This was it, the day I’ve been dreading the whole entire week. Normally on Fridays, I would be excited for the weekend, but this was the day we were putting my cat to sleep. The denial that she wasn’t going to die finally crumbled away. This was going to be the first time I’ve lost a pet and I wasn’t looking forward to that final vet visit. Honestly, it was unfair. Chestnut was only 4 years old! She was young and full of energy.
Months earlier, I was the one who discovered the lump on her side. It was hard and you couldn’t get it to move. I thought something like a spider bit her. Chestnut didn’t seem to be in pain as my mom and I inspected it. We decided to watch her for a few days and grew worried when she stopped eating for the next few weeks. She was always skinny, but the sickness made her skinnier. We went to the vet so Chestnut would get checked out. That’s when we got the bad news that my darling Chestnut had a tumor on her side. Many feelings came at once when I heard that. I was shocked, worried, scared and upset for my little baby. “This can’t be happening! She is too young to get sick like this,” I was thinking to myself.
The vet suggested she have surgery to remove the tumor and my family sat down to have a lengthy discussion about the tumor, the risks of surgery, Chestnut’s state of health, and how much we love her. We decided Chestnut was going to have the tumor removed. I was hoping that the tumor was going to be removed and Chestnut would get back to her normal self. After school my mom and I dropped her off at the vet’s office and I reminded her how much I love her. My anxiety level worsened until the vet called after a few days to tell us the tumor was removed and Chestnut could come home. However, he warned us that the tumor may come back but I brushed that quickly aside.
Chestnut came home and I was so happy to have her back. She was shaved and had big ugly stitches on her side and belly. It was weird petting her without her fur. I thought her brush with death was over so I returned to my happy self. After a few months, one day I came home from school and mom sat me down to have a serious talk with me. I didn’t know what it was about until she told me the tumor was back. I got up and found Chestnut right away. I felt her sides and discovered the lump was back. At that point I became enraged and refused to believe it.
Denial set in and I refused to talk about Chestnut being sick. In my mind, she was happy and full of energy. Whenever she didn’t eat, I would think she wasn’t hungry. She didn’t move as much and I chalked it up to her being lazy. After all, she had a big fat lazy older cat sister, Pineapple, to have as a role model. Maybe Chestnut was trying to become more like Pineapple. It was an amusing thing to think about and a nice distraction as well. Sometimes I would step out of denial to tell mom that I feared I would be home alone when I would find Chestnut had passed. That become my greatest fear that I tried hiding but it would show up in my nightmares.
School grades started slipping and I told my teachers everything was fine. Mom decided to call the vet to see what he thought, even though I told her not to. She called anyway and when she hung up, I knew. She didn’t even have to tell me and I knew. It was the same way I knew my mom was surprising me with Chestnut that day four years ago. I was thinking about the day where Chestnut joined our family and our hearts. I was in my parents’ room sucking on a candy cane in the middle of summer. I heard mom’s car pull up in the driveway after she was gone for an hour. At that point, I knew there was a kitten in the car for me. I had been begging for another cat for months by that point. I left the room and met my mom by the door to the living room. “Mommy, I know there’s a cat in the car for me,” I told her. The look on my mom’s face was of pure shock and surprise. She couldn’t believe that I already knew about the newest addition of the family. Sadly today I know I’m about to lose Chestnut to the tumor.
In a few hours, I put Chestnut in her cage. My parents are getting the car ready for all of us. It feels like Chestnut knows what is going to happen and she doesn’t meow on the way to the vet’s office. My parents and I are sitting in the waiting room. I tried my best not to start crying as we get called in. My heart started beating faster and it felt like it was in my throat. I thought everyone could hear how fast my heart was going by that point. Mom took Chestnut out of the cage when the vet walks in. I wanted to grab Chestnut and run out of the vet’s office with her. “Who wants to stay in the room,” The vet asks all of us.
I wanted to stay but I rushed out as I saw the shot. I was in the lobby hugging my mom and crying. I was shaking with grief and sniffling. I had my face buried in my mom’s shoulder and she was trying to calm me down by singing my favorite lullaby. I knew it was done when my dad walked out of the room with the cage without Chestnut in it. It was then I realized life could change in an instant. You have to appreciate what’s in the here and now. You could be seeing everything around you when something happens that makes you blind. Embrace the ones you love right now, you don’t know what can happen later on.