They told me that I would know when it was time, but nothing really prepares you for when the time comes. You know when the time is coming, but the hardest part is admitting and surrendering. Denial is so much easier and the initial mechanism we use to try to hold on to hope.
Approximately a month ago, I knew Ricky Wu’s time was coming. He had gotten painfully thin and he could no longer jump up on window ledge to watch the world go by or to chitter chatter at the flitting birds that love to perch themselves on my back patio. His bones jutted out and I felt like I was more so brushing his bones rather than his thinning fur. I would pet, stroke, and comfort him as much and as best as possible.
Ricky Wu’s vet and staff knew me so well that as soon as I said my name, they would ask how Ricky Wu was doing. I never have a problem being a pain in the ass with what and who I care about the most.
I asked Ricky’s vet a month ago while I was choking down sobs: “How will I know it is time to have to let go?”
He said: “They will tell you, Mary. You don’t need to worry about that. Just enjoy your time together.”
So, I tried so very hard to enjoy our time together while death loomed and drew closer and closer. I tried so very hard to focus on living rather than “When is he going to go?” About two weeks ago, Ricky Wu would only go to two spots: Both were right in front of the heater and one on the floor by the music I played for him daily and the other on my bed that he struggled to jump up on. He no longer came out to greet me, sit with me, or cuddle with me, but he still wobbly and slowly went to devour his food and drink his water. Listening to him lapping up his food and watching him stick his paws in his water bowl brought me great joy. There was still light in his eyes.
On the night after Ricky Wu finally had the chance to see all my family for a rare but special holiday occasion in my home, he took a severe and sudden turn for the worst. It was like he was waiting for the Wu crew to all be together and with him so he could be complete and go in peace. He completely stopped eating and drinking. When my sister and I called him, he looked confused. He could barely stand up because his hind legs had gotten so weak from loss of muscle. Then, at 3:30AM, after a very sleepless night from me worrying from him, I went to sit by him as the moon shone through the window. He couldn’t even look up at me. He could only look down, and made these pitiful noises as he shifted slightly to try to get comfortable. I tilted his head up to me. There was no longer light or fight in his eyes.
Like the vet told me and so many told me who had lost their loving daily companion, I knew. He told me. It was time.
Originally, I wanted to go to the vet with someone because I knew I would beyond a hysterical and bawling mess. On the actual day of is a whole different feeling and knowing. I just wanted to go and be alone. It was something Ricky and only I had to do and be in this together. On the morning before I was to bring Ricky to the vet, I brushed him, stroked and petted him, and brought his favorite salmon puree treat to his lips that he did manage to lick up. When I arrived, the vet said that Ricky’s mass had gotten so big that it was now pressing on his kidneys.
The two most important things to me when I said my final farewell to Ricky was that his nails were trimmed (I wanted him to feel and be dapper and give him respect in his physical form) and that I was there for him to hold him when he died. Holding and having Ricky die in my arms and feeling his life just fall away from me was one of the saddest, hardest, and, truly, most heartbreaking experience I ever had in my life.
This was also the greatest gift and most humbling feeling to be there at his worst and when he needed me the most. For that matter, it is the greatest gift and most humbling and honorable experience to be there for anyone when they are at their worst. Ricky had been there for me these 4 ½ years unlike any other. He had been there and cuddled close to me to get through a heartbreak, a friend’s suicide, the pandemic, and many lonely or anxious days that I had when my mind became too much. There are many happy, treasured, funny, warming, and loving memories and moments I have that are rewinding and living on in my mind and are visible in pictures. Though my place feels so very sad and lonely without Ricky Wu here anymore, it is without a doubt that my circle only expanded once I had him because, it was through him, I saw love and kindness. People love their pets and beloved companions with such pure, innocent, and sweet love that it pours over to us humans to treat each other with a bit more kind, care, and love. We need more of that. We need to be more of that.
Many may know that Ricky came from a very good friend who took her life. Losing Ricky has brought back the pain of her lost life that no one nor I could save. Ricky’s death along with her lost life has been a double and most painful hit for me. What brings me the great peace and comfort is that, though I could not save her, I did everything I could for Ricky even to the very end. Most of all, when I look back behind my friend’s happy and healthy ways on the surface, I think she knew the greatest lesson both her and Ricky would leave for me, and that would be “Unconditional Love.” It is the purest and most selfless love there is. That is the very definition of love.
For this New 2022 Year, I wish you much Light and Love, Health and Happiness, Kindness and Care, Peace and Comfort! Most of all, I thank you for ALL your kindness that you have shown me these last couple of days that have been extremely difficult for me. If only we could show each other as unconditional love as our pets do. Cheers!
P.S. Yes, without a single doubt, my time with Ricky has shown me that I would bring in and love another cat or pet like no other. I know that is what my friend would have wanted. I know that is what Ricky would have wanted. It is all about timing and fate.