Saturday, 27 June 2015
The light went out in my life
Life has not been kind to me lately. It’s bad enough hitting 44 years of age and having nothing to show for all of life’s ups and downs but whatever runs the Universe thought that I needed an extra kick in the teeth.
Just six days after my birthday my beloved cat, Merlin, had to be put to sleep. I knew he only had a short time left but I was given an estimate of between a year and two years back in January when he was having his annual booster shots. He had not been well for about two weeks before his departure but I thought that he’d pull through like he always seemed to. Merlin was, if nothing else, a fighter. This time was different.
On the day he died, I realised that Merlin’s time on this Earth was almost up and I called the vet to arrange the home visit for the following Monday (8 June). I spent the day cuddled up with my friend and companion and this was to be the way things were going to be until he was to leave me, going on a journey that I could not follow him on although I wished I could have.
Merlin, however, seemed to have other plans, taking a turn for the worst at about 2pm that Friday afternoon. We had been curled up on the sofa, keeping each other warm, when Merlin fell onto the floor (or that’s what I assume as we had both been asleep). He staggered towards the kitchen, heading for his litter tray and could barely walk in a straight line. He hadn’t had much to drink and he’d not been eating too well as he was having trouble with constipation. After a reasonable amount of time to allow him to carry out his natural functions I became worried when he hadn’t returned. I found him still in the litter tray having just headed straight in and, rather than turning around and pooping at the rear of the tray, just pooped as he entered and then collapsed.
He laid there for about two hours and I knew that Merlin had finally given up trying to fight his failing kidneys and other ailments. I had planned to give Merlin the best weekend of his life and we were robbed of that as I felt I had no choice but to bring forward the tragic event.
I brought Merlin to my sofa and we sat together, tears filling my eyes as I could literally see my beloved companion fading before me. I was in such a state that I had to keep leaving the room because it was too upsetting for me but I kept returning as I knew I wouldn’t have much more time with him.
The wait for the vet’s visit was torturously long as he was delayed and I was in emotional agony looking at Merlin and knowing he would soon be gone from my life forever. I started to act in a way that some people might find strange, reading him the poem I wrote about him and telling him how little life would mean to me without him. I just had to get out all the things I would have regretted not saying in the same way you would tell a relative. It seemed fitting to do so as I have always regarded and will always regard Merlin as my son (however weird and un-masculine that might sound). I tried to put a brave face on it but failed miserably, bursting into tears every few minutes as the time slowly approached.
Merlin had started breathing in a strained manner by the time the vet arrived and we took very little time getting down to the sad business of snuffing out the light that was my beloved son.
I had always promised Merlin that when he felt it was time to go that I would be there with him, a promise that I made my Grandma but was unable to keep. I held Merlin in my arms as the vet injected the fatal concoction and I felt him go limp within seconds. Merlin was gone and there would never be another being in my life who could be such a beacon of light in the darkness.
I asked the vet if he’d brought enough of the drug to send me on the same journey, bawling my eyes out. I knew he’d say no but I was so hoping he’d have said yes and left me enough to do the job.
I placed Merlin’s lifeless body in the blanket the vet had bought, covering him up and placing him in the pet carrier. The vet left carrying my furry companion back to his surgery and the even longer wait for Merlin’s ashes to come home began.
I couldn’t sleep that night as I was too afraid of having any dreams of Merlin that stirred up feelings of guilt for having been the one to order his termination. This must come as the greatest irony, me being an advocate of euthanasia and assisted suicide and actually wanting someone to help me die but the distinction I can separate the cases with is that Merlin could not make his wishes known and so I could have been acting against what he would have wanted, despite having done what I thought was right.
For days I had trouble sleeping so much so that my disturbed sleeping pattern caused by my depression looked much more normal than what it was now. I couldn’t face eating meals so I just had small snacks when the hunger became too much to ignore. I could barely keep my mind occupied enough to stop thoughts of Merlin’s absence from my mind and it has been that way since.
I have fallen into my self-soothing but ultimately self-harming behaviour of purchasing DVDs every time I go out to try and distract myself with entertainments that I can’t even concentrate on to fill the void left by my companion.
I’ve had to give up my voluntary work for the time being as I’d be of no help to anyone in my current state and, although my eating pattern has returned to some semblance of normality, my sleep pattern is still so disturbed that I wonder if it’ll ever be normal again.
The worst thing is that I can’t even remember what Merlin looked like without looking at a photograph of him but, every so often, I will get a flash of memory of the moment the life left his body and I lost my beloved companion, bringing back all the pain.
I picked up Merlin’s ashes last Sunday (21 June). I thought that having them would make me feel better but I’m not sure that it’s worked out that way. Nothing can replace the feel of Merlin’s fur against my leg or the joy of being able to stroke him behind the ear. Nothing can replace the acceptance I felt from him or the calming sensation I got whenever I held him when I was at my lowest ebb.
The light has gone out of my life and I’m simply waiting to join my son wherever he may be.