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Mourning Mr S: Losing a pet is never easy

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

We are a house of mourning today. Our kitty, Mr S, died yesterday. Mr S was an old, old kitty, and he gave and received much love over his almost 18 years. Watching him fail over the last 10 days was difficult for the whole family. Woody is taking it especially hard.

This is not our first experience with pet loss. About two years ago, Z-Girl, our other cat, died. Alfs was very upset about her passing. They had been good friends from almost the time Alfs was born. I remember distinctly the wee hours of a morning when Alfs was a few weeks old and nursing almost continually due to a growth spurt. Z-Girl hopped up on the bed, came over to us and started licking Alfs' head. Alfs and Z-Girl had a bond from that moment forward. They were pals. When Z-Girl died, we buried her in the back yard. Inspired by the book, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, by Judith Viorst, we all wrote 10 things we loved about Z-Girl and read them out loud at our little funeral for her. Except Alfs, that is. Alfs wrote his list, but did not want to speak, because he couldn't say the things without tears streaming down his cheeks. We all placed our lists with Z-Girl in her grave, and marked her spot under the magnolia tree with some stones.It was months before Alfs would let anyone talk about Z-Girl in his presence. He still gets wistful about her.Similarly, Woody and Mr. S had a special bond. Over these final days, it was Woody brainstorming ways to help him. When Mr. S refused to move from his litter box, even sleeping there, it was Woody who suggested we replace the litter with the non-clumping kind so it wouldn't stick to the cat's paws and fur too much. In the final hours, and though Mr. S had eaten nothing for days, Woody really wanted to call Dad and ask him to bring home some fresh shrimp for Mr. S, certain that Mr. S would eat that. At dinner last night, after Mr. S passed, Woody could not eat, even though we had picked up some of his favorite take-out food on the way home from the vet's office. His sweet eyes were so swollen and his nose red from wiping. I finally excused myself and him from the table and we went upstairs.This was one of those out-of-the-ordinary times when all regular routines were moot. Woody curled up in our bed and I held him and told him some of my favorite Mr. S stories, many from long before Woody (or Alfs) was born. We decided to start his 10-things list about Mr. S right then and there. We have 11 things so far, and I am sure there will be more. Even though the tears continued, there were some smiles, too. We talked about what a good life Mr. S. had and how much we loved him. I reassured him that all these feelings were OK.As I turned out the light, letting him fall asleep in our bed, there was another memory, another smile, and another tear. We'll get you through this, Woody. We'll get all of us through this.

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