March 28, 2012

What It's Like

Parker - March 27,  2012
(She has given her Mommy full permission to blog about this)

Parker's mommy here.. I've been thinking about writing this post for about a month - I imagine if you have never lived with an animal with a terminal diagnosis you might wonder what it must be like. I thought I'd let you take a peek into our world and know what we think and go through. What makes us smile and what can make us cry.
Don't let that adorable photo of Parker fool you. She is totally blind. To look at her you would never know it. Unless of course you wave your hand in front of her face and get zero response. Or you see her slip up, falter and then run into an object. Those are the types of things that can instantly make me cry. I will never get use to that behavior from a cat who was so lithe and stealth on her snowy white paws. To see her falter may be the saddest part of this crummy disease. 98% of the time she navigates fine. We just have to be careful and not move the furniture very much.
I am a planner. I always have been. I know that when Parker's time comes she will not suffer. I have my regular vet office's assurance that they will come to our home if needed, and if that plan fails, I have another in place. I will keep my promise that Parker will never get stressed out by a car ride and a vet visit again. Her journey to the Bridge will begin right here in her home. Along with these plans I asked a dear friend a few months ago to purchase a very special basket and line that basket with soft fabric fit for a princess. She did as I requested and I now have that basket tucked away, out of my sight. It's for Parker...after. It's the basket that she will lay in to make the trip to the funeral home. I have already made arrangements with them and they will accept her when we need them to, night or day. I only speak of this now because I don't speak of it very much in my day-to-day life. It makes me feel a little lighter to share it.  I also imagine that if you have never been through this you might wonder what different people do when faced with the reality that they are going to lose their beloved pet. If you are me, you plan. You also take photos, but you take less than you use to, because you want photos of a healthy Parker to outnumber the photos of an ill Parker. Better to look back at someday down the road. It's funny, but it's hard to look at old pictures now. They tend to make me cry.
Each evening for the last few months,  Parker and I have a little ritual. She has a favorite blanket that she likes to nap on. Her Daddy molds it into a round shape with safe little walls around it. She sits in that blanket next to me each evening and she knows that it's treat time. Be it Temptations, chicken, steak, cheese, whatever - it's our time. She eats out of my palm,licking my hand as she scoops up the treat. It's so very, very precious. It also makes me cry.
Parker's eating also makes us laugh. With everything that she's going through, her appetite has never dwindled. She has never forgotten what it was like to be feral and scrounge for food. To this day she eats as if she'll never be served another bowl of food in her life. Each day, my husband feeds the cats wet cat food as a treat (we split one can of Fancy Feast between the 4 cats). Parker's little internal kitty clock knows when the time is drawing near and she begins to cry and talk to my husband. Standing in the kitchen literally yelling at him to open the can. Blind and sick, she still sounds like a bad-a** cat demanding the good stuff.. Watching that spectacle makes me laugh. It's like listening to the young and vital Parker.
Living with a terminally ill animal means that you wake up each morning wondering and you go to sleep each night wondering. It means that you treat each milestone and holiday differently. It means that you hover a lot. It means that you examine each hiccup, each stretch of a muscle. I'm sure that if Parker could see, she'd be so very annoyed at me - Parker was never a kitty to welcome hovering. I imagine that when I have to travel there's a part of Parker that goes "thank goodness'- now I'll get a little peace..." it stands we take things day by day. Parker sleeps about 20 hours a day and spends the rest of her time eating and stretching her muscles.. She's in no pain, but she is so very  teeny-tiny. I often wonder what it is she dreams of. She gives the most spectacular yawns now - that makes me laugh. She also has become much more affectionate - she was never what you'd call cuddly - now she loves to be hugged and scritched and petted and smooched. making up for lost time, I guess.
You are never ready and I don't try to fool myself that I've become prepared for the inevitable. I cry at the drop of a dime and I know it's because deep down, I am always thinking what a raw deal this is - for her - and for us, the family that loves her dearly.
Both Parker and I say thank-you for all of the support you have shown to us. We don't know how much longer we have together, but we make the most of what we have.
Big smoochies from her, big thanks from me.


NTM and The Purries said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are an inspiration.
Please give Parker gentle scritches from me and lots of PURRS from The Purries.

Sending love.

Mark's Mews (Ayla, Iza, and Marley) said...

We are all drippy-eyed here fer our dear friend Parker and fer all of you. Please give Parker some extra smoochies and treats fer us.

Milo and Alfie Marshall said...

What a beautiful and yet heart rending post. You put into words so well what it is like to be facing the death of a beloved member of your family.
I so understand about the photos too ~ I took a few at the end of my beautiful Siamese cat Henry's life (1985 ~ 2004) but it's the healthy happy ones I want to look at now. They bring the most comfort because they show a life well lived.
I wish this process didn't have to hurt so much ~ but of course it must, because the more you love the more you hurt. I'm so glad the majority of Parker's time is still quality and I wish her a safe and comfortable passage when her time comes (I love the little carry bed you have had created for her with so much love).
Sending you all so much love and healing and hope. Take care dear friends.
We love little Parker so very much.
Jan (Milo and Alfie's mom). xx

Barb and TheDailyGs said...

Tell your hubby to feed that precious girl right this moment! :)

I felt much the same way with Whitey, although my vet continued to hold out hope he would never say what I knew in my heart. Whitey slipped more with every passing day. I've also been through this too many times with all of my sweet dogs over the previous 40 years. It sucks. So precious is every moment, but so much more when you know there are so few left ahead than there are behind.

If we've had a pet before, we know that saying goodbye is part of the deal, but never, no matter how many times we've been through it, is it ever even one tiny bit easier to say goodbye.

I found a little white ball of furs behind my desk yesterday and, o mai goodness, the tears flowed, and are now.

Enjoy her, as I know she is enjoying you.

Random Felines said...

well, mom is all choked up. we are glad you are getting the time to say good bye. we know you can't be ready - there is no time in the world to BE ready. but she is loved and loves you back....

Brian said...

We know how much you love that dear sweet Parker and we have all grown to love her too. Thanks for sharing you thoughts and love with all of us.

The Island Cats said...

Oh this made us all get tears in our eyes. We'll let our mom respond...if she can.

Yes, I know what it's like...and it's not easy. You know that day is coming and you try your hardest to block it from your mind and enjoy the time you have. It's so very hard to see our furbabies get weaker and weaker. Letting them go is the hardest thing to do. If I was there with you, Helen, I'd give you a big hug and cry along with you. Please give Parker some head scritches from me.


Mariodacat said...

Oh bless you and Parker for sharing your deepest thoughts. Those of us who have been through it so understand what you are going through. Parker is so fortunate to have you and your husband as pawparents. She gets the best of care and as much love as two people can possibly give her. We'll hope you will be able to enjoy her for awhile yet. Mario smooches for bootiful Parker.

Jenny & the Gang said...

Thinking of you as you share each wonderful day with sweet Parker. I so completely understand. Over the years I've had numerous little ones with a terminal diagnosis...cancer for most and the dreaded FIP for my beloved Felix. I know you share the same terminal diagnosis that I have...we will forever love our little ones whether they are sitting by our side or waiting for us to come join them on the other side. I know this is incredibly difficult but...the thing you can reassure yourself with is the fact that dear Parker knows without question she is loved...adored...cherished. And she will be with you forever.

You remain in my thoughts and prayers. Please whisper in Parker's ear that all of us in the Whiskers & Purrs Gang love her with all of our hearts.

Jenny & the Gang

Fuzzy Tales said...

I'm sending you universal blessings and Light, sending up "prayers" for you all, for Parker's peaceful, gentle and merciful crossing when it's her time.

In truth, I haven't been able to read every word of your post, because it just brings up too much regarding my angel Annie, even though she didn't have cancer. But it's still too raw, 13 months after her passing.

But I can send cyber (((hugs))), and the boys send their purrs.

-Kim, with Nicki and Derry

Poppy Q said...

I ran Kitty Hospice for my old girl Puss several years ago too, so I understand what you are going through. For me, the worst part was leaving each day for work, worried that her frail body would fall or that she would be confused being alone. Still, there were hours of us snuggling and sleeping together.

On our final vet visit, sweet Puss did not struggle and in fact she put out her paw to the vet, as though she knew it was what she needed to get a final rest.

Our hearts are with you and Miss P as you travel this final journey together with her.

Give her a kiss from us.

Julie and Poppy Q

Laila and Minchie said...

Thank you for sharing that beautiful heart felt post with us. It's so wonderful how you have planned everything, especially the basket. And thank you for sharing those beautiful pictures of Parker throughout the years. (((HUGS)))

Junior, Orion and Sammy said...

Nothing wrong with having a plan.

It sounds like Parker is still having some fun with you, and if she still has an appetite, well that is good thing.

We will keep purring for her and all of you.

KitKat said...

Oh Dearest Helen, we are just so sorry. Mommy is crying so much. She said the crying for stinky goodness reminded her of Normie. It's just such a shame. All of our thoughts and prayers and with and for you. We love you.
Angel Normie, Mika, Sasha & Grady

The Cat Guy said...

A beautiful and difficult post. Reading your experience brought back many memories of my own experience of assisting a cat to the end with CRF. Each day is a roller coaster of intense highs and lows. It's been nearly three years now and yet the intensity of those highs and lows remains just under the surface, you captured it well in your writing.

I hope you can enjoy each moment remaining that is gifted to you.

Marg said...

What a wonderful wonderful post. We love it and made Mom's eyes go all leaky. We are sure Parker is doing so well because she knows how much she is loved. How terrific it is that she is so happy at the moment. It is hard when they are sick. We certainly are sending tons of purrs and many hugs. It is so difficult no matter how many times you have been through it. Take care.

Tillie and Georgia said...

Big hugs and purrs from all of us!!
It is hard to believe that is has been just over a year since Mickey crossed the Bridge. With him, it was liver cancer.
You are right to focus on the time you have now.The healthy pictures will make you happy in the future :)The best record of their life is the blog we do!!!So many memories are packed in all these posts we have written over the past few years.
We have enjoyed the posts over the past 5 years and we will cry with you when the time comes.
For now, spoil and love that sweet little girl!!!!
Smooches Parker!!!!!!!!!
Purrs Tillie and Georgia,
Tiger,Treasure and JJ
and mom Nancy

Forty Paws said...

It is so very difficult to watch a loved one pass on when they have a terminal illness. We keep hoping that it won't be terminal, and that they will be healthy and happy and whole once again. We're glad that you have it all planned out so perfectly for when the time comes. We are still sending Parker hugs and purrs and purrayers every day! And smoochies too!

Luf, Us and Maw

Katnip Lounge said...

Big {{hugs}} from all of us here at the Lounge; I have watched two kitties make the long journey and it is so hard. You describe it beautifully, and perfectly.
Smooch Parker from me, Trish xx

Shaggy, Scooby and Scout said...

Dearest Parker & mom, thank you for sharing this with us. You have made plans now so you don't have to arrange them in your grief later and thats a good thing. Now you can spend the time you have just loving her and being with her as much as possible.
Special gentle fur strokes and ear scritchies to you Parker.
xxxooo Love SS&S & Mom Lynne

Sparkle said...

Purrs to you and Parker - this tore my human up a little bit because it reminded her of the last days she had with the cat before me.

cwcwccw said...

Purrs & prays for Parker and all of you.

jay boy
capu from singapore

Meg said...

I am so sorry. My days with my precious girl are so much the same now, and you told of your heartache as if it were mine.

Big hug to you! You are not alone, and I am both comforted and saddened by that my friend.


Derby, Ducky said...

Smoochies back at ya. Now excuze us as we go dry our tears.

Meg said...

I hope that came out right. I am just overcome and I am so sorry we are sharing these sad circumstances. My purrs go out to Sweet Parker and to all of you.

William said...

No, you are never ready.

My heart is breaking with this post. Take what you can and keep it forever.

You and Parker and in all of our thoughts.

William's mom.

Sweet Purrfections said...

Mom Paula has leaky eyes after reading this. It was a year ago this week that Sweet Praline was diagnosed with cancer. Mom Paula remembers all of those emotions and thoughts.

We are purring for Parker and you as you prepare for that ultimate journey.

Truffle, Brulee, and Mom Paula

JC said...

Know that you have given her a wonderful home and she knows how loved she is.

I had a blind Siamese cat so I know about the furniture thing.

I am so sorry you are losing your beloved.


JC and The Purr and Fur Gang

(I lost my Bella, Choc. Lab, just last August. I cried for almost four months. It will get better. The memories are now good ones. Just so you know.)

Cory said...

This story takes us back to 2006 and the last year of our beloved Jonathan's life. He went blind too and over the course of a year slowly slipped away. I wish we had arranged for him so he would not have had to make that last car ride to the vet, but his final night with us was special, with us camping out on the floor with him and listening to books on tape and talking with him. The photos we took right up to the last day are cherished memories even if he didn't look his best.

Big hugs and purrs to you and Parker. She is a very special furriend and we want her to know how much we love her. Thank you for sharing this update with us.

Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

Thank you for sharing, even tho it made mommy cry. Mom remembers that journey with Punkin. You're making memories and sharing love with Parker and that is the best part of this trip. Give Parker extra smoochies and treats from us and tell her we're still purring and purraying...

Angel and Kirby said...

THank you for sharing this beautiful post. Having gone through it twice, I know where you are coming from! WE keep you in our thoughts!

Cheysuli and gemini said...

It was so hard to watch our Georgia Girl going through similar stuff. I often told my vet that I didn't think I could take it any more--and it wasn't so much that I thought she suffered but simply because I watched her being herself and not minding the limitations she now had--without a thought for the cat she had been. It is hard to lose them a little bit at at a time, knowing where it ends. You're lucky--we are so far from our vet they could not make it for a house call (over an hour drive). They recommended a few places but we were too far west for some and too far east for others. We did have an appointment for the Friday after I had thought I wanted it but Georgia died on Tuesday--the day I had 'wanted' the home visit to happen. I guess I knew more than I thought.

Laura and Taffeta Rose said...

Thank you for giving us this gift, a peak inside your inner heart. Parker knows that she is loved; that may be enough for her. Blessings to you for loving this little girl so much. Gentle purrs and skritches to sweet Parker. Comforting hugs and thoughts to you. We will continue to purr for Parker's happiness.

MrsB said...

Thank you for sharing this. Brave mommy, brave girliekitty.
And it is true, love is all you need.

ABBY said...

Thank you sharing this piece of Miss Parker's life with us. We remember your first posting, and all of Parker's antics over the years. Our tears are falling and yet we know that Parker has lived a very charmed life thanks to you and her Daddy. Saying a long goodbye tears a bit of your heart each day. But she is your Parker Pie and will always be. We are hoping for the best and we do keep you all in our prayers.
Smoochies Parker
Love you

Katie Isabella said...

Dear Helen, Admiral and Katie's mom here. I am dissolved in tears because I had Admiral who was terminal too. The last year of her life was filled with false hopes on my part..blind eye visits every few weeks and sometimes more. Pills, hospital stays and her crying. I did not let her suffer either. She loved her snuggles and lovins that we had constantly. I put off visits to my children because it would leave the care of a sitter, yes..but without mommy at night when she might get lonely and worried.

We love them with all our hearts and I too had a plan. Wishing and hoping not to have to use it but knowing I would.

We all kow how you feel..we love Parker and we are so grateful that she is loving her life with you. I send lots of love and prayers. I understand.

Clarissa said...

Thank you for sharing your story about Parker's care with us. I know she has to be a special girl. I haven't have to cross this bridge yet. I have only dealt with the passing of one kitty, and his illness came on quickly. I had no time to prepare.

I have fallen in love with Parker. Please give her a little extra love for me.

Clarissa & Co.'s meowmie

Tiger Lily said...

Our Mom's face is wet from reading this. Thank you and your husband for taking such good care of wonderful perfect Parker. We love you as much as we love her.


prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs and gentle tail wags,
Zeke, Sushi and Tiger Lily

Jan's Funny Farm said...

Thank you for sharing this lovely post. We're a bit teary, but so glad to know Parker is still enjoying each day and making you smile. We send pawhugs.

meowmeowmans said...

Thank you for sharing with us all. And thank you for loving our friend Parker so very much. And so very well. Hugs to you.

Millie said...

I understand so well what you are talking about. I didn't have as much time with Gizzy when I knew he wouldn't be with us. But I know all about not taking pictures because you want to remember the best times, and then you feel guilty. I know about the cuddliness, and the wondering.

Millie and I send our love and purrs to you and Parker and the other family members, human and furry; and please know you are doing all the right things, even though I know you probably still feel like crap about it.

Lynne & Millie

Doodle Bean said...

Thanks for such a touching entry. My oldest cat is winding down much like Parker is (he's 17 and has CRF). He's still going on walks, enjoying treats and asking for pets, so it's obvious he's still enjoying life -- I just know it won't go on for that much longer.

So, thank you for an entry which tells me I'm not alone... I wish you and Parker the best.

HotMBC Cats-n-Mom said...

Fanks you for sharing yore story. We sends Parker and alla yall lotsa luvs n purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs.

David E. Francis said...

Thank you.

Daisy said...

I cannot swallow past the lump in my throat as I read this. Your love for Parker shines through so clearly. How lucky you are to have each other! Each day you have together is a treasure. {{hugs}}

Eileen said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I know it must have been difficult.

I've had three cats cross the bridge in the past three years. Each time is as difficult as the last but I would never have not had them in my life.

I look at the pictures and remember all the joy they brought me. And though the pain doesn't go away it is bearable, most of the time.

Sasha, Sami, & Saku send purrs for Parker. I hope the good moments continue to overcome the sad.

Eileen, Sasha, Sami, & Saku

Tina T-P said...

I'm sure that all of us who have gone through the "end days" with our dear little friends are holding you in our hearts tonight. I'm glad that Parker has such a loving family. T.


When we knew Sniffie was going to leave us, Mom and Dad made sure every day had "special" time with her. Mom did hover too and would check on Sniffie eleventy billion times a day. Sometimes she would sneak up to make sure she was breathing.

Your post shows the love you have for Parker and the love she has for her beloved 'rents! Like those who posted before us, we have leaky eyes.

The Florida Furkids

Everycat said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. These are the most beautiful and most painful times we can know as animal carers. We have been through this many times with our beloved friends and you have expressed the emotions beautifully.

We send you love and purrs

Oliver, Gerry, Mungo & The Apes xx

Jennifer said...

I'll admit that everytime I see a post in my Reader from Parker my heart stops. We'll certainly miss her when she crosses to the Bridge.

We're ecstatic that her days are filled with loves, cuddles and treats.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Smoochies from Iowa!

The Crew said...

I understand what you're going through. We have lost 4 cats and 1 dog. 2 of the cats were terminally ill and we saw them through 'til the end. No matter how many times you've done it, it never gets any easier. Parker is fortunate to have such loving care during her final days. Purrs to you all.

Crew's Mom

rainbow said...

A very courageous post - our paws are crossed and we are purring hard for you and Parker.

Camp Stanhope Happenings said...

I agree with the previous post about you being courageous! We are with you in every hug, pet, scritch and smooch for Parker. Thanks for sharing her with us.