Euthanasia Forgiven

I’ll never euthanize another pet.  Maybe that’s an overstatement, but the need would have to be extreme.

We were sitting comfortably in a circle in my living room at the time, each with our own glass of wine, as usual. It was our weekly consciousness-raising group, and the mood was mellow until a spunky friend I admired said, “Pet owners are being cruel when they let their pets suffer rather than have them put down!”

She wasn’t talking about me, but I let the remark fester until I saw myself through her eyes, a cruel mistress to my aging cat Lucky, a misnomer if there was ever one.

At the time, Lucky had become both deaf and blind, but living in my bedroom he could find his food, water, litter box, and accurately jump up into the darkness to find his own place of comfort on our shared bed. I now believe that I over-reacted when he started losing weight and I had him euthanized. He trusted me kept going through my mind.

I missed him, felt guilty, and overall miserable. I had allowed someone else’s opinion to bully myself into “putting him down,” and yes I do think I was protecting my own feelings.

Two weeks of loneliness passed before my muscles twitched and while lying on my bed  I felt the mattress jostle gently and a soft knot of pressure lay against my back. That night I fell asleep with a smile on my lips.

Lucky chose a different spot to occupy each night, but his warm presence continued to soothe until the morning I felt his soft paws tapping on my face. That wasn’t a surprise; he knew how to wake me when he was ready for company.  So familiar were the gentle pats that I reached out for him, half asleep, and found myself with a fistful of empty air. And noticed a thin veil of smoke and the acrid smell of scorching.

The smell led to an outlet in the living room that was sparking and snapping and ready to combust. Between a 911 call, the power box, a raincoat lying nearby and the arrival of the fire department, the danger was over within minutes.

I returned to bed, sensitized myself to reconnect with Lucky’s presence, but he was gone, mission accomplished I supposed. Also gone were my pangs of guilt.

The following week scorch had been replaced by the odor of blooming honeysuckle just outside the open window, and after pulling my hair into a pony tail I headed out.  Would today be my own lucky day?  I wondered as I pulled into the Animal Rescue Center’s parking lot. Sure enough, there they were, a playful pair or young brother and sister kittens. They seemed to have been waiting for me.

 

c. nan mykel

About Nan Mykel

I used to think I would be a child prodigy, but then I got old. Formerly I had fantasies of rubbing elbows with cultural and academic leaders but that did not come to pass because I did not become a cultural or academic leader or any other kind of leader, for that matter. I am not even an "Alpha Dog," a term learned from a friend who had to become "Alpha Dog" in order to influence her own pet. (When gazes lock, she never looks away.) For years I expected to become a published author, but in passing I could not avoid the fact that I had little to contribute to the world's bulging dumpsters. I'm embarrassed to report that I also considered my primary process artistic productions powerful, rather than mildly neurotic. Which is not to say that I disrespect myself, only that I am beginning to doubt my potential for making a mark on the world. If I focus on strict self discipline I may be able to keep my garbage removed on a weekly basis, to keep the kitty box changed, the clothes cleaned, the dog watered, fed and walked, but that just catches me up to the starting mark again. When writing I physically grapple with words, wrestling them from their indifference into attempted chunks of awareness. I sit heavily on my chair; I breathe in artificially cooled air; my ear drums note the tap tap of the keyboard and the steady uninterrupted sound of the air conditioner, What is that sound? The roar of the ocean from 30 yards away...Inside, my thoughts are are balls in an electronic game machine, bouncing hither and yon from lever to lever. I am a little grim and intent until I recall a dream related by a black man in the prison where I once worked. He said that when he was a small boy, back home, he dreamed he was standing on his front porch pissing, and that he suddenly found himself pissing stars...
This entry was posted in Attachment, devotion, flash fiction, Guilt, pets and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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