell his name Kerry since that was the boy version.
The funny thing about Kerry and Ernie is that, to be brothers, they look nothing alike. Kerry was black and sleek - always. He never looked like an outdoor cat. Ernie, on the other hand, has light stripes and looks perpetually startled. He's more hair than cat and I'm not sure he looks different when bristled.
While Ernie is the cool, unflappable one, Kerry was the sweetheart. When he'd come up to us, all we had to do was say, "Hi, Kerry!" and he'd start his loud purring while entwining himself in our legs.
What I keep telling myself is that he lived a good life. He lived the life God created cats to have...outside, climbing trees, chasing mice and birds and lots of warm, loving little hands when he wanted them.
Back to today...
After I posted yesterday, the vet called to let us know that he had a diaphragmatic hernia. He gave us the options and the night to think about it.
In the end, what it really came down to was the chances of a full recovery. He's an outdoor cat and always has been. I don't think he would transition well to an indoor life after so many years of outside freedom and fun. Plus, we have two asthmatics in our house so bringing him inside couldn't work anyway.
C and I decided yesterday that I should tell the kids right after school. I wanted them to have time to sort through their feelings a bit before bedtime. The actual breaking of the news, though, was one of the hardest things I've had to do in my years of motherhood. Their reactions ran the gamut of what you'd expect. Having three kids and only two arms left me continually at a loss.
This morning, no one mentioned it and I suppose that was best. After taking the kids to school, C and I came back. He dug a hole and I made an appointment.
At the vet's office, I was immediately a mess. I'm not a crier and I'm really not a public crier. Not this time. It was those big, gasping sobs. Not loud but hard to hide, you know? I paid first so I could just split when it was over.
When they brought Kerry in, I started changing my mind. Did he really seem better or was it just me wishing so much? Knowing I was choosing to end a life left me absolutely breathless. I felt like I was in a very small box. He went quickly and quietly. I wrapped him in a clean towel and carried him out.
If his life had ended as the result of someone else's accident, I could deal with this better. But it was me. I wasn't backing out fast, I wasn't careless but what did that really matter anyway? The end was the same. A beautiful, sweet creature is gone and I've a houseful of broken hearts to try to piece together. Not much I can do about the former, so on to the latter...I think I'll go take the kids out of school early and buy them some ice cream.