It was a pretty hot day – somewhere in the mid 80’s. I remember clearly because the air conditioner in car (our trusty 1989 Chevy Spectrum) never worked well, and we were all feeling it on the way home. There they were, in the back, panting. Two little kittens we had just acquired, cute and fuzzy and small enough each to fit in the palm of a hand. The black one – with white nose, muzzle and paws – had already demonstrated his precocious personality. He let out a little yelp that was all attitude. I said “that’s it, his name is Miles” (after my favorite jazz man with attitude). For good measure, we named the other one, female, Ella.
Miles and Ella were with us through grad school, ordination, and finding our first jobs. They moved with us from
Nothing lasts forever – even beloved pets. Ella died a little more than 5 years ago, just as we were looking to move from NJ. It was difficult, as she suffered from disease, and had been with us 14 years. And yet, the kids were younger, and easily more adaptable to (and perhaps less cognizant of) this change.
We just figured Miles would go on and on. He was never fazed by anything, and remained very healthy even as he aged. He too was affected by kidney problems, which often happens in older cats. However, in the few years since his sister’s demise, treatment had advanced quite a bit. As a matter of fact, the first thing we did to address his condition was feed him chicken soup. No kidding. The vet said “you need to maintain his intake of liquid and protein, so I want you to give him chicken soup.” “Really?” I muttered quizzically. “Yes”, doc said, “you’re Jewish, you get it, give him soup.”
For several months, the addition of chicken soup alone buoyed his strength and slowed the progress of disease. And of course, eventually, we had to engage other treatments and medications, until finally, yesterday, the time had come. Miles was no longer responding to meds, getting progressively weaker. Not wanting him to suffer, or go through any real physical crisis – it was clearly time to let go, say goodbye. Easily the most gut-wrenching decision we’ve ever had to make. Some times doing the right thing still hurts.
So now as a family, we mourn Miles’ loss. I know over time we will only look back with fondness, love and deep appreciation to his role in our lives: nineteen years and eight months of blessing.