Looking for answers to life's questions

I had to remove this part of last week’s post on celebration. I’m sure you’ll understand in a moment.

My daughter was at my apartment both days the weekend before to finish her very first skirt for a wedding Labor Day weekend. As she was getting ready to leave Saturday evening, I walked out with her. There was a cat sitting on the step outside my door. We have lots of cats loose around the complex so I paid it little mind. It didn’t budge as we walked by. Sunday morning the cat was still sitting there when I looked out in the early morning and when my daughter came back for the finish work. It sat at the top of the landing as we left to shop for a top to go with the skirt and remained when we returned. We asked the neighbors but no one knew anything of this seeming friendly cat.

She of course, like her mother, never picks an easy pattern for a first try.

She of course, like her mother, never picks an easy pattern for a first try.

As my daughter left happy with her completion for the evening, this cat reached up and stretched itself up my pant leg to be petted or picked up. I did both. There were no front claws! Outside for days with no protection and infested with fleas to the point of fur in the ears and eyebrows being worn away. I was horrified and angry. First thing Monday morning, I called a vet down the block that saw cats only. They had to be good if they specialized, right? I made an appointment and picked up a cardboard carrier for $10. Then I checked with the office to see if anyone reported their cat missing. There were posters up near our mailboxes for lost animals but this one was not there.

She was cool and comfortable at the wedding. It was 94 that day.

She was cool and comfortable at the wedding. It was 94 that day.

The Vet determined that this was indeed a female between age 3-12 and infested with fleas so she treated with a deluxe dose of flea killer and prednisone for the itch. I had secretly longed for a companion but have been reluctant because of my location and the cost of caring for an animal. That this cat was female and declawed were bonuses, though I would not declaw a cat.

We confined our newly named Gracie to the bathroom and she allowed me to gently comb her with a flea comb regularly to speed up the process. She ate voraciously as she had while still outside my door. I always keep cans of food around for strays and have for many years. We’ve even managed to get many back to their rightful homes. Gracie had no chip or collar. I claimed her and paid the vet bill. I expected the pet deposit would be next.

By Wednesday, she was flea free and I opened the bathroom door putting her in the bedroom window where she could look out. A few moments later, I found her back in the bathroom on the counter where her towel was. She remained there till my sister made out the futon for the night. Gracie slept with her. I noticed her breathing was a bit labored and wondered if it was the meds. The next morning, the breathing was still labored and her heart rate was high. She seemed to be trying to cough up a hair ball from too much grooming with all those fleas. My gut said we needed a different Vet that day and I made the appointment. My sister went to her job and Gracie and I took a ride. The Vet did X-rays and called me. Blood tests wouldn’t be needed. Well over age 12, she had lungs full of fluid, a tumor under her extremely arthritic ribs. There would be no saving her. She had bitten me already three times as I tried to gently pet her. Every bone in her poor body hurt.


The Vet was kind and gently recommended an end to this poor, very old lady’s suffering. Fortunately, my sister was able to be there with me and Gracie in her last moments. The tears still sting at the loss but I could not let her hurt one moment more. Gracie is now in a gentle state of rest. She came to my door and asked for help. I did the best I knew how, hoping for a different ending. My job was to invest in this sweet creature’s peaceful journey. She has carved a deep place in my heart and I must write her story. The timing was obviously not right for me to keep her but for me to help her go. It brings to mind a picture of coming to the end of life alone. I have tried to make this shorter and happier, it just can’t be. Gracie deserves the space and the ache. I wish her story were unusual, but it’s just too common. When will we stop abandoning animals?

Have you had an animal that put that kind of ache in your heart in a few days?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

Comments on: "In Search of Easing the Ache" (21)

  1. JackieP said:

    Big hugs Marlene! This post made me cry. For you and for Gracie. Animals seem to know who to go to when they need help. For Gracie that was you. I believe she knew her time was near and she needed someone to help her along her path. May love and light be yours, as it all ready is Gracie’s.


  2. Marlene, I am so very sorry for your loss, and that isn’t ameliorated by how briefly Gracie was in your life. What a wonderfully kind and unselfish woman you are to have given Gracie the gift of a loving, peaceful passing. That takes a purity of spirit not many people possess.
    My friend, the shelters are full of Gracies that just want to feel some love and care. People are quick to toss away the old and the imperfect (as you and I well know). I truly think it would be a wonderful and amazing joy in your life to adopt a furbaby. I realize your grief is very fresh but, although I have had a terrible time keeping up lately, I want to extend my support to you whenever you need it. Please feel free to write to me for any reason at all.
    You’re my hero, Marlene. Thank you for being good to Gracie.



    • Thank you so much for your kind words Alicia. I have thought long and hard about adopiing another animal. The two reasons I don’t right now are where I’m located with another move in the near future and the expense. Gracie’s bills were $400. I get a Social Security check that has to meet all my expenses. The very first check I got went entirely to taking care of my 11 year old pup who passed almost the same way as Gracie only she was loved and coddled. Once I have this last move behind me and see where I end up, I’ll consider it again. In the meantime, I’m always ready to do with a bit less to take care of someone in need. I give regularly to Animal Shelters whatever I can.


  3. Thank you for being a lovely and kind soul Marlene. I wish your vet could have helped lessened the cost of your generosity. Very sorry Gracie couldn’t stay with you in the end after all you’re efforts. She was beautiful and so are you. I’m not surprised you keep cat food on hand even though you have no cat, speaks volumes. My sweet friend Alys does the same with dog biscuits. I’m so lucky to have your ladies in my life.


    • Thank you for your kind words. I never worry about the money too much. Somehow it all comes out in the wash. I keep extra leashes too. Have sent many a pooch back to mama. Now shall I tell you about the horses that followed me home? 🙂 I know you and Alys both have big hearts too. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to you both.


  4. I am so sorry you weren’t able to save Gracie, She was lucky to have found your doorstep to land on and you were loving enough to ease her last days. I hope your pain is lessened knowing you were her savior.


    • Thanks Lois. She helped me too. Let me know I’m almost ready to open to another animal again. I thought for sure it would never happen again after losing my dog. It’s funny how she just stayed and watched me. Of course, I had to feed her. Everything happens for a reason. This too.


  5. This is heartbreaking. Bless you for helping Gracie along. It is so sad, how so many don’t give a thought to other sentient beings, abandoning them and ignoring their suffering.


    • Since we all have soul and are all connected, there is no way to ignore without being ignored. I take care of what’s put on my path. The rest, I can do little about other than bring awareness. Thank you so much for your kind words and reading. I took a quick glance at your blog and will be back for a real visit soon.


  6. Marlene, my heart goes out to you. You are a kind and generous soul. I’m so sorry Gracie was with you for such a short time. Your pain and loss are palpable, and how could they be otherwise? Thanks for taking her in, for loving her and for helping ease her pain and suffering as she moved out of this world.

    I can get attached to an animal in an hour so I completely understand. Like you and everyone else on this thread, I can’t understand abandoning an animal. It’s heartless and cruel.

    Tender hugs flying your way.


    • Thanks for your kind words Alys, I know you are a rescuer too. I was so undecided about posting this but felt the Gracie’s in the world needed their moment of awareness. There are many who also don’t think it’s kind to euthanize. I had to trust my instincts on this one. They thought she had some Russian Blue in her and her eyes were an unusual shade of green. As soon as I get a home of my own, I’ll rescue again, longer term, I hope.


      • I’m really glad you posted! In fact, without exception, I think some of the best posts out there are the ones like this that are rich in detail, heartfelt and poignant.

        I think it’s far kinder to euthanize than to allow an animal to suffer. I’ve held cats in my arms while they quietly slipped away, and see it as a peaceful way to ease an animal in pain out of this world. I know now everyone agrees, but for what it is worth, I applaud you for making the hard choices. She was a beauty. You broke your own heart in the process of helping her. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

        You’ll find the perfect kitty companion when the timing is right. Thanks for being you.


      • Thanks Alys, Your words mean a lot to me. I really appreciate them.


  7. Marlene, I’m so sorry for your loss. When God sends animals to us, and we are able to help them, we are blessed. I too had a heartbreaking experience with a cat who adopted me. He was a large, mangy, gray cat we named O’Malley after the Disney Movie Aristocats alley cat hero. When he looked at me, he was star-struck. He looked love sick and for how feral he was, he let me show him affection with afternoon stroking.

    My girls made him accommodation in our garage for the summer because he was too wild to bring into the house with our current ruler Parnelli. Every afternoon, O’Malley sat with me on a yard chair; it was our time together when he allowed me to pet him and talk to him.

    By Fall, I knew O’Malley needed another home because we couldn’t protect him from the elements. The garage wasn’t the answer because he chewed his way through the service door to get outside to hunt. Then I had a great idea. He would be a perfect barn cat, and luckily we had friends who had a farm. We took O’Malley out to the farm and left him with tears in our eyes, but we knew we were doing our best for him.

    To my surprise, three days later I heard a familiar “Meow” outside the patio door, and there stood O’Malley! He had traveled over four miles to find me again. I called our friends and asked if we could give him another try with the barn. Of course, they said, “Sure.” So, that afternoon O’Malley went for another car ride. As soon as I put him down on the soft hay, he turned around and ran in the direction of our home, and O’Malley was back in 24 hours. What was I going to do?

    The vet said he had a number of diseases and fleas, and he was an old dude. Considering we tried to help him and he refused to live on the farm, the only humane thing to do was to put him to sleep. I still think about the little stinker and this experience happened about 30 years ago.

    I believe these transients come into our lives for a reason. They make us love them only to leave us, so I completely understand your pain over Gracie. Just know that you did the right thing, and I am sure she will cross your path again.


    • Thanks Barb. That’s quite a story about O’Malley. I’m surprised you were able to get him into a car. Freezing to death in the winter is not how I would want to go either. That was kind of you to take care of him. Maybe in his next life, he’ll come back as your pet. Thanks for reading and sharing with me.


  8. Hi Marlene – I followed you back here and am so glad I did! Your beautiful soul shines through in this sad tale….. but I wonder if Gracies gift to you is that now you know you can have a cat to love of your very own. Maybe she has opened a door for you ….? I love my boy to pieces – he has been my companion for 7 years now and makes me laugh every day. Cats are such a blessing and remind us to enjoy the present moment constantly 🙂 I look forward to getting to know you. Pauline


    • Thank you so much Pauline. I’ll be going back and reading some of your older posts as well. Yes, I realize I’m ready again for a pet since it’s been 2 years since I lost my 11 year old pup. I have one more move to do, then I’ll look harder for a critter that wants to make my place home. I’ve had a gypsy life for the last 3 years so a pet was not on the top of the list. Gracie just wanted some help.


  9. LaMoyne said:

    I loved this story and was glad I read it. I am sorry about the cat, but know is is much better off and doesn’t have to suffer. That was nice of you to help it as much as you could. It was such a beautiful color. Take care and I received your card. We just got back from the Mountains on Tuesday. I am still trying to put things away and get organized. This will definitely take awhile. My craft room is torn apart and I am almost at the point of not caring. I know I will get the energy and fix it up again, but I don’t know when. I did have my ankle x-rayed. It is not broke, just a bad sprain. Very swollen and I can’t seem to stay off of it. Hope this finds you doing well and you are a good story teller.



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