May 29, 2012

Goodbye, A.V.

“Euthanasia - small.” That’s what the receipt from the vet reads, a concise summary to this morning's sadness. Of course, the burial followed, behind the rectory, with full feline honors from a visiting cat in the tree above the garage. It was a bit hot for digging, but the grave was dug, and Augusta Victoria, our companion from kittenhood on for almost fifteen years, was committed to the earth.

Augusta was a most sociable cat, no stand-offish empress as her name might suggest, but fully aware that noblesse often obliges mingling with the common folk, just to let them know that she has the interest of the plebs at heart.

And a warm heart she had, and great affection, and she will be much missed. Over the last year as her kidneys failed she lost sixty percent of her weight, and over the last two weeks had lost even more, and over the last two days had given up even on eating, and was stumbling in her walking and even as she stood at her water-bowl to drink. It was time, and a sad time it was.

I know it is sentimental to dwell on such things, but I take comfort in something C.S. Lewis once wrote about how just as we are made more than we are in Christ as we share in his life, so too the animals who share in our lives become more than they otherwise would be. Human beings are doubly blessed to have a God who shows us so much love from above, while creatures such as this show us so much love from below. May we be made worthy of that love, by that love.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

28 comments:

Tim said...

No words of condolences or simple acts of kindness can salve the wound that such a loss makes. St. Francis reminds us that all of God's creatures are His and as they return to the Father's embrace, so we hope to as well. May your little one be nestled in the arms of God until you see them both again.

Word Verification: Francis

bls said...

Very sorry to hear it; condolences to you. They're wonderful....

PseudoPiskie said...

{{{Tobias}}} (I was distracted by the TV. sigh.

NS+ said...

Tobias, I am so sorry. I know what it is like to lose a beloved fur companion.
Peace be with you, Tobias.
Bless the memory of your sweet life, A.V.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tobias, I am so sorry. Augusta Victoria sounds like my kind of cat, if I could have a cat. I know you both will miss her terribly.

Blessings.

susan s. said...

Such a lovely cat. I would call her a kitty, but I'm sure she was much more regal than that would imply. Condolences. You did the right things for her.

Vickie Houk said...

Heartbreak is heartbreak: Love is love. Have buried 7 feline children of my own. Know they are together with their Creator now and will be waiting for me. Love is Love and nothing can separate us.

MarkBrunson said...

I'm so sorry, and share you're grief on a very personal level. I still miss my Miutu.

Chris Arnold said...

Dear Tobias,
Thank you for sharing this. I think I'm nearing the day when I make this brave and loving choice for my cat, Brando. He's FIV+, and has been in decline over the past month. This week, though, he's bouncing back a bit! I'm already building up the courage to face the day when I have to be his angel of mercy. Peace to you, brother.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thank you, my friends, for the warm words. It was hard this morning not seeing that familiar shape, and clear blue eyes. Your words bring comfort, as does hope. Bless you.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Augusta Victoria is still there...you just can´t see her.

Love the part about being loved from God above but here too...it´s true.

Erika Baker said...

What a beautiful cat and what a beautiful tribute to her. And what a very sad time for you! Our thoughts and prayers are with you both.

Br. Chris said...

I am *so* sorry about AV. It doesn't seem that long ago that she was a kitten bouncing off the walls (literally!) of your room at Graymoor. As you know we just had to have Randy's dog, Fred, euthanized for much the same reason, and it got me to thinking how important our animal friends are. As you know, we've always had dogs at FH, and they've played an essential role in this work. So many of the men who come here have built very high, strong, defensive walls around themselves, but the dogs just ignore them. I remember in particular one example from just a few years ago. One of our residents,a Gulf War vet with bipolar disorder and severe post traumatic stress disorder, hardly ever spoke and his emotional affect was absolutely flat except when he was in a panic. When he and our then new puppy Newman first met, Newman jumped up, put his paws on the man's shoulders and started licking his face. The resident got this big smile on his face and
started scratching and petting
Newman. In two years of living
with him, I had never seen the man smile. It was like the sun breaking through the clouds after years of rain.

God rest you and James, and God rest AV.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks again for all your kindness. Erika, Augusta was most amazingly soft -- she had no "guard hairs" in her fur, only the plush undercoat.

Which reminds me, Chris, of something you once said years ago about the human relationship with "critters that have fur." Perhaps this link provides us with something from our deep evolutionary past, that we lost when we became, as Desmond Morris said, "The Naked Ape."

Thanks again for your thoughts.

JCF said...

I posted my condolences yesterday, but maybe it got lost in word-verification limbo---

Oh Tobias, I'm so sorry for your (and James') loss. May Augusta Victoria enjoy her Golden Tail in Catnip Heaven.

{{{AV's Pride}}}

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, JCF. Blogger keeps changing their comment system, too. Thanks for your kind words.

crystal said...

Sorry. I've lost four cats, two with kidney disease - miss them. My hope is that they're all in heaven, just waiting for us.

Brother David said...

I had not been aware that she was doing poorly. I am sorry to hear this news. God bless you both in your loss.

Anglocat said...

Oh, Tobias, I am sorry. As a resident of a well-catted house, I know how much our friends intertwine themselves in our lives, and how it hurts to lose them. Blessings in you, and on the beautiful AV--and I think Lewis has it right here!

Christopher said...

Very sorry to hear this news. It is amazing how much we are shaped by those who allow us to share a household with them :) We become more than we otherwise would be, namely more human.

I would only add that I do not think your sentiments to be sentimental. I chose to take a pastoral care class as part of continuing education this semester. My research for the class on the death of animal companions demonstrates how we have perhaps not taken seriously enough the depth and breadth of the Incarnation not just pro me or pro nobis but pro mundis.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Bless you again for the good words. David, she lost weight gradually over the last year, but seemed in relatively good spirits. It was only in the last two weeks that she began to fail visibly, and she was clearly miserable and in pain.

Anglocat, thanks.

Christopher, a profound observation as I would expect from you. Pro mudis indeed, all drawn to the one lifted up. The whole groaning creation awaits adoption: the cats especially waiting "for the door to be opened..."

Deacon Charlie Perrin said...

Having had to do that very deed with four or five cats and at least one dog over the years I know how difficult it is to part with a companion in such a way.

Even knowing that they are suffering and that this act will relieve them of that suffering is of little consolation.

I am so sorry for your loss.

Lionel Deimel said...

My condolences, Tobias. I had to euthanize my cat Ezekiel about a month ago. Zeke was diabetic and also succumbed to kidney failure, so I have some idea how you feel.

Augusta seems to have been a beautiful cat. Do you have any other cats? I’ve had my Bombay, Eve, for consolation.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Deacon C., and Lionel D. Augusta was a very beautiful cat -- a stray, but taken in as a wounded kitten. She had the softest fur, lacking the guard hairs that are normal, so she was all plush.

We've always been a one-cat house, so we are without felines just now. Another may be in our future... after General Convention!

IT said...

What made me REALLY tear up is your comment on how soft she was. our Bubba is also remarkably soft, one can't stop touching him. Cats are such a comfort, aren't they? So stallwart and matter of fact,but there when we need them. And so hard when they have to leave us.... we have such a short time with them. So sorry for your loss!

Tracie L. Holladay said...

I'm a bit late to this but I'm so sorry to hear of her passing. A gentle hug to you...I remember when my Bean passed away, how painful that was...

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, IT, and Tracie.

Anonymous said...

Dear friends,

I need to thank you, too, for the prayers and condolences you have lavished upon us at our little girl's departure. These have been difficult days, and they continue -- it's surprising how LOUD the silence in the house is, even from one who spent most of her days asleep! Cats are creatures in the moment and when they are present, they draw you to them. We feel the absence of our Empress deeply and we are so grateful for your good wishes.

James