Today I was talking with Shayna, my young co-worker, complaining about how I can't get my new Kindle Fire to work and it's not that it's defective, it's me, I'm stupid, when suddenly, out of the blue, she switched gears and said, "We're putting Chloe to sleep today."
She said it matter-of-fact, as if we were talking about the weather and she was noting that it looked like rain. But her lower lip trembled ever-so-slightly.
"She's our family cat," she continued. "She's 20 years old and in failing health. She can't eat, can't walk, can't poop. It's time." Shayna kept her stoic face, but I noted that her eyes were a bit watery and although she was smiling, it looked forced. I did some quick math: "If you've had Chloe for 20 years, that means you were just..."
She finished my sentence for me. "Yup, four years old. I've had her my whole life. It's time though," she repeated. "She can't eat, can't walk, can't poop." I knew she was reciting the litany to convince herself, and told her she was doing the right, the humane thing and she nodded reluctantly. But still, I recognized all too well that look of pending loss and my heart broke for her. God knows I've been there. As animal lovers, we all have.
I shared my own experience of losing Elvis and what a blessing it was to have Olivia while I was grieving for my sweet boy. Never did I think of Olivia as a replacement for Elvis, but she was a new life, a new spirit, a homeless dog that needed love and needed me as much as I needed her. Olivia helped fill that cavernous hole in my heart. Might Shayna consider another cat one day?
"Absolutely! she said, her sad face growing bright at the thought. "My mom and I would like to adopt a bonded pair."
Then I remembered that the SPCA is holding a pet adoption at our workplace on Friday and a little light bulb went on over my head. "It might be too soon, but I know the director of the SPCA. Would you like me to shoot him an email and ask if he has a pair of cats that need to be adopted together?" I asked. Sure, she said with faint enthusiasm. Then she whipped out her cell phone to share pictures of her sweet Chloe. "It's time," she repeated under her breath. "It's time."
The second I was free, I shot an email to the awesome Scott Delucci of the Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA. He answered within minutes. As a matter of fact, he did have a pair that needed to be adopted together and this was such a rare request, he was thrilled with my email. If my co-worker was interested, he would send the young pair to our adoption fair on Friday so Shayna could meet them. He included their photos with a video link of the cats romping and playing.
I shared this with Shayna, who smiled for the first time that day. As she watched the video, she mentioned that Chloe had been so old and so sick for so long, she had forgotten how playful cats could be. She forwarded the links to her mother who confessed that she had already been perusing adoption websites. For the rest of the afternoon, I could hear Shayna simultaneously straddling sadness over losing Chloe and stifling joy over the possibility of opening her heart to two new lives. On Friday, her mother is joining her to meet the homeless kitties.
And so goes the circle of life. Fingers crossed for a happy ending.