A Small Death

The alarm sounded at 5 AM, waking me up so I could catch an early flight to Denver. I
had a big business meeting that I had been excited about for a while; it was finally here! I hadn’t slept particularly well, more like a kid on Christmas Eve, so when my cat jumped up on the bed to cuddle, I was disappointed he hadn’t come in earlier. As a matter of fact, he had neglected sleeping with us for the last few nights, which was a little odd. I really didn’t want to get up with my cat’s welcomed arrival, so I curled up for a few minutes and stroked Taffy’s soft caramel fur and listened to his loud purring. It was particularly loud that morning and seemed to vibrate throughout his body. I sleepily smiled at him then dashed into the shower to get ready to go. Taffy stayed on my bed, happy to nestle into the warmed up comforter.

After my husband dropped me off at the airport, he continued on to work. Later on that day, we would exchange small talk and had agreed to a call when he got home. Sure enough at about 6 PM, he was walking from the car to the house and was on the cell phone with me. “I wonder if Taffy misses you and will be glad to see me?” he mused. I assured him he would be met at the door with a worthy welcome and the usual happy, meowed greetings. He walked into the house, but no Taffy in attendance, so he called for Taffy. At first, there was no response. We both hoped he hadn’t got himself shut up in the coat closet (again). As Alton proceeded up the stairs, we both begun to hear some very scary and loud meows. There was Taffy on the bed, nearly screaming in pain, unable to
move his back legs.

We hung up the phone and Alton sprung into action—time was of the essence. I googled away hoping to find a simple answer to Taffy’s paralysis and pain and prayed for my sweet cat who was in obvious pain. Within minutes, Alton called back and was off to a nearby emergency pet clinic to have poor Taffy examined.

The news wasn’t good. 8 year-old Taffy had suffered a stroke and had a blood clot. His heart was enlarged indicating heart failure. Taffy was dying. The doctor’s advice was to put him down. Within minutes, Taffy’s suffering ended and he was at peace. I sat in my hotel room and cried my heart out. I never got to say good-bye to my treasured pet. Those few minutes of cuddling that morning meant the world to me and I thought about all the joy that sweet cat had brought to my life and so many others, even the non-cat people who loved him. I will say again and again to anyone who asks me about my Taffy, he was a great cat. He really was.

But in the midst of all of this, all that is life, and especially in this troubled world and crippled culture, this small death of an 8 year old cat has significant meaning to me. Taffy’s death taught me how quickly life changes and can be completely different in just a split second. My dear kitty was fine that morning, but dead that night without any warning to speak of. Those special moments in the early hours of the Monday he died, will long be remembered and etched into my memory. I’m thankful I took those few minutes to give him my attention, to smile at him and scratch him behind the ears.

Taffy’s death vividly taught me how important it is for us to remember to stop what we’re doing forjust a moment so we can brighten someone’s day and touch their heart. Taking the time to acknowledge another, whether its a person we don’t know in the grocery store, a loved one at home or a beloved pet, keeps us from regret later and fills our hearts and imprints our souls. These are the tender moments we can cherish and play over and over again in our hearts and minds forever.


0 Responses

    1. So sory for your loss…I have a cat that looks just like yours and he is 8 years old. I just love him. It would be the hardest thing ever to lose him. Thanks for the reminder to cherish what you have while you still can. Cats and most animals give so much love back.

  1. Thank you for the reminder. My kitty passed away in November. You should go on the Rainbow Bridge (memorial for animals) it helps. And remember to light 3 candles every Monday to remember Taffy.

  2. Oh no…I’m so very sorry. He looks like a real sweetheart, I think it’s possible that we have his twin brother in our house! We have a light ginger tabby, just like him. I think I’ll go give him some love… Thank you for your beautiful story.

  3. So very sorry for your loss. He was a beautiful cat. We just lost our cat Wednesday night, the day before my birthday of all days. You have said it better than I could. You have helped my hurting heart. Thanks

  4. I’m very sorry about Taffy. I also had a cat named Taffy growing up but she was black and white. It’s so hard to lose a loved pet — I’ve lost three that were very special to me and have my dog Zoe who is getting older. Thanks for the reminder to give our love and not take them for granted.

  5. So sorry you lost your beloved kitty… Now you will find out how many of us have lost pets lately…. my pup died in September at 16… It wasn’t a small death, it was your buddy… don’t be surprised at how you grieve. Love the pics that you have. Thanks for sharing with us.

  6. Oh bless your heart! Your story touched my heart. I know how it is to lose a precious furbaby. It is amazing how much love you can have for one furry little body. We have more cats than I care to count. LOL But we love them all. They all have names and individual personalities, and I wouldn’t trade any of them for a nickel. It seems as if each one has a divine purpose in life. Clown, comforter, confidant, footwarmer, cuddlebuddy, kitchen helper; whatever your need is at that moment.

  7. I am so sorry for your loss…I also am a cat lover…have 3 of my own. It seems tragedy strikes around the holidays usually in one way or another. I am also grieving this week…the loss of my brother 11 years ago. My kids are only 5 and 6, so they’ve never met him. May your memories keep Taffy’s spirit alive, as I have tried for my brothers this week.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss. I have lost some very special furbabies in my life also. They have all touched my heart. I can not live with out a pet to love.

  9. Oh, Traci, I am so sorry. I understand your pain. I actually lost my husband almost exactly one year ago, and without my dogs I could not have made it through, so I understand the attachment we feel towards our pets. Just know that you had 8 wonderful, loving years with one of God’s angels that he allows us to borrow for just a while. I know that Taffy is watching over you and Alton, and is playing with the most wonderful ball of yarn he can find. 🙂 *HUGS*

  10. Am sorry to hear of Taffy’s passing. Pets hold such a unique spot in our lives and each makes its own shape in our hearts. Thanks for sharing your memories and for reminding us of how quickly things can change. “Life leads us down many roads, it is those who walk with us that makes them worthwhile.” – Anonymous

  11. Our sympathies. Nothing small about losing the family pet. We lost ours many years ago Christmas eve, and still remember fondly the kindness of our vet. Kitty was in the hospital after a year of sickness, and he found time to call us on Christmas eve to tell us that she had died. What a wonderful man — he had small children at the time, and should have been home instead of with our dying cat. And he kept us on the phone apologizing for losing her despite that fact that she had been so sick. Every year at this time our thoughts are with veterinarians and doctors and nurses who are serving instead of enjoying their own holidays!

  12. It is heartbreaking to lose a pet; my heart goes out to you. Thank you for the wise observations–we all need to be reminded that life turns on a dime and we must make the most of every second.

  13. I am so sorry for your loss. As I was reading your article with tears streaming down my face, I started petting my cat who lays on my printer next to my desk. I am very blessed that she is in my life and has been for fifteen plus years.

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