It's hard to welcome Sister Death into your home, especially when you're not expecting a visit.
Today, Archie, our 13-year old cat, seemed to be having difficulty breathing. He'd been...off the last week or so. Breathing a little fast, hiding out under the bed, but always coming down for meals, purring and sitting on laps and shoulders when invited. Today was different.
Lori called me this morning at work and said Archie's breathing was labored and his stomach looked distended. She made an appointment with the vet and kept an eye on him for the rest of the day. Around 4 she called back and said she was taking him early - he was getting worse. The vet said Archie wasn't "critical" - he was mauling the veterinary techs like he usually did - so I figured I'd take a cab to the vet, wait with Lori and bring the gang home after they sedated Archie (like they always had to). We'd give him medicine and that would be that.
After waiting awhile with Lori, the vet came in with Archie's X-Rays. She said, "Alright, I don't have good news, so brace yourselves..." and I knew the nature of what was coming next. I heard "congestive heart failure". I heard "grave and critical" and I heard "nothing we can do for him." There was a lot of crying and why'ing. The vet left us to hold him and love him and say goodbye. I can't bring myself to write about the next part, so...
Fast forward to now.
My companion Archie is gone. Archie, who had seen me through some of the best and worst times of my life, who accepted kitty milk from a bottle in sitting in my hand at 4 weeks old, who was there when we brought both James and Patrick home from the hospital, who sat on my shoulder purring when I was in alcoholic withdrawal and going out of my skin, who stayed with me when I felt like giving up, who slept cradled in my arms or on top of my head. Archie has died. I have lost a dear, dear friend. When I finally go to my own reward, God willing, it will be Archie's mug I see stepping over that Rainbow Bridge into Heaven.
In short, I'm going to miss my friend very, very much.
Rest easy, Archibald.
Daily Mass Readings
2 Corinthians 9:6-11
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18