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I love this story of the opera that is life. Love and death and all that leads up to both, and then away, in a neat and beautifully written tale of real life. And also taking place in your house and yard. It is poignant in its truth and sense of place.

I am so sorry about your old cats, sorry about the decision at hand. These days it seems we must always make it.

When I was a girl we had so many cats and one dog. I remember many burials of beloved cats sleeping forever in shoeboxes and placed gently by my father in a freshly dug hole as my mother, sisters and I and our ever vigilant dog stood at sad attention. Never once did one cat have to first visit the Vet. They just died, each for a different reason. Only the dog, at 15, had to be helped out of this life. By then my middle sister and I were out of college.

I married 25 years ago this week. My then new husband had 2 dogs, an Aussie-Golden Retriever mix and a Jack Russell Terrier. I had a cat, an orange tabby whose father was a Maine Coon. That cat was as large as the terrier.

We were an independent two, my cat and I. We had moved to 3 different states and had been fine on our own. His dogs were much younger. We introduced them when we decided to marry. My cat was instantly and always in charge. All was well for a couple of years.

My old cat quickly succumbed to kidney failure at 13. He curled up one night and never awakened. I was away meeting my newly born niece. I like to think he departed purposely while I was away as if to spare me the pain of seeing him dead. Of course, I still felt sharp and deep pain.

Since he died peacefully on his own, we have had, in addition to those two earlier mentioned dogs, 9 more, all Jack Russell Terriers (because we obviously need our heads examined), and 3 cats. Two of the dogs are living with many years left, I hope. Out of the rest, all but a couple lived very long lives of between 18 and 20 years, but not a single one died on its own. Each time I had to make that awful decision, I’d second guess and examine my motives. And hope that our pet would go on its own. I suppose the food and care we spend so much on is much better today than when I was a girl in the 1960s. But I do wonder every time I face that decision why they don’t just go on without help. It is always unbearably tough until I actually make the decision. Then after I hold them as they fall into their last sleep and leave forever, I realize I held on too long and feel guilty that I couldn’t let go sooner. My husband is never any help. He just doesn’t let go.

Maybe they don’t want to leave us fearing no one else can do for us what they do. If that is the case, they are right. In my life, each has brought and brings something unique and fine and special which is why making that decision is so terribly hard.

All that to say that in my view, the best stories take us to special places inside. This one is a perfect example. I know the getting older: the pain, the caps, even the spot of blood left from a sincere but failed act of kindness. I know the moving toward death and I hate being helped.

Thank you for sharing all of this. I wish you and Squibs and Crackers peace. And hope, as if they were mine, that they both go together in their sleep and spare you the decision. It will be sad. That can’t be helped but somehow it seems easier if they make the decision on their own.

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