(Please click on the media player while reading this entry. The music is part of the experience.)
I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness – that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what – at last – I have found.
Preface to Bertrand Russell’s Autobiography
When I blog, I try to let words express the depth of my soul. Sometimes I come close, but words can never quite capture my feelings. Nothing that I can say in this entry can quite express how I feel right now, although the philosopher Bertrand Russell’s quote above comes close.
I used to poo-poo the notion of angels. Not anymore. Sprite, my cat of 19 ½ years of age who was put to sleep Sunday night, was an angel. He was a special angel sent by the cosmos just to me to provide me comfort, solace and love through two turbulent decades of my life. Sprite was simply love wrapped in a feline form. The depth of his love for me was focused and boundless.
Anyone who has had a pet knows how attached you can get to them. However, some pets are singularly extraordinary. That I was fortunate enough to have him as my pet means that there is either is a God or I am the fortunate recipient of a random act of the cosmos.
Mark me well. I know how people with pets can love them dearly, as I certainly loved Sprite. Nevertheless, Sprite’s love for me was extraordinary and far beyond what I even imagined was possible in my life. During the stresses of life that would have pulled apart ordinary men, Sprite was there for me. His love was like a thousand watt light bulb. He radiated his love on me in such high megadoses I was able to pull through my challenges time and time again. He did it without saying a word, except for an occasionally silent meow. He did it by looking at me intently with his devotional wide eyes and purring contentedly on my lap. He gave all he had and more for 19 ½ years. He would have stayed with me forever had his body allowed it. However, even with a cat with such a gentle constitution, death could not be postponed forever.
Sometime during the last week, Sprite’s intestine became perforated. He developed peritonitis. The twice-daily pills, the daily yogurt, the special cat food and the laxative which kept his symptoms in check lost their efficacy. By Sunday, he had no more appetite and could not even drink from his water dish. He found refuge behind the couch. I coaxed a couple spoonfuls of yogurt into his tummy, which were quickly thrown up.
It was time to visit the emergency veterinarian. I prayed of course that we were not to taking him in to be put to sleep. However, the X-rays revealed the sad truth of a cat who had given all he could give. The perforation could be seen easily, and his kidneys were enlarged and his stomach extended. It is unlikely that surgery could correct the problem. He had worn out. There was nothing to do but spare him further misery by putting him to sleep.
Sprite was quiet but attentive when we wrapped him in a towel and took him into the car. It was evening. He did not fuss in my arms at all. He looked wide-eyed and with wonder at the streetlights, the signs and the stars. He was calm. It seemed to me that they were a comfort to him. Perhaps they were a distant memory of wherever he was before he arrived in this world. While my wife drove, I gently stroked his face. Underneath the towel, somewhere there was a small but consistent purr.
Sprite left this life with dignity and unflinchingly. We held him in a blanket, looked at him intently and stroked him. I told him again for the millionth time how special a cat he was. He truly was the best cat who has ever lived. Gentleness and love expressed the character of his soul. He watched us with his wide eyes, seemingly hearing every word we were saying although we knew he was deaf. He was not afraid but was comforted that we were there for him. The narcotic he was given freed him of his pain.
“Dad, there is no more I can give you,” is what I heard him say in my head. “Sprite, we will meet again, sometime and someday, and in some other life,” I said to him quietly, tears streaming down my face. “And then once again you will be on my lap, and I will stroke you and pull back your bat-like ears and you will be purring contentedly. I love you, son.”
It was my wife and the veterinarian who actually put him to sleep. I could not find the strength for that final act. Simply seeing the euthanasia tube in his paw was hard enough. He watched my wife intently during the euthanasia, half shut his eyes and was gone. He went peacefully, which was right. In addition, he went embraced in love.
We will meet again, best friend and soulmate. There is no way I could begin to repay the love you lavished so consistently on me for so many years. I thank you for your gift nonetheless. I know we will be with each other again. For now my love, au revoir.
For readers who would like to learn more about Sprite, try these entries:
For those who would like to learn more about Sprite’s sister cat Squeaky, see these entries:
For those who are wondering about the “requiem” music I chose for Sprite, it is “Alleluia and Fugue” by Alan Hovhaness. For me it captures well the bittersweet feelings coursing through my body at the moment.
Thank you for the condolences. They help.